Gun Control

On January 5, 2016, President Barack Obama unveiled his newest plan to curb gun violence and implement stricter gun control regulations. In a televised event in front of the families of some of those affected by gun violence, the President gave a tearful speech, condemning gun violence and arguing for the implementation of stricter laws.

“We’ve created a system in which dangerous people are allowed to play by a different set of rules than a responsible gun owner who buys his or her gun the right way and subjects themselves to a background check.”

The emotional display caused hostile journalists to question the president’s emotions. They even wondered if we should “check the podium for a raw onion.” But, questioning Obama’s tears wasn’t the only attack Obama’s announcement faced, even before the speech, Republican candidates began voicing their opinions.

The Houston Gun Show. A loophol allows many to bypass background checks at shows like this. photo courtesy of M&R Glaslow

The Houston Gun Show. A loophol allows many to bypass background checks at shows like this.
photo courtesy of M&R Glaslow

Governor Chris Christie called Obama’s plan unconstitutional. Governor Jeb Bush attacked Obama by saying “his first impulse is always to take rights away from law-abiding citizens.” Senator Ted Cruz even took advantage of the emotional announcement to re-declare his pro-gun stance: “[Obama] can abuse his power all he wants, he has a phone and he has a pen. But if you live by the pen, you die by the pen. And my pen has got an eraser.”

Looking over the fact that Ted Cruz is probably talking about a pencil with an eraser, not a pen, many of these pro-gun / anti-restriction feelings come from a justifiable place. The second amendment states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The purpose of the second amendment is principally to protect the citizens, to allow for change by force, if necessary. The fear is that infringing upon these rights opens up the door an Orwellian America.

So where does Obama’s new gun control executive action fall on the spectrum of allowing The Purge to setting up Big Brother. Let’s take a look. All of the bullet points below are official quotes from the White House’s press release on the matter, the paragraphs preceding them are background information and context written by me.

  1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.

Currently under the Brady Law, there is already a system of background checks. However background checks are only required when the sale is by a licensed dealers. If you aren’t a licensed dealer and want to sell directly to someone, then you don’t need to conduct a background check, this is known as the “gun show loophole.” Even scarier though, this also applies to sales over the Internet, and gun trade on Facebook or eBay is both very lawful and frequent.

  •              The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.
  •              ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity.
  •              Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence.
  •              The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.
  1. Make our communities safer from gun violence.

                  This part of the law doesn’t add anything particularly new, but it pressures federal agencies into enforcing the existing laws and increases their budget to give them more resources to enforce the laws.

  •              The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.
  •              The President’s FY2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.
  •              ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
  •              ATF is finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit.
  •              The Attorney General issued a memo encouraging every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.
  1. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.

                  Here Obama panders to the politicians who blame mass shootings on mental illness. “Here’s your chance to support these efforts … Put your money where your mouth is.” -Obama

  •              The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.
  •              The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.
  •              The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.
  1. Shape the future of gun safety technology.

                  Once again, there are no new laws here, merely a tentative plan for the future. Obama is encouraging agencies to prioritize gun technology. “If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?”

  •              The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.
  •              The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.


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About Luke Righetti

Luke, a senior at Lick, is the Arts and Leisure editor for the Hyphen as well as a writer for the Paper Tiger. This is his first year with the journalism team and he is really excited to write for the Hyphen and the Paper Tiger. He first began writing fictional stories in pre-school, creating picture books and comics. He loves watching, talking, and writing about movies and his favorite director is Quentin Tarantino. He is really excited to bring his passion for cinema to the Paper Tiger and Hyphen.

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