Obama acts on background checks
By The Associated Press
Published: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, 7:48 p.m.
HONOLULU — The Obama administration on Friday announced a pair of executive actions aimed at strengthening federal background checks for gun purchasers, with a particular focus on limiting firearm access for those with mental health issues.
One proposed rule change aims to clarify terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons. The administration said states have complained that some wording is ambiguous, making it difficult to determine who should be blocked from buying a weapon.
The change would help states determine what information may be shared with the federal background check system for firearms transfers. The system has prevented more than 2 million guns from falling into the wrong hands, the Justice Department said.
A second proposed rule change would give hospitals and other entities covered by patient privacy provisions more flexibility in the information they provide to the background check system.
However, the administration said the rule change would not require reporting on general mental health care or legally prohibit someone from having a firearm solely because they sought treatment.
The White House announced the proposals while President Obama is vacationing in Hawaii.
Obama put forward sweeping gun control measures last year, prompted by the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But the toughest proposals, including stricter background checks, fell flat on Capitol Hill, forcing the White House to rely on piecemeal measures that can be implemented without congressional approval.
Several perpetrators of the nation's worst mass shootings have had mental health issues, including Newtown shooter Adam Lanza. However, they acquired their guns in different ways, with Lanza using firearms purchased by his mother when he went on a rampage inside Sandy Hook Elementary.
In announcing the proposed rule changes, the White House called on Congress to again tackle gun control issues this year. However, there's little indication that lawmakers plan to take up the issue.
“Today, we are taking steps to further strengthen the federal background check system. It's time Congress joins us in this effort,” Vice President Joe Biden tweeted. Biden has led the White House's anti-gun violence efforts since the Newtown shooting.
The rule changes were proposed by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. The agencies must accept and analyze public comments before issuing final rules.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Patriots’ back Nevada rancher; Reid labels them ‘domestic terrorists’
- Del Taco customers mistakenly charged thousands for fast-food meals
- Health care law enrollee passwords at risk for Heartbleed Internet security flaw, feds warn
- IRS, other agencies award contracts to license plate tracking company
- Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
- Fox fires exec who used email to plan aid
- Ohio couple married for 70 years dies just 15 hours apart
- First date in New Jersey ends with him pilfering her TV and Yorkshire terrier
- Mauling puts bears back on firing line in Central Florida
- Washington’s snowy owl recovers from apparent bus crash, returns to wild
- Drug crime reclassification to help ex-cons get vote rights