Gun violence is growing in America. We discuss Obama's gun control plan, the proposed enhanced background checks, and their impact on crime reduction. Vote and share your views!
Obama's gun control proposal
On January 5 2016, President Barack Obama announced his plan to curb gun violence in the US in a emotion-filled speech. His proposal follows a series of high profile killings, such as the San Bernardino shootings in California. In June 2016, the Orlando nightclub mass shooting, where an American-born man who had pledged loyalty to ISIS, killed 50 people has brought back to the public debate the issue of regulation of gun ownership and gun acquisition.
Obama's gun control plans include new enhanced background check requirements, clarification of some existing rules, and additional efforts to tackle unregulated Internet gun sales. However, these new measures have already been heavily criticized by his political competitors and the National Rifle Association. They argue that Obama's plan unnecesarily burdens private sellers, that this plan clashes with the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under the American Constitution, and that Obama wants to "take away our guns". Obama's Administration rejects these accusations and argues than this plan does not imply any major change in gun legislation.
In order to set the ground for this discussion, let's summarize the main measures included in Obama's gun control plan:
- In principle Obama is not proposing substantial modifications to federal gun laws or an executive order. Instead he has directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (AFT) that any person or business that engages in the sale of guns needs to obtain a federal license to do so and conduct background checks.
- This measure will affect not only gun stores but also those who sell guns at gun shows or through the Internet. Failure to comply with the new licensing policy could entail up to five year prison sentences and fines up to $250,000. Failure to conduct background checks will also carry severe penalties.
- Obama's gun control plan requires ATF to request background checks for purchasers of certain dangerous firearms who acquire them through corporations, trusts and other legal entities.
- The ATF Bureau will have to clarify that gun dealers have the responsibility to notify law enforcement if the guns they ship are stolen or lost in transit.
- ATF's newly established Internet Investigation Center will have additional budget and human resources (200 additional agents) to track illegal online guns traficking.
- An additional $4 million will be dedicated to improving the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
- The plan also includes that the FBI hires 230 additional agents to help overhaul the background checks system and make it more efficient and effective.
- Additional $500 million will be invested in improving mental health services. Some legal barriers will be lifted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) to facilitate the flow of information about people prohibited from possessing firearms due to mental health problems.
- Obama's gun control plan also wants to encourage greater communication among local, state and federal authorities, as well as among different states. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) will be updated to facilitate the flow and reliability of criminal history information. Mental health information for the background check issues will also be collected from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Several US Departments (including Defense, Justice and Homeland Security) will fund and conduct research into new gun safety technology. The White House wants to promote technology that helps prevent unauthorized use or accidental discharge of firearms.
What do you think about this plan? Do you find it very controversial? Is it good or bad approach to reduce gun violence in America? What effect will it have in practice on crime? Do you foresee great resistance to the plan? What do you think the next US President should do? Join our discussion on the forum below.
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Obama's gun control measures: good or bad policy?
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