Our View: Examine the president’s proposals
President Obama on Wednesday laid out his 23 executive orders and several legislative proposals to Congress that he believes will reduce gun violence in the United States. Expectedly, the reaction from some quarters was his ideas will do no good and he’s trampling on our rights.
In announcing the action, the president noted that getting his legislative proposals through Congress “will be difficult” — which is very true. But before the battle lines are drawn and the philosophical divides widen, let’s all take a rational look at what Obama proposed last week.
At first blush, the issuance of 23 executive orders by the president might have sounded to some like a heavy-handed tactic by an imperial ruler. But read the list before retreating to your Second Amendment bunker. A number of the orders sound reasonable and doable and actually seem in concert with some of the ideas of pro-gun advocates.
For example, several of the 23 orders would enhance the effectiveness of the national background check system. One order says, “Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.” Another: “Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly in relation to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.” And another: “Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.”
Those three orders of the 23 go hand-in-hand with Obama’s proposal to Congress that every gun sale, including private transactions, require a background check of the purchaser. And strengthening requirements for background checks is legislation that even the most ardent gun rights advocate ought to be able to support. Even the National Rifle Association is supportive of tighter background checks of firearms purchasers.
So the point here is, let’s not immediately dismiss Obama’s executive orders last week as a presidential power grab. And let’s also give him the opportunity to present his legislative proposals for curbing gun violence to Congress. For many, the president’s suggestions that so-called military-style assault weapons and ammunition magazines with capacities greater than 10 rounds be banned are unacceptable. But still, before rejecting the president’s proposals — and any ideas from any source for addressing this matter — let’s have a national dialogue to find reasonable approaches to addressing gun violence.