Obama Gun Control Executive Orders Will Look to Fix the Mental Health Problem in America


President Obama announced his plan to address gun violence and gun control, policy topics which have exploded in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It is a sweeping gun control policy. Obama announced, “I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe's task force. And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality.” The policy included the recommendations of the task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. The policy addresses four areas: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health. Elements of the policy include:

- Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales;

- Reinstating the assault weapons ban;

- Restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines;

- Eliminating armor-piercing bullets;

- Providing mental health services in schools;

- Allocating funds to hire more police officers;

- Instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies;

- A permanent director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The policy calls for funding to support first responders and police officers, and training for teachers and other school officials. The Obama plan asks for an increase in gun violence research, including removing any real or perceived bans preventing scientific agencies from conducting comprehensive research. Congress has a ban preventing the Center of Disease Control and other agencies from using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control.

The measures include a proposal to hire 1,000 school resource officers and placing mental health professionals in schools. The White House explained, “Putting school resource officers and mental health professionals in schools can help prevent school crime and student-on-student violence.” School resource officers are specially trained police officers that work in schools. When equipped with proper training and supported by evidence-based school discipline policies, they can deter crime with their presence and advance community policing.

The mental health care recommendations included a focus on providing service to young people, e.g. “stipends and tuition reimbursement to train more than 5,000 mental health professionals serving young people in our schools and communities.” The administration will finalize the mental health care provisions of the Affordable Care Act and will issue a letter to state health officials reminding them that Medicaid plans must comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

Obama’s policy also includes the immediate signing of 23 executive actions.

Obama said, “As soon as I'm finished speaking here, I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”

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."