Obama’s executive order on gun control has four main components: mandatory background checks for anyone trying to purchase a firearm, funding for 200 new Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents, increased access to mental health care and research into gun safety technology.
These new background checks are being strengthened by the FBI, and everyone trying to sell a gun, whether online, at a gun show or in a traditional brick-and-mortar building, will be required to run a background check on their customer.
In addition to new agents, the ATF will have a new branch dedicated solely to tracking illegal firearm trafficking online.
The Internet Investigation Center is in addition to the creation of another new ATF branch, the National Integrated Online Ballistics Information Network.
Dealers who ship firearms will also have to inform law enforcement if their weapons are stolen or lost while being transported in the near future, as per a new ATF rule.
The order also proposes the investment of $500 million dollars in mental health care access.
The Social Security Administration is working on a rule that will expand background checks to include the information of beneficiaries of people trying to purchase a firearm, specifically if their beneficiaries are prohibited from owning a weapon for mental health reasons.
The Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security have been directed by President Obama to either conduct or fund research into gun safety technology. This technology includes fingerprint recognition for authorized users only for those who own firearms for home defense and would prevent children or home invaders from firing the weapons.
A poll from the Pew Research Center shows bipartisan support for stronger background checks, laws preventing those who are mentally ill from purchasing firearms, federal database tracking of gun sales and bans on assault-style weapons.
This should be an indication that the population is more than ready for these common sense reforms to take place.
“We have a huge mental health problem in this country… The guns don’t pull the trigger, it’s the people that pull the trigger,” said Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” argument isn’t all-encompassing, however. Who could deny advancing gun technology so weapons recognize an authorized user or users would be a bad thing?
This would prevent children from accidentally shooting themselves or someone else. The legislation doesn’t affect anyone who’s already abiding the law, as some gun vendors themselves have pointed out. It may seem trivial to them, but for anyone who’s trafficking firearms online without a permit and without conducting background checks on their customers, this new legislation will be very, very bad news.
The AFT can catch unlicensed, illegal dealers after as little as two transactions, and some dealers have already been caught.
No matter what is being proposed, executive action and orders are always met with mixed reception at best, and this has been no different.
Executive order is, after all, a bit counter-intuitive. The U.S. was formed to escape a government in which one person controlled everything, and executive orders bypass other leaders.
The most outspoken critics of the order have been the Republican presidential candidates. The candidates debated on Thursday, Jan. 14 and all had some strong language against the order.
“The first impulse of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is to take away rights from law abiding citizens.” said former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Bush also said the order was “unconstitutional.”
“The president wants to do things without working with his Congress… That’s a dictatorship, and we have to be very concerned about that,” said Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie.
Critics have suggested criminals who want firearms will find a way to obtain them regardless of rules.
Additionally, some feel the orders attack will do little to nothing to close the gun-show loop, as those vendors are already following the laws in how they conduct their business.
On the other hand, some feel the order doesn’t do enough to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands, either.
REEL IN THE OUTRAGE
This isn’t a perfect order. It won’t stop every mass shooting.
However, it’s far from tyrannical as Christie has suggested.
Executive orders are used during times when the Congress or the House have failed to act on a pressing matter and the president has found it necessary to take charge.
In short, the order doesn’t do anything to people who are already abiding the law, amps up regulations that are already in place and invests in a future where guns won’t react to people who aren’t authorized to use them.
Because these reforms were shown to have bipartisan support, it’s hard not to think the Republican candidates are opposing it simply because it’s Obama.
Their claims that this violates the Second Amendment are untrue.
No one’s rights are being taken away. Guns simply aren’t going to be available to people who shouldn’t have them.
This won’t prevent all gun violence, but it won’t infringe on anyone who’s already following the rules either.
People should resist the temptation to be outraged by the order, because it is the jump start the U.S. needs to protect its citizens from more of the devastation they’ve already faced.