Obama outlined his intentions, based on Biden’s recommendations, as giving local agencies “tools they need to keep guns out of hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system,” letting schools hire resource officers and making sure mental health professionals “know their options for reporting someone with mental illness.”
He also called on federal studies for ways to reduce violence.
He listed 23 executive orders he is taking:
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
- Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
- Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
- Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
- Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
- Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
- Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
- Nominate an ATF director.
- Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
- Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
- Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
- Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
- Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
- Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
- Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
- Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
- Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
- Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
- Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
- Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
Obama also told Congress to take action immediately, calling for:
“A universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. The law already requires licensed dealers to do checks.”
“Congress should adopt a ban on military styles ‘assault’ weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines.”
“Congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement.” He wants lawmakers to crack down of straw purchasers.
He also said, “We should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets.”
He quoted several children’s letters citing their fear of mass shootings and “our responsibility to care for them.”
“Their voices should compel us to change,” he said.
“If there is even one thing we can to reduce this violence…. we’ve got an obligation to try it,” he said.
Missouri is leading the resistance, but is just one of a half dozen states or more already addressing the issue, with its HB 170.
The plan from Rep. Casey Guernsey already has 61 cosponsors and is called the Missouri Second Amendment Preservation Act. It would nullify any and all federal statements on “personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition.
It states: “Any official, agent, or employee of the federal government who enforces or attempts to enforce any act, order, law, statute, rule, or regulation of the federal government upon a personal firearm, a firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured commercially or privately in the state of Missouri and that remains exclusively within the borders of the state of Missouri shall be guilty of a class D felony.”
A class D felony in Missouri carries a prison sentence of up to four years.
Other states getting into the act include Wyoming, South Carolina and Indiana, and they all follow the work of Montana, which several years ago adopted the Montana Firearms Freedom Act, which simply states local firearms are exempt from federal regulation. That concept was adopted at that time by seven other states, and proposed in two dozen more.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just last week scheduled a coming hearing on that state law.
After the Newtown, Conn.,(FALSE FLAG PSYOP) school shooting, which left 20 children and another six adult victims dead, Obama promised immediate action, and he dispatched Vice President Joe Biden to lead an advisory panel to come up with a plan.
Those recommendations were the basis for Obama’s announcement. However, even that is being challenged. A lawsuit by Freedom Watch director Larry Klayman asks a federal court to order the Obama Gun Control Task Force to halt its meetings and the implementation of any of its recommendations.
The American people “will continue to suffer permanent and irreparable injury” unless the task force is brought into compliance with the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the complaint, filed in Florida court, states.
Klayman told WND that the case was brought in the Middle District of Florida alleging the Obama White House “had a duty to the American people to provide at least 15 days notice to the public of the meetings which [Joe] Biden has been chairing to recommend so-called gun control measures following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.”
“In their zeal to use this tragedy for political purposes and to try to ram quickly increased legislative gun control measures, if not gun confiscation and/or significant infringement through executive order, down the throats of the American people – in violation of Second Amendment rights – President Obama and Vice President Biden have thumbed their nose at the law and instead been holding closed door meetings with special interest lobbyists on both sides of the issue,” Klayman charged.
The AP noted that whatever was included in Obama’s executive orders, “Congress would have to approve the bans on assault weapons and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets, along with a requirement for universal background checks on gun buyers.”
The report said opposition from Republicans, conservative Democrats and the National Rifle Association simply will be too much to overcome.
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., told the agency, “We’re not going to get an outright ban.”
Meanwhile, some left-leaning states, such as New York, already have started cracking down on the Second Amendment. Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week signed into law a tougher “assault” weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people who make threats.
In the halls of Congress, there was a less frantic mood about gun control, with lawmakers focusing on a looming fiscal deadline, the issue of amnesty for illegal aliens and other issues. Votes on any proposals are not expected for weeks, or even months.
WND had reported that ideas for Obama’s strategies were coming from the Center for American Progress, which released an 11-page proposal, reviewed by WND, calling for a full ban on the sale of assault weapons and magazines with a capacity for more than 10 bullets. CAP suggests legislation to require licensing and transfer restrictions on new and existing “assault” rifles.
The CAP paper, delivered to the White House last week, recommends that Obama issue executive orders requiring all states to collect more data on prospective gun owners for inclusion in a nationwide database.
Such a presidential edict would withhold funding to any state that does not provide the federal government with the names of all the individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms, including those barred from purchasing guns due to mental illness.
The recommended executive action specifically would penalize states that fail to provide records to the National Instant Criminal Background System, or NICS, which is a point-of-sale system for determining eligibility to purchase a firearm.
The NICS is controversial because it receives telephone calls from mental health institutions, psychiatrists and family members who can request the placement of individuals in the NICS index. Those individuals can then be barred from purchasing a weapon if the NICS is satisfied with the complaint, usually requiring supporting documentation.
White House press secretary Jay Carney had promised, “The president has made clear that he intends to take a comprehensive approach” against “the scourge of gun violence in this country.”
WND also has reported on the fears generated by a comprehensive federal list of people that various interest groups don’t want to have guns.
Mike Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, said one of the proposals expected from the president’s advisory panel this week was to establish a universal background check.
The policy, he warned, would establish “the groundwork for setting up a national registry system,” which would solidify America as a “police state.”
Hammond said it would be ominous that an executive order from Obama could “ask a whole bunch of departments for names of people who have mental problems to be sent to the NICS system.”
The result would be that the Medicare system “could turn over the names of people” to a federal data base for a federal prohibition on access to guns. Restricted could be “the elderly,” children who will grow up one day to purchase weapons legally and “the military and police who have been diagnosed with PTSD.”
He said that hits directly at constitutional rights, and those people named on such lists would have a right to a court hearing on the issue.
Obama also was criticized for using American children as “human shields” during his announcement.
Top-rated radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “He’s using these kids as human shields. Obama uses kids as human shields. The Democrats use kids as human shields.”
Limbaugh continued: “He brings these kids who supposedly wrote letters to the White House after Newtown, bring them up there to present a picture of support among the children for the president to do something about guns. It’s gonna be very difficult, very difficult to oppose it. You got these little kids there. They don’t want to die. ‘How can you not listen to them? We’ve gotta do something.’ That’s the picture. That’s the image that the presence of the kids is designed to create.”
Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey summarized the resistance to more gun control, and the resistance.
“When you’ve got people like [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein talking about major bans and Biden telling us that all they need is an Executive Orders, you know these folks are willing to go all the way. So, it’s good to see these folks in Missouri go all the way as well, all the way in support the 2nd Amendment without any ifs, ands, or butts. The feds have absolutely zero constitutional authority to make any laws over personal firearms. Period.”
The center noted, “The Second Amendment was not created to give the right to keep and bear arms to the people. The founders acknowledged that the people already had those rights. The Second was intended to protect them by keeping the federal government off their backs.”
There also have been suggestions that Obama may face personal responses to his gun limit attempts.
Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman said he would file articles of impeachment against Obama if he institutes gun control measures with an executive order.
Stockman said such orders would be unconstitutional.
“I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” he said.
PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY BELOW –
Mental Health Pros Worry About Gun Laws
Rochester, N.Y.— When Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new state gun control bill into law this week, it included a mental health component.
The law would require doctors, social workers, therapists and psychologists to report their patients to authorities if they are likely to hurt themselves or other people. The patient would then be disqualified from buying any guns and/or any guns they owned would be confiscated.
The Mental Health Association in Rochester believes this component of the law unfairly targets the mental health patients.
“In a way, it’s increased the stigma,” said Patricia Woods, president of the Mental Health Association. “It’s increased the secretiveness about mental illness and it may have the exact opposite effect of what they were trying to prevent.”
Woods and many others in the mental health community are afraid that people may not want to seek treatment or that patients may withhold information from their therapists and psychologists because of the fear of getting reported. She feels the law could do more harm than good.
Woods says the law also singles out those with a mental illness as the only perpetrators of a violent attack.
“The reality is that individuals with mental illness are 12 times more likely to be victims of violence than be the perpetrators,” she said.
According to the organizations only 4 percent of violent crimes are committed by someone with a serious mental illness.
Psychologist Robert Insull says he understands why the state felt the need to pass a gun control law. After the recent tragedies and Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT, he says the issue was hard to ignore.
However, as a mental health professional, he wishes the legislators had taken more time to discuss the law and its implications.
First, Insull says that the law inaccurately assumes that a mental health professional can predict or prevent acts of violence.
“Predicting violence is an extremely difficult thing to do,” he explained. “Mental health professionals, as a group are notoriously no better at predicting violence than the Joe Schmo on the street. Now we’re being asked as professionals to make that kind of prediction, not only in the confines of our own practice where I might start watching the patient more carefully, but now the law requires that I report it.”
Second, Insull says the law has major consequences for patient-doctor confidentiality agreements. He, too, is afraid patients won’t be open with their doctors or decided not to seek treatment at all.
“Without that confidentiality, [the patients] can’t feel free to talk about what’s going on in their lives.”
Even without the law, mental health professionals have an obligation to report serious threats a patient makes, but the Mental Health Association officials say the new law is unclear and could add an extra burden on these professionals.
“It ups the worry that if something was to happen, that you are you going to be responsible for it,” Woods explained.
The Mental Health Association’s Director of Community Engagement, Melanie Funchess, also wonders if “being reported” could negatively affect other aspects of a patient’s life. For example, if a patient is “reported” as someone capable of violence, but has never commits a crime and is considered an upstanding citizen, would this affect the person’s ability to get jobs?
“People all over the country commit violent crimes every single day and are not mentally ill,” she said. “We as human beings don’t want to see the darkness within ourselves so we will default that this person must be an ‘other’, that they must be crazy, that they must be mentally ill.”
Woods says she wishes the governor had focused more on mental health resources, funding and improving access to mental healthcare instead.
President Obama unveils the recommendations from a White House-led task force on how to curb gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings later Wednesday, the package of proposals is expected to include a series of executive orders.
The reality of what Obama can do via executive order and the perception of his using executive privilege to alter (or re-enforce) laws are two very different things. And it’s the perception that Obama has to worry about.
If he does make good on all 19 executive orders (or, really, anything in double digits) Republicans will immediately cry foul, insisting that Obama is trying to run our democracy like a dictatorship.
Democrats may roll their eyes at this tactic but remember that there is a major strain of thinking in the country — among Republicans and even some independents — that the ultimate goal for President Obama is to take away everyone’s guns.
The President acting alone would stoke those fears and gin up Republicans to keep any sort of larger legislation — like, say, an assault weapons ban — from moving through Congress. It would likely be seen as a poison-the-well moment from which the debate might never recover to a place where bipartisan compromise was possible.
President Obama and his senior strategists are certainly aware of the danger of appearing to make (or change) law by fiat. If Obama goes big on executive orders it’s likely because he has made the calculation that no significant number of Republicans are going to be with him on any sort of gun control measure and, therefore, the only way to get some of these things done is through his powers as the country’s chief executive.
Perhaps. But he also could run the risk of jeopardizing more broad-reaching pieces of his gun agenda if Democratic Senators up for re-election in pro-gun states like Louisiana, Arkansas and South Dakota balk at getting behind his legislative solutions in the wake of an uproar over the executive orders.
“If they mean to have a war, let it begin here” – Capt. John Parker 1775
Gun Ownership Rights Under Heller
What does the Supreme Court say about your right to own a gun in Heller?
In District of Columbia v. Heller, 54 U.S. 570 (2008), the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on gun ownership rights, ruling that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to own a gun for personal use. Yet despite the Court’s clear ruling that people may keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense, Heller allows for certain restrictions to gun ownership. The ruling leaves many uncertainties as to which types of gun control laws will be allowed to stand and which will be ruled unconstitutional. (You can read the Heller opinion in Nolo’s Supreme Court Center)
What Heller Says
The Heller case involved a challenge to the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns. For the first time in nearly 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the meaning of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as it relates to gun control laws.
The Second Amendment provides that “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
For many years, scholars and anti-gun proponents have argued that the Second Amendment provides a right to own guns only in connection with service in a militia, and that this right should not extend to private individuals. That argument was roundly rejected by the Supreme Court. In an opinion authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that the right to own a gun is not connected with service in a militia; rather, it is a personal right to own a firearm for “traditionally lawful purposes” such as self-defense within the home.
The bottom line: You have a constitutional right to possess a firearm regardless of whether you are serving in a militia. But just how far that right extends remains up in the air.
How Heller Affects Gun Control Laws
How much the ruling in Heller will affect gun control laws in various cities and states remains to be seen.
The gun control law at issue in the Heller case — a nearly across-the-board gun ban in the District of Columbia — was considered to be the strictest gun-control law in the nation. Because the Supreme Court’s ruling concerned only this strict ban on handguns, the decision leaves unclear whether less-stringent bans in other states and cities will survive constitutional challenges.
And, although the Supreme Court’s decision adopted the broader, individual-rights interpretation of the Second Amendment, the Court also made it clear that the right to own a gun continues to have a number of significant qualifications or restrictions, including:
Not everyone can own a gun. The right does not extend to felons or the mentally ill.
Guns cannot be carried everywhere. Laws forbidding individuals from carrying firearms in “sensitive” places, such as schools and government buildings, will probably stand.
Certain restrictions on the sale of guns are allowed. Laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of firearms will most likely stand.
Individuals do not have the right to carry certain types of guns. The right does not protect guns that are not generally owned for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns. Just what kind of handguns may be possessed is not explicitly set forth in the opinion (apart from the one specific reference to sawed-off shotguns, which are not allowed). The Court did endorse the “the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons,'” but did not state whether such weapons include assault weapons or semi-automatic weapons.
- Concealed weapons. Laws forbidding people to carry concealed weapons on their person (or in a place close at hand, such as the glove compartment of a car) probably remain valid.
- Sentence enhancements. A variety of criminal laws provide for increased punishment of offenders who use weapons when committing a crime. Heller does not affect the validity of these laws.
Given this long list of qualifications, it remains unclear how Heller will affect the many different types of gun control laws that exist in cities and states throughout the country.
New Challenges to Gun Control Laws
One thing is for sure: Advocates all over the country will now challenge gun control laws based on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller. Within a day of the decision, lawsuits challenging gun control laws had been filed in Chicago and San Francisco, and additional challenges are expected in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, and countless other cities.
While gun rights advocates like the National Rifle Association hailed the Supreme Court’s decision as a welcome addition to their arsenal in the ongoing war against gun control laws, only time (and future court decisions) will tell whether the Court’s ruling marks the beginning of a comprehensive rollback of gun control restrictions in this country or is merely a symbolic ruling that will ultimately leave most of those laws in effect.
To learn more about how the criminal justice system works, including the latest U.S. Supreme Court decisions, get The Criminal Law Handbook: Know Your Rights, Survive the System, by Paul Bergman and Sara Berman (Nolo).