Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Thoughts on Obama's Gun Control Points

Today Obama released his thoughts on gun control and violence prevention.  I'm surprised that I'm in agreement with several of them.  I'm going to offer my thoughts on each one here.

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. 
This seems like a good idea.  I'm not sure why it's not already happening.  I'd like to see what is meant by "relevant", but providing criminal history at all levels to the background check is a good idea.  Providing a list of names who say things the administration in power doesn't agree with is a bad idea.

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. 
I can certainly see how it will be a difficult path to discern to arrive at this policy.  Balances doctor-patient confidentiality with public safety will be challenging.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system. 
This is a huge problem.  States are required to report information to the national background check system, and most of them don't as mentioned in previous blogs.  This is a good idea that will help keep guns out of the hands of prohibited people.

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. 
This is a reasonable idea in general, but our specific Attorney General has shown he has very poor judgment when it comes to firearms, since he authorized the trafficking of guns to Mexican drug cartels that have been used in the murder of US and Mexican citizens.  Reviewing policies is a good thing, but Holder has proved his cannot be trusted with important decisions like this.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
I'm torn on this one, as it contrasts property rights against public safety.  If my gun is stolen, it seems unreasonable that I have to do a background check to get it back.  But proving I'm not a prohibited person in any transfer seems like a reasonable restriction.  I guess it comes down to whether the police that recover a gun are actually the temporary owners of that gun, and it is a transfer, or if that remains my property under their custody. 

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers. 
Um, duh.  I'm amazed there aren't already helpful guidelines for this.  The ATF creates enough paperwork.  I've paid for FFL holders to do transfer for me before, it's not hard to do.  It is hilarious that one of the steps is "Publish a letter". 

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign. 
Eh, whatever.  The NRA already does this.  It can't hurt but will likely be a waste of money.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission). 
This one seems odd.  Is there a problem with shoddily manufactured gun locks or safes?  All new firearms already come with a lock.  I"m not sure what this will do other than throw busy work to a bureaucrat.  

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. 
This is a good idea.  When guns are used in crimes, it's a good idea to figure out how those guns got into criminal hands.  When the data is collected we can figure out where the holes are and how to improve.

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. 
No shit.  This has been an outstanding issue for some time, and is already one of your job duties, Mr President.  I'm not sure why you needed to wait for a tragedy to do this.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations. 
This is a good idea.  I'd like to see this opened up to certain civilians as well.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. 
Yes.  Stop giving perpetrators of gun crimes a slap on the wrist.  Don't use this as an excuse to promote concepts that infringe on liberty, like stop and frisk.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. 
Whatever.  More busy work for government bureaucrats.  Why the CDC spends so much time on firearms instead of AIDS or the flu, I'll never understand.  It's sad they have become a propaganda arm of the government instead of a health research.

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. 
Fuck that.  This administration supports implausible ideas like microstamping and electronic safeties that don't actually work but add significant cost to products.  Increasing the cost of a product by 50% or 100% and reducing the reliability and durability is a bad idea, especially when it won't lead to a reduction in crime.  See also Holder's track record on making poor decisions regarding firearms in point 4.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 
There is no proof this will prevent crime at all, and it is intrusive.   It's not my physicians business to know if I own a firearm, a motorcycle, a hang glider, scuba gear or anything else they personally thing is dangerous. 

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities. 
Ha, another "write a letter" step. 

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. 
I have no real opinion here.  Education and education budgets and how they should be allocated are a whole other topic.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education. 
This seems like a reasonable job for the Department of Homeland Security.  Perhaps they can divert some of their staff and funds that arm police departments with military hardware and watch peaceful demonstrations to actually providing material that will increase the security of citizens of this country.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover. 
Wow!  Three letters will be written.  That's impressive.  Maybe his next declaration will call out some Facebook posts or tweets that should be made.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges. 
Huh?  What does this have to do with gun control or violence prevention?

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations. 
See point 21.  Seriously, even in unilateral efforts we get pork inserted. 

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
I can't decide if a "dialogue" is going to be more or less effective than releasing a letter.  Only time will tell.

The good news here is the president didn't seek to bypass congress in the passing of new laws or regulations that restricts the rights of citizens.  That's a good thing.  I also think some of these ideas have merit and can contribute to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and prohibited people.  I think some of these ideas can be positive steps, others not so much.

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