FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

On Thursday, the Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013.

Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the President and Vice President remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence.

Building on the 23 Executive Actions the President and Vice President Unveiled Last January

  • Last December, the President asked the Vice President to develop a series of recommendations to reduce gun violence. On January 16, 2013, they released these proposals, including 23 executive actions. With the first Senate confirmation of an ATF Director on July 31, 2013, the Administration has completed or made significant progress on 22 of the 23 executive actions. The new executive actions unveiled today build on this successful effort.

Closing a Loophole to Keep Some of the Most Dangerous Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

  • Current law places special restrictions on many of the most dangerous weapons, such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns.  These weapons must be registered, and in order to lawfully possess them, a prospective buyer must undergo a fingerprint-based background check.
  •  However, felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check and gain access to machine guns or other particularly dangerous weapons by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation.  At present, when the weapon is registered to a trust or corporation, no background check is run.  ATF reports that last year alone, it received more than 39,000 requests for transfers of these restricted firearms to trusts or corporations.
  • Today, ATF is issuing a new proposed regulation to close this loophole.  The proposed rule requires individuals associated with trusts or corporations that acquire these types of weapons to undergo background checks, just as these individuals would if the weapons were registered to them individually.  By closing this loophole, the regulation will ensure that machine guns and other particularly dangerous weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.

Keeping Surplus Military Weapons Off Our Streets

  • When the United States provides military firearms to its allies, either as direct commercial sales or through the foreign military sales or military assistance programs, those firearms may not be imported back into the United States without U.S. government approval.  Since 2005, the U.S. Government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 of these firearms.
  • Today, the Administration is announcing a new policy of denying requests to bring military-grade firearms back into the United States to private entities, with only a few exceptions such as for museums.  This new policy will help keep military-grade firearms off our streets.

GOP: “Just Enforce Existing Laws”

Really?  And just exactly which laws might that be?

  • Gun Show laws that allow people who are listed on the terrorist “No Fly List” to go to a gun show and buy as many guns as they want as an entirely legal transactions?
  • Gun Show laws that allow someone convicted of armed robbery to buy, without a background check, as many guns as they want from a gun show.

Most people think the background check law for gun sales already cover these types of sales and that you already have to undergo a background check when buying a gun at a gun show.  That’s smply NOT the case, and merely enforcing existing laws will do absolutely nothing to close that 40% of gun sales loophole for criminals, the insane and even terrorists who seek to obtain some serious firepower to reek havoc on the peoples of our nation. Check out the clip above to see Colbert respond to extreme gun rights defenders.

Two different polls by two different polling firms found 86% of Nevadans support closing these background check loopholes. That level of support is rare for any policy issue, let alone on something purportedly controversial like guns, but we see it on background checks because both conservatives and progressives know it’s the right thing to do. But to make a difference you have to act now.


Sen. Heller — Bought and Paid for by the Gun Lobby

How much does it cost to block a bill in the U.S. Senate? What about a bill that’s supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people?

45 Senators voted to block a bill to expand criminal background checks, and the gun lobby spent at least $8,165,490 to support their campaigns.

Check out the receipt for Senator Heller’s vote.

91% of Americans — including 74% of NRA members — support criminal background checks for all gun sales. But Senator Heller ignored the will of his constituents and gave in to the money and influence of the gun lobby.  It’s shameful and everyone should know about it. Please share this graphic with your friends and family.

Gun Violence Double-Speak

I’m always fascinated how folks in Washington are always saying they need a comprehensive bill for this or for that.  Then, when presented with a comprehensive bill, they claim they need to fix that issue not with a massive bill, but in a step by step process.  What they’re really saying is give it to me piece by piece so I can kill what my Corporate sponsors don’t like … and I can vote for what they love.  Gun violence legislation is the most current example of the comprehensive vs. step-by-step dilemma we all to frequently face.

I recently sent an email to Sen. Harry Reid regarding “comprehensive” gun violence legislation purportedly being considered.  My email was in support of not just background checks, but restricting clip sizes as well as the ability to buy assault rifles.  Senator Reid’s response back to me is shown below and it appears to be saying two different things about the exact same thing — background checks.  It’s supposedly IN the bill, but it’s also apparently still being negotiated.  And, IF a compromise can be reached, then he’ll include it.  HUH?  I’ve highlighted the differences with two different colors of text:

“Thank you for contacting me regarding legislation to prevent gun violence. I appreciate hearing from you.

I took note of your support for Congressional action to combat senseless violence in our schools and communities. In the wake of the tragic shootings that have occurred across our nation, we must do more to safeguard all Americans from such incomprehensible violence. As a former police officer, I understand the importance of protecting our families and communities from gun violence.

On March 21, 2013, I started the process of bringing a bill to reduce gun violence to the Senate floor. The Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S.649) includes the provisions on background checks, school safety, and gun trafficking recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. I hope negotiations to reach a bipartisan compromise on background checks will continue over the coming weeks, and I am hopeful that they will succeed. If a compromise is reached, I am open to including it in the base bill. I believe that in order to be effective, any bill that passes the Senate must include background checks. (emphasis added as to ambiguity)

The bill I have advanced will serve as the basis for opening debate. Once debate begins, I will ensure that a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, and mental health provisions receive votes, along with other amendments. In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for all of these provisions to receive votes, and I will ensure that they do.

I have noted your support for the inclusion of these provisions in the Senate’s bill. As the 113th Congress works to prevent and reduce gun violence, please be assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind. “

Absent from the bill cited in Sen. Reid’s response (S.649) is any mention of assault rifles and clip-size, something that has seriously incensed Sen. Diane Feinstein and others. Also missing (and cut completely from Rep. Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget that passed the House, and that went down in flames in the Senate) was any mention of anything to address mental health issues.

Sen. Reid has clearly stated that he won’t bring anything related to assault weapons and clip sizes to the floor because “HE” doesn’t believe “HE” has enough votes to pass the bill. Personally, I don’t care if “HE” has enough votes one way or the other.   WE DESERVE A VOTE!  The families who lost their children in Sandy Hook deserve a vote.  People in Colorado who lost family members and friends in a theater one night deserve a vote.

Sen. Reid later relented that he would allow them to bring it up as an amendment to a “later bill.”   What bill might that be?

I’m not sure about you, but as a voter, I want to know WHO is for and WHO is against this as well as other issues. But Congress makes it a bit of a challenge for us to keep up with what’s taking place, or more importantly NOT taking place.  Too many people have a hard time paying attention to bills passed or not passed, or bills proposed as a stand-alone bill and then later incorporated in some other bill or added to another bill as an amendment to some unrelated bill all together.  This is a very important issue, and it WILL affect for whom many of us will cast a vote at the polls.  Whether the bill is passed or goes down in flames,  WE deserve a vote!

Sen. Reid did introduce S649 today (3/21/2013).  Text of the bill is not yet available on THOMAS, but hopefully, will be available early next week:

S. 649: Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 

A bill to ensure that all individuals who should be prohibited from buying a firearm are listed in the national instant criminal background check system and require a background check for every firearm sale, and for other purposes.

Reducing gun violence and protecting our kids

Most gun owners use their guns legally and responsibly, and the President strongly believes in an individual right to bear arms, but we need to take action to better protect our children and communities from tragic mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Connecticut.

Measures Congress Should Take—

President Obama is asking Congress to urgently introduce legislation to:

  • Eliminate loopholes and require background checks for all gun sales
  • Reinstate the prohibition on high-capacity magazines
  • Renew and strengthen the ban on assault weapons
  • Create serious penalties for gun traffickers
  • Get armor-piercing bullets off the streets by prohibiting the possession and transfer of this dangerous ammunition
  • Keep 15,000 cops on the street
  • Further research on gun violence
  • Help schools develop and implement comprehensive emergency management plans
  • Remove restrictions that require ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age

Measures the President has Taken — Closing Background Check Loopholes

President Obama is committed to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and he has signed six executive actions that will:

  • Require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system
  • Address unnecessary legal barriers that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system
  • Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system
  • 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
  • Propose rule-making to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun
  • Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers

Measures the President has Taken — Common sense steps to reduce gun violence

President Obama is not willing to wait for Congress to take action to reduce gun violence. On January 16th, 2013 he signed executive actions to introduce 11 common sense measures:

  • Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign
  • Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
  • Require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations
  • Release a DOJ (Department of Justice) report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement
  • Nominate an ATF director
  • Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations
  • Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime
  • Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence
  • 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
  • Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes
  • Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities

Measures the President has Taken — Making schools safer

At the heart of the President’s proposals to reduce gun violence is a focus on making sure our kids are safe. Through executive actions, President Obama will:

  • Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers
  • Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education

Measures the President has Taken — Increasing mental health services

“We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence—even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.” — President Obama

President Obama has moved swiftly to sign executive actions to:

  • Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover
  • Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges
  • Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations
  • Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health

How can YOU help — 3 Ways YOU Can Take Action Right Now

  1. Add your name. Show your support for President Obama’s plan to protect our kids and help reduce gun violence in America.
  2. Call the Senate and the House. Make sure your senators and representative knows you support President Obama’s plan and ask if he or she does too. You can use this simple script:

    Hi, My name is [your name] and I’m a voter in your [state or district]. I’m calling to let you know that I support President Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence and want to know whether [name of your senator or representative] does too?

  3. Spread the word. Make sure your friends and family know about the work President Obama is doing to keep our kids and communities safe: Share the President’s plan to reduce gun violence.