President Barack Obama signed 23 executive orders and launched a campaign to force Congress to renew the ban on so-called “assault weapons” and standard capacity ammunition magazines, igniting what will certainly be a showdown with the firearms community.
Among those orders are questionable suggestions that may collide with doctor-patient privacy. And he soft-pedaled moves to look at violent video games and films, contending that these issues are better left to parents, while government can ratchet down on guns.
The National Rifle Association, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and National Shooting Sports Foundation were quick to react to Wednesday’s announcement. The NRA has vowed to put up the “fight of the century” to stop Mr. Obama’s legislative proposals, while NSSF took a slightly milder, business-oriented approach.
“We support immediate improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that will bring all appropriate mental health and other records, such as restraining orders, into the NICS system,” NSSF said in a statement. “Fixing NICS must be among the highest priorities in order to help further prevent illegal purchases of firearms from federally licensed retailers.”
CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb came out swinging as well, stating, “Suddenly Mr. Obama wants to get more criminal and mental health records into the NICS background check data base and get a permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Where has he been for the last four years?”
These are proposals that have been long supported by the firearms community, Gottlieb contended. However, he said they have previously “fallen on deaf ears.”
The president said he will nominate B. Todd Jones, currently acting ATF director, to become permanent director. Agency insiders have told Examiner that Jones is widely respected and that he has taken positive action against the people inside the agency who were directly responsible for Operation Fast and Furious.
But Gottlieb and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre have taken off the gloves. In a letter reportedly circulated at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show here in Las Vegas, LaPierre blasted the meeting that Vice President Joe Biden held last week with representatives from the firearms community, and made clear that the fight is on.
“The NRA sat in on a White House meeting that was sold to the public as an ‘open discussion’ about how to improve school safety,” LaPierre said in the letter, which was quoted by the Washington Post. “But that was a dirty lie. They didn’t listen to gun owners’ concerns…they didn’t consider any real solutions on how we can keep our kids safe. Instead Barack Obama, Joe Biden and their gun ban allies in Congress only want to BLAME you, VILIFY you, BULLY you, and STRIP you of your Second Amendment freedoms.”
UPDATE: This column spoke with some NRA staffers who were not aware of any letter being circulated at the SHOT Show.
In his press release, Gottlieb asserted, “The measures being proposed by the president will not prevent a repeat of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and he knows it. The initials ‘B. O.’ stand for more than Barrack Obama. They stand for the bad odor of his failed policies and his blame game.”
The real hurdles may be with the medical and psychiatric community because of Mr. Obama’s desire that doctors might be encouraged to report threats of violence by their patients to law enforcement. Another of his executive orders will “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.”
This has been a major sticking point with gun rights activists, who insist that physicians should stick to medicine and not delve into firearms safety because they are not certified firearms instructors.
On this second day of the SHOT Show — the largest industry gathering of its type in the world — industry leaders and thousands of retailers are taking a hard look at the president’s agenda. Considering the prevailing attitude, Mr. Obama was correct when he told his audience today that he expects a very tough fight.
President Obama's executive orders, as listed by Fox News:
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. 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.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. 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.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. 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.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.