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Pres. Obama Issues Orders To Expand Gun Background Checks, Funding For Mental Healthcare

Pres. Obama Issues Orders To Expand Gun Background Checks, Funding For Mental Healthcare

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The United States is the most heavily armed country in the world. That translates into “a society with a firearm for nearly 90% of its more than 300 million citizens.” Not surprisingly, more than 300,000 people have lost their lives because of guns in the last decade, and nearly 900 mass shootings have torn asunder the fabric of daily lives in the last seven years.  Every day another tragedy, and every day the obstructionist Republican Congress, woefully beholden to the gun lobby, refuses to enact change. Today, however, White House officials advise that President Obama will announce on Tuesday a series of executive actions “to expand background checks for firearms and step up federal enforcement of the nation’s gun law…once again trying to sidestep a gridlocked Congress on a divisive issue.”

President Obama said the actions:

 “will potentially save lives in this country and spare families the pain and extraordinary loss they’ve suffered as result of guns being in the hands of the wrong people…”The good news is that these are not only recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch…”

The president’s remarks followed a meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and a top ATF official.  Lynch noted that “the goal is keeping bad actors away from firearms.”  And she expressed particular concern about the gun ‘hobby exception.’ Apparently, federal law allows the occasional hobbyist to sell a gun without a license.  However, under these new regulations:

“the ATF will put sellers on notice that whether they are engaged in an actual business or not depends on several factors, including how quickly they sell they guns they acquire, whether they sell guns for more than they paid for them, and how often and in what quantity they sell firearms.”

Also, the FBI is planning to hire 230 more federal examiners to conduct federal background checks on gun buyers, and the president is seeking funding from Congress “to allow ATF to hire 200 new agents and investigators to enforce gun laws. It will also seek $500 million to increase access to mental health care.”

President Obama noted that even though his actions are not large in scale, he expects opposition – and let the Republicans not disappoint. The Republican hysteria and outrage was palpable. Speaker Paul Ryan warned “the president is again targeting law-abiding citizens, intruding further into innocent Americans’ lives.” Donald Trump said on CNN “pretty soon you won’t be able to get guns.”

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Though the president is “confident his administration could act within his existing powers” – he also recognizes this action is not going to solve every violent crime, nor is it going to prevent every mass shooting.  However, an overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, believe sensible gun control is consistent with the Second Amendment and people’s lawful right to bear arms . In fact, 90% of Americans want national background checks that close loopholes, which are also supported by 74% of National Rifle Association members. Frustrated by the in action of Congress, President Obama is not only acting with the utmost moral rectitude, he is taking long-overdue action in the name of the overwhelming majority of American people.


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Colin Taylor
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.

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