Speaking ahead of President Barack Obama’s scheduled 11:55 a.m. address, senior White House staff announced a new package of 23 executive actions, many directed at limiting the sale and possession of guns.
Making good on a threat that the White House will step in if Congress fails to take action to restrict gun ownership following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Obama plans to announce the nearly two dozen actions today, effective on his order. They include directions to the Attorney General to review (and likely broaden) the categories of individuals restricted from owning a gun; publish a letter from the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms instructing federally licensed gun dealers on how to perform background checks for private sellers; lifting a congressionally-imposed freeze on gun violence research by the Center for Disease Control; and giving explicit authorization to doctors, under the Affordable Care Act, to ask patients about guns in their homes.
Obama’s overarching four-point gun violence reduction plan, which he will address as he issues the actions, is even more aggressive. It proposes requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, returning to a 10-round limit on ammunition clips, strengthening a ban on all assault weapons, and banning armor-piercing bullets.
Other actions and proposals address school safety and mental health initiatives, including funding for more school counselors and crisis training for school officials, and expanding treatment for young adults with mental health issues.
The action points, according to senior White House officials, were the result of 22 different meetings with 220 various organizations and 31 elected officials since the Newtown shootings.
Notably absent, though, is any proposal to station armed guards in schools, as proposed by the National Rifle Association. And media violence, which NRA president Wayne LaPierre pointed to as a chief cause of the horrific trend of random mass shootings, only receives one action point: a $10 million study by the Center for Disease Control investigating the relationship between gory video games and media images and violence.
Officials with the NRA, who participated in at least one of those meetings, emerged frustrated and unwilling to sign on to the proposed White House initiatives. A new ad released by the NRA accuses Obama of being an “elitist hypocrite” who protects his own children with armed Secret Service agents but looks to restrict access to the same protection for the American people.
White House officials said Wednesday that they considered the meeting with NRA a “constructive discussion, with little relation to the press release they put out afterward” and said they wouldn’t rule out working with the organization in the future.