President Obama signed executive actions to limit guns and prevent future tragedies Wednesday, saying that there are “concrete steps we can take right now … to help reduce mass shootings.”Unfortunately they may have only a marginal effect on preventing another mass shooting.
30-three days after the tragic shooting at a school in Newtown, CT, and after extensive discussion with a variety of pro-gun and gun control groups, the President released a list of 23 executive actions and called on Congress to act further. These include things such as providing law enforcement and first responders with proper training for active shooter situations, giving doctors the ability to ask about guns in the home, and clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid must cover for states.
Here are the big ticket items (and their problems):
Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
This is the “universal background check.” If you go to a licensed firearms dealer and purchase a weapon, you have to wait for clearance from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), but for a private sale, you could transfer without checking.
This is actually a reasonable idea that most Americans support. The problem is that many mass shooters purchased their weapons legally (or got them from someone who had). The Virginia Tech shooter purchased two pistols legally. The shooter at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin also purchased a pistol legally. The shooter in Newtown took his weapons from his mother, who also purchased them legally.
President Obama also called for Congress to restore a ban on “military-style assault weapons.”
While this sounds like a good enough idea — the idea of an “assault rifle” is something that most Americans fear — it is a solution with a huge hole: A shooter can cause a huge amount of damage no matter what type of weapon they use.
In fact, Mother Jones has compiled a list of mass shootings from 1982-2012. Looking at the data yields a variety of results. Some shooters used a shotgun, others used assault weapons, and many others used handguns.
He also proposed a 10-round limit on magazines.
Right now, there is a huge number of magazines that carry over 10 rounds already in circulation, which will most likely be “grandfathered in,” as they were under the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. While a ban on further sale certainly seems like a good idea, it will more than likely affect law-abiding citizens while promoting a black market for criminals.
Magazine restrictions may make it tougher, but the rarity of the mass shooting will continue. With proper training (such as a few hours of practicing quick magazine changes), someone can reload a perfectly legal pistol with a perfectly legal magazine in less than a second.
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