I once had a job where one day every employee was asked to sign a non-compete contract. Only it wasn’t a contract. It was a page of a contract that someone had taken from the Internet. It had no witness signature. No date. And didn’t make a lot of sense in the same way that one page of a book doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some were upset by this and wanted a better or different contract. Personally, I didn’t like the idea of non-compete contract and I happily signed it knowing that it was essentially worthless, giving them none of the powers they really want and at the same time making them feel better about everything. Unfortunately, it seems the pro-gun people apparently aren’t smart enough to recognize when they’re in a similar situation.
WHAT OBAMA’S PLAN DOESN’T DO
Before we look at what Obama’s 23 Executive Orders and his other proposals do, let’s take a look at what they DON’T do.
It Doesn’t Take Away Any Guns You Currently Own
Nothing in what Obama is proposing takes away your guns. If you’ve got an assault rifle with an extended clip, that thing will stay legal even if Obama gets everything he wants. The proposal only affects future production and purchase.
It Doesn’t Cost Too Much
No matter what, $500 million seems like a lot of money. However, that’s because you’re not the federal government. Bush spent an estimated $700 million a DAY on the Iraq War. From a Federal budget perspective, it’s cheap. To put it another way, $500 million is 0.00003041956% of the national debt.
It Doesn’t Infringe On The 2nd Amendment
There is nothing in Obama’s proposal that infringes on the 2nd Amendment. The words ‘well regulated’ are often forgotten in the 2nd Amendment. The assault weapons ban isn’t even anything new and was first proposed by Ronald Reagan.
He Hasn’t Created Any New Laws
Obama’s 23 Executive Orders did not create 23 new laws. They didn’t even create one new law because we don’t live in a dictactorship and that’s not how laws are created. Similarly, his proposal is just that. It’s a proposal. Congress will do with it what they will, but it isn’t a royal decree.
These are all things that pro-gun people were terrified of and still are. Many think that everything I just said isn’t true and that Obama is taking away guns, spending more money than any President in history, eliminating the 2nd Amendment and just making up laws on the fly. And yet, he’s doing none of these things. The only one that’s even possible is that there may end up being some new gun laws on the books, but that’s only after congress passes them because that’s how things are done in America.
THE EXECUTIVE ORDERS
So let’s take a look at what Obama’s plans would actually do. We’ll start with his Executive Orders since they are the only part of his plan that are definitely happening.
Better Background Checks
The first six of Obama’s 23 Executive Orders are about improving background checks on gun buyers. This is something that should be a no-brainer. A thorough background check before giving someone a deadly weapon is just common sense. Background checks are already a typical part of many gun purchases. This just makes those background checks easier and better.
Increase Gun Safety
Three of the Executive Orders (7, 8, and 15) are about increasing gun safety. This is something that the NRA in the 1960s would have spearheaded. These include launching a gun safety campaign, reviewing standards for gun locks and safes, and creating new gun safety technology. Accidental shootings and shootings using stolen guns are all too frequent. This again seems like something obvious to me and isn’t really something any pro-gun person should be against.
Increases Mental Health Awareness And Coverage
Six of the Executive Orders (16, 17, and20-23) are about mental health. They include having clarifying what Medicaid must cover and making mental health a priority when it comes to essential health benefits. It also clarifies that health care providers can ask about guns in the homes of patients and report threats of violence from patients. One of the loudest arguments heard from the right is that this isn’t about guns. This is about mental health. So there should be no pushback from the right on this.
Make Gun Crimes Easier To Track And Prosecute
Three (9, 10, and 13) of the Executive Orders are about assisting law enforcement in the pursuit of crimes committed with firearms. They include requiring all guns recovered in criminal investigations to be traced and making information on lost and stolen guns widely available as well as focusing on prosecuting gun related crimes.
Encourages Schools To Have Armed Guards
This was the centerpiece of the NRA’s press conference and Obama has decided to make it part of his plan. Three of his Executive Orders (12, 18, 19) are specific to schools and school shootings. They include having training for school officials and first responders in how to deal with active shooting situation and providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers. His proposal includes language asking for incentives to hire police officers to guard schools.
Actually Study What Causes Gun Violence
The fourteenth Executive order requests the Center for Disease Control to look into what we can do when it comes to curbing gun violence. This is an interesting choice because it both acknowledges the problem as a social one and also implies that Obama is admitting we don’t have all the answers yet.
For those of you keeping count that’s only 22 of the Executive Orders I’ve talked about that’s because the eleventh Executive Order is simply nominating a director for the ATF. All of the stuff mentioned about is everything that the Executive Orders did.
Obama’s proposal is another story. First off, as mentioned before, it’s a proposal. It’s not a set of laws. It’s not a bill for Congress to pass. They’re just ideas the Obama administration believes would increase public safety and lower gun violence. Some of them are ideas that could be put into law assuming they get through both the House and the Senate. You can read the full proposal here. I’ll quickly go over some of the ideas he covers.
The Assault Weapons Ban
Obama wants to reinstate the assault weapons ban. He also wants to close many of the loopholes that make it possible for assault weapons to get around the ban. However, he’s leaving one giant loophole in: If you’ve already got one, then you’re fine. This loophole is likely to result in many paranoid gun enthusiasts purchasing assault rifles.
Ban High Capacity Magazines and Armor Piercing Bullets
The proposal asks to ban any magazine that holds more than ten bullets. The idea behind this is simple: It’s hard to mow down a crowd of people when you have to reload. This is a measure specifically designed to stop mass killings. Again, if you’ve already got one, you won’t be in trouble. The same cannot be said of armor piercing bullets. Already illegal to sell, his proposal would also make them illegal to own.
The rest of Obama’s proposal has to do with increasing the number of police officers, school counselors, and mental health professionals. All of which are good ideas that have nothing to do with infringing on 2nd Amendment rights.
And yet, in every forum I’ve gone to today, I’ve encountered people who are freaking out at the cost and calling Obama a socialist and saying he wants to take every gun in America and going stark raving mad at the sheer audacity of Obama to even mention the concept of doing something about gun violence. They’re so mad in fact that they don’t see this for what it is. It’s a gift.
Obama is being widely praised for being ‘bold’, but really every single thing he’s suggested is entirely reasonable and not really any sort of attack on the lives of gun enthusiasts. He could have suggested that anyone with a gun that’s not a hunting rifle has to turn it in to be destroyed. He could have suggested we re-examine the 2nd Amendment in its entirety. Instead he’s basically said, ‘Hey, keep your guns. We’re going to make policing gun crimes easier. We’re going to focus on mental health. And if you happen to want an assault rifle, go ahead and get one right now. No problem.’
Many of the things Obama have suggested I whole-heartedly agree with. There are many more that he didn’t even mention that I’d like to see happen. I would have liked him to require every gun owner to go through both psychological testing and firearms use and safety testing immediately and if they fail firearms test, they have to take a class before they can legally own any firearms. I can only imagine the mouth-frothing rage that right wingers would have had if he had done that.