President Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun control, sending directives to many Federal agencies. Some of these orders are good steps, but many are rhetoric and won't accomplish much. Here's a break down of the orders:
Order 1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
This is certainly a good thing, if they actually do it. As one of my previous articles demonstrates, the Obama administration has not followed through with the actual execution of existing laws and Congress has only funded NICS (the background check system) at 5.3% of approved amounts for the last 3 years.
Order 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.
This is good, provided actual action is taken.
Order 3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
This is also very good. It will be interesting to see what specifics this covers, i.e., what incentives, as well as to see how states respond with actual reporting. Also covered previously is that 19 states have provided almost nothing in the way of records so far.
Order 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.
This smells of rhetoric. If they present something concrete that was a significant oversight, I'll stand corrected.
Order 5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
This could have an impact. I see no reason why gun owners would object to someone who is prohibited from possessing a gun from having one. However, if this ends up used in practice as a delay tactic to keep lawful owners from receiving their guns back, it would not be a good thing.
Order 6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
This will have an impact if Congress separately passes legislation requiring private sellers to sell through federally licensed dealers. This seems to indicate they are hoping to acheive that.
Order 7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
Rhetoric. Safety is good, but I see this as more of a move to designed so they can say "See? We did something," rather than an actual measure designed to reduce crime, mass shootings or even accidents.
Order 8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Also mostly rhetoric. "Reviewing" safety standards in and of itself isn't bad. However, I don't see a reasonable expectation of improving anything. Gun locks aren't needed if the gun is in a safe. Gun locks shouldn't be used on a personal defense conceal carry weapon (which should be stored in a safe when not used - even if a bedside safe like a Gunvault safe).
Order 9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
If they weren't doing this already, then shame on the administration.
Order 10. Release a Department of Justice report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
This could end up providing interesting information over time. Kudos. Analyzing after the fact won't prevent crime though.
Order 11. Nominate an ATF director.
This is something Obama could — and should — have done a long time ago. He should direct "If there's even one thing we could do" comments to himself on this one.
Order 12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
This is something that is already available. It will be interesting to see what specifics are involved with this order. Does it provide greater Federal agency involvement in training? Is it funded? If not, how does the president plan to address this failing, like the failure to fund the NICS system?
Order 13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
Rhetoric. Does this suggest efforts are not currently maximized? This is "feel good" language.
Order 14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
Order 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.
I don't forsee anything new or Earth-shattering here either. Primary gun safety is with the person holding the gun - assume it's loaded, check to verify if it is loaded, never point it at a person or any target unless you intend to shoot it, never put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and always be sure of your target and what's beyond it.
Order 16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
Order 17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
Same as 16.
Order 18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
This is interesting. The president is essentially backing the NRA proposal here. "Resource officer" means an armed adult staff member, be it school administrator or teacher.
Order 19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education.
This can't hurt, but is essentially part of the existing active shooter response training already available.
Order 20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
Order 21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
Order 22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
If these orders have the net result that patients have better access to mental health care, then in total, the above 3 orders are good.
Order 23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
We need a robust discussion on mental health. Directing one on paper could be good, but doesn't mean anything at the end of the day, unless this is truly pursued. Mental health discussion is not likely to net instant gratification, so it will likely fall by the wayside.
Overall, there are some good steps represented in these orders, however many of them amount to "feel good" language and re-stating what already exists. To really dig into the meat of these issues, real action must be taken, not just more words printed on paper. I applaud the steps outlined for the most part, but contend real action is beyond what is represented here.