President Barack Obama made a commitment to do all he could to combat gun violence in the wake of December’s mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., but a number of his top initiatives are facing hurdles, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
In January, the president nominated B. Todd Jones to be the permanent head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, but the hearing to confirm Jones’ nomination has yet to be scheduled. Jones is currently acting director, but the agency has lacked a permanent director since 2006.
Meanwhile, the president earmarked $10 million in the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. Lawmakers have yet to approve it.
And the administration’s biggest setback to date has been the Senate’s rejection this month of proposals to expand the background check system purchases.
Though the administration says many of Obama’s 23 executive orders to help stem gun violence will have an effect, even they acknowledge that their influence will be more modest than congressional legislation. Many of his initiatives simply focus on improving the effectiveness of existing laws and regulations, according to the Journal.
The Justice Department, for example, is soliciting applications from states and outside groups for grants aimed at encouraging states to add more data, thereby making their background check databases more robust. And the Department of Health and Human Services has been encouraged to find ways to support the initiative by ensuring the federal health-privacy law doesn’t prevent states from feeding mental-health records into the background-check system.
Gun-rights advocates have expressed little opposition to the president’s proposals, believing the initiatives won’t make much of a difference.
“Some of them basically don’t do anything. ... Many of them are nothing-burgers,” said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America. “Most are not harmful.”
Rep. Jackie Speier, a gun-control advocate, says the lack of opposition by gun-rights advocates is a sign the president is not doing enough. The California Democrat is encouraging colleagues to sign a letter to the White House that would encourage the president to issue an executive order banning the importation of certain assault weapons, as former President George H.W. Bush did in 1989.
Still, the administration may be encouraged by the efforts of lawmakers in the Senate who are working on a new round of bipartisan gun-control measures, after the bill to expand the background checks was voted down in the Senate earlier this month.
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