Tuesday, January 21

the 23 Executive Actions on Gun Control

I have been asked more than a few times "Whatever happened to the 23 Executive Orders on gun control?"

If you read the blog and were paying attention you would know the "23 Executive Orders" were reported by the sensationalist "news media" as Executive Orders - but the turned out to be more of 23 Executive Actions.

Remember - I have said repeatedly that the Memorandum is just as important as the Executive Order

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President Obama unveiled his plan to reduce gun violence on January 16th in 2013 and it included 23 "executive actions" (the word is important - actions not orders) to make sure "the Administration was taking essential and rapid steps to reduce gun violence".

Here are the 23 "actions" and "accomplishments" on the actions thus far

1) Hold federal agencies accountable for sharing reliable information with the background check system: President Obama directed federal agencies to make all relevant records (pertinent documentation including criminal history records and information related to persons prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons) available to the federal background check system. This was accomplished by Presidential Memorandum: Improving Availability of Relevant Executive Branch Records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System

2) Address unnecessary legal barriers that prevent states from reporting information about those prohibited from having guns: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began the process to assess and address unnecessary legal barriers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule preventing states from making appropriate data available to the federal background check system. Specifically the data from the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) which is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. HHS requested public input on how HIPAA may prevent this reporting and ways in which these barriers could be addressed. on January 7th of 2014 a "Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking" was published in the Federal Registry with a request for public comment. The public comment period is open until March 10 2014. You can review the proposed policy and make comments on the policy as listed in the Federal Registry by following this link.

3) Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system: President Obama took executive action on March 22 2013 to invest $20 million in Federal Grants through the DOJ to improve incentives for states to share information with the federal background check system on key sources of data on persons prohibited from having guns, including felons and those prohibited for mental health reasons. The information is for use in the NICS. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already issued solicitations for these Grants to states. The Administration is proposing $50 million for this purpose in FY2014. Funding will be provided under National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP), NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP), and a new, one-time initiative called, Improving the Completeness of Firearm Background Checks through Enhanced State Data Sharing.

4) Encourage private sellers to run background checks through licensed dealers: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) published a letter on January 16 2013 to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers. Click here to read the letter.

5) Review categories of dangerous people prohibited from having guns: The Attorney General has undertaken a comprehensive review of our laws that identify potentially dangerous individuals who should not have access to a gun. As part of the review, DOJ has solicited input from a variety of experts and stakeholders for recommendations to ensure that dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

6) Enhance firearm tracing data: The President issued a Memorandum requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations. This tracing process allows law enforcement to follow a gun’s path from its manufacturer, to the dealer who sold it, to its first purchaser. Making sure federal law enforcement consistently traces recovered guns will help solve violent crimes by generating leads in specific cases, and aggregating large amounts of this tracing data will help reveal national gun trafficking patterns. You can read the Presidential Memorandum: Tracing of Firearms in Connection with Criminal Investigations here.

7) Help law enforcement avoid returning guns to the wrong hands: Law enforcement officers often must return firearms seized as part of an investigation, but they cannot currently use the federal background check system to conduct a check on the gun’s owner. The Department of Justice (the Department) proposed three amendments to part 25 of title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These proposed changes were intended to promote public safety and enhance the efficiency of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) operations, and to resolve difficulties created by unforeseen processing conflicts within the system. The proposed amendments were for the following purposes: to add tribal criminal justice agencies to those entities authorized to receive information in connection with the issuance of a firearm-related permit or license; to authorize access for criminal justice agencies to the FBI-maintained NICS Index to permit background checks for the purpose of disposing of firearms in the possession of those agencies; and to permit NICS to retain in a separate database its Audit Log records relating to denied transactions beyond 10 years, rather than transferring them to a Federal Records Center for storage. Click here for the Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comments Requested Revision of a Previous Approved Collection: Firearm Inquiry Statistics Program as listed in the Federal Registry

8) Provide effective training on responding to active shooter situations to law enforcement officers, first responders, and school officials: DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have provided and will continue to provide more federal training for law enforcement, first responders and school officials on active shooter situations. This includes trainings for local law enforcement at FBI field offices across the country and active shooter roundtables, workshops, and site security assessments DHS has conducted with police and fire chiefs and school officials. DHS launched an active shooter webpage, which includes training resources for federal, state, and local partners, and the public.

9) Publish data on lost and stolen guns: DOJ issued a report for 2012 analyzing information on lost and stolen guns, making it widely available to law enforcement and the public. This report includes state-by-state statistics about guns reported as missing by licensed gun dealers and individual gun owners. Read the 2012 report here. It was issued on June 17 2013.

10) Maximize enforcement efforts: The Attorney General is working with United States Attorneys to maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. The Attorney General formed a working group to assess anti-violence strategies and initiatives.

11) Appoint a Director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF): The ATF did not have a confirmed director for six years. President Obama nominated B. Todd Jones as Director of the ATF. He was confirmed on July 31st 2013 and Vice President Biden performed the swearing in ceremony on August 29 2013. See President Obama's statement on the confirmation of ATF Director Todd here.

12) Give schools and other institutions a model for how to develop and implement reliable plans: A 2010 survey found that 84 percent of public schools had a written response plan in the event of a shooting, but only 52 percent had drilled their students on the plan in the past year. The Department of Education, DOJ (led by the FBI), DHS (led by FEMA), and HHS have developed high-quality emergency management planning guides for schools, institutions of higher education, and houses of worship.

13) Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers: Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Grants, which is designed to help police departments hire officers, has already been used by departments to fund school resource officers. The DOJ has also begun work to develop a model and training curriculum on the effective use of school resource officers to help create safe and nurturing school climates. COPS Supporting Safe Schools page COPS Office announced the award of 266 FY 2013 COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grants for approximately $127 million. The COPS Office provided funding to hire police officers, with priority consideration for the hiring of school resource officers. See the School Resource Officer Hire list here.

14) Launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign: On March 7th 2013 The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) awarded $1 million to the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) to support the development of a National Public Education Campaign on the subject of responsible gun ownership and safe gun storage. Read the article on the $1 Million Department of Justice Award here

15) Encourage the development of innovative gun safety technology: DOJ issued a report reviewing the availability and use of new gun safety technologies. This report incorporated input from a meeting the Attorney General hosted with stakeholders, including manufacturers and technology experts. Building on this report, the Administration will issue a challenge to the private sector to develop innovative and cost-effective gun safety technology and provide prizes for those technologies that are proven to be reliable and effective. 

16) Review and enhance safety standards for gun locks and gun safes: The Office of the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission has reviewed the safety standards for gun locks and gun safes and fully engaged the relevant voluntary standards body, which has begun a process to improve the standards. The National Institute of Justice published the attached 96 page report in June of 2013

17) Conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence: President Obama issued the Presidential Memorandum: Engaging in Public Health Research on the Causes and Prevention of Gun Violence directing the CDC to research the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence. The Institute of Medicine published a report on Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence

18) Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: In response to public confusion about whether federal law prohibits health care providers from reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities, HHS issued a letter to providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports. Read the letter by clicking here.

19) Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: HHS issued guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise limit communication between health care professionals and patients, including about firearms. Health care providers can play an important role in promoting gun safety. Question 5 on the Affordable Care Act Implementation Part XI Webpage FAQ Published January 24 2013: "Does PHS Act section 2717(c) restrict communications between health care professionals and their patients concerning firearms or ammunition? No. While we have yet to issue guidance on this provision, the statute prohibits an organization operating a wellness or health promotion program from requiring the disclosure of information relating to certain information concerning firearms. However, nothing in this section prohibits or otherwise limits communication between health care professionals and their patients, including communications about firearms. Health care providers can play an important role in promoting gun safety."

20) Launch a national conversation to increase understanding about mental health: The Administration launched MentalHealth.gov, a website featuring information about basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health and how to find help for you or a loved one. 

21) Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services: An Affordable Care Act rule that expands mental health and substance use disorder benefits and parity protections for 62 million Americans. B

22) Make sure millions of Americans covered by Medicaid get quality mental health coverage: Department of Health and Human Services released a letter to state health officials making clear how Medicaid plans must comply with requirements to ensure that mental health care is covered the same as other medical services. Read the HHS letter: Application of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act to Medicaid MCOs, CHIP, and Alternative Benefit (Benchmark) Plans

23) Finalize rule under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008: On November 8 2013 the Administration issued the final rule implementing the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. You can read the HHS press release here

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