White House insiders have long said that the worst day of Obama’s presidency was the day of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
What should have been a 9/11 moment for the whole nation turned out to be nothing — as in nothing changed. Congress voted against reasonable laws like universal background checks.
It is clear that Obama, facing his last year as president, is not going to rest on his laurels. Gun violence has killed 146 people in the United States this year. And it is only January 5. The Republican controlled Congress has passed nothing relating to gun control. Today he made a moving, and largely extemporaneous (in parts), speech announcing his intentions.
Here’s what the Obama administration plans to do:
- The federal government will issue guidance that will narrow who can sell guns without a federal license, based on an evaluation of the circumstances surrounding individual gun sales. The idea is to reduce the number of for-profit dealers — as opposed to collectors or people who only give or sell guns to family members or friends — who avoid background checks, whether they’re at a store, at a gun show, on the internet, or anywhere else.
- The FBI will hire more than 230 more people to help run background checks — an increase of more than 50 percent to the current staff. Lynch said this was in part needed to keep up with rising demand. “We’re looking to improve the efficiency and response time of the system,” she said.
- The government will also require background checks for people who try to buy restricted firearms through a legal entity, such as a corporation or trust. People were able to avoid background checks in the past through these entities.
- The Department of Health and Human Services will finalize a rule regarding health record privacy laws to remove barriers to states providing mental health records to the background check system.
- The administration will enforce tighter rules for reporting guns that are lost or stolen on their way to the buyer to make it easier for law enforcement to track down missing firearms.
- Federal agencies will encourage and fund more research into technologies that can make guns safer, largely to reduce the risk of accidents.
In addition to these measures, the administration will continue pushing Congress to pass tighter gun control laws, and to direct more funds to enforcing existing gun laws and to mental health treatment.
This last part is particularly good, because it addresses one aspect of gun control that is rarely discussed — suicides:
The reaction from the right and the NRA is predictable. What Digby said:
As of this writing the proposal has not been formally announced but it’s reported that he will issue executive orders to close the “private seller” loophole, which would require everyone who sells a gun as a business transaction to submit a background check. (As it is now, only licensed dealers have to do this.) It’s also expected that he’ll issue an order requiring that licensed dealers report lost or stolen guns to the authorities. It’s hard for me to believe that these slight reinterpretations of the law are even controversial but apparently making gun ownership subject to any sort of oversight is tantamount to a coup.
There is little doubt the administration anticipated the furious reaction, so one assumes they are happy to draw attention to the issue. After all, polling shows that the vast majority of Americans — and gun owners — are in favor of such commonsense gun safety regulations. Nonetheless, this will likely end up in court with a number of legal issues at stake and the gun lobby dedicated to filling its coffers on the backs of gun owners who don’t actually need to worry about any of these very mild restrictions.
In today’s White House press conference, President Obama teared up as he spoke about the victims of gun violence, especially the children massacred at Newtown.
Many conservatives took this opportunity to show themselves once again as utterly heartless sociopaths. Some are suggesting that Obama’s tears are fake.
Obama touching his eyes JUST BEFORE the tears came. He’s putting something in his eyes to create the fascist tears. pic.twitter.com/U3KBwM5L6X
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) January 5, 2016
Not just tears, but FASCIST tears.
The full Obama speech in below the fold.