Gun Control Executive Actions Announced by President Obama

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President Obama announcing executive actions on gun control, Jan. 5, 2016
Source: The White House, “The President Announces Commonsense Steps to Keep Guns Out of the Wrong Hands,” YouTube.com, Jan. 5, 2016

On Jan. 5, 2016, President Obama announced a series of new executive actions on gun control, including the closing of the “gun show loophole” by expanding background checks on gun buyers.

In addition, President Obama announced: the hiring of 200 new ATF agents; increased mental health care funding; $4 million to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network used to link crimes in one jurisdiction to ballistics evidence in another; the creation of an Internet Investigations Center to track illegal online gun trafficking; a new Department of Health and Human Services rule saying that it is not a HIPAA violation to report mental health information to the background check system; a new requirement to report gun thefts; new research funding for gun safety technologies; and more funding to train law enforcement officers on preventing gun casualties in domestic violence cases.

In his speech announcing the executive actions on gun control, President Obama stated that “every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns.” While reiterating his support of the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, the President explained that the United States is “the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency,” and stated that “[w]e do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom.”

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O’Malley all made statements in support of President Obama’s executive actions on gun control.

On the Republican side, many of the presidential candidates were critical of Obama’s executive actions. Jeb Bush stated that “Obama’s declaration that he will impose his gun control agenda by executive order shows an utter disregard for the Second Amendment as well as the proper constitutional process for making laws in our nation,” and Ted Cruz called Obama “the most anti-gun president we’ve ever seen.” Marco Rubio said the President’s action “undermines the Second Amendment,” and “will do nothing to keep people safe.”

According to the 2007 Small Arms Survey (the most recent available data), the United States has more guns than any country on earth, with 88.8 guns per 100 people, or an average of 270,000,000 guns. However, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, out of 87 countries the United States had the 28th highest firearm homicide rate at 2.97 murders per 100,000 people in 2012.

Sources:

Dana Bash and Abigail Crutchfield, “Cruz: Obama Is ‘Not Telling the Truth’ about Guns,” cnn.com, Jan. 7, 2016

Jeb Bush, “Barack Obama’s Executive Orders Trample on the Second Amendment,” thegazette.com, Jan. 5, 2016

Jesse Byrnes, “Rubio: Obama ‘Obsessed’ with Gun Control,” thehill.com, Jan. 5, 2016

Jennifer Hansler and Paola Chavez, “2016 Candidates React to Obama’s Gun Control Measures,” abcnews.go.com, Jan. 5, 2016

Eric Lichtblau and Michael D. Shear, “Tearful Obama Outlines Steps to Curb Gun Deaths,” nytimes.com, Jan. 5, 2016

White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Fact Sheet: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer,” whitehouse.gov, Jan. 04, 2016

White House Office of the Press Secretary, “Remarks by the President on Common-Sense Gun Safety Reform,” whitehouse.gov, Jan. 5, 2016