SALT LAKE CITY — President Barack Obama's gun plan, unveiled Wednesday, faces a tough road in Congress, with many of the proposals likely to be rejected by the Republican-majority House of Representatives.
Some gun advocates have shrugged off the 23 actions, which reads more like a priority list than a list of orders. And that is the important distinction between executive actions and executive orders: an executive action is a vague term referring to anything done by the executive, while an executive order is a way for the president to direct government officials and agencies.
Pres. Obama did issue three presidential memoranda on Wednesday, which are similar to executive orders but only go into effect based on whether the president determines they have "general applicability and legal effect."
The three presidential memoranda issued Wednesday are:
- Require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
- Require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Direct the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
It is the memoranda that are likely to have the most impact on the average American, although changes will not come overnight:
- Research into the causes and prevention of gun violence could change the gun conversation in America. Pres. Obama's memoranda lifted what has effectively been a 17-year ban on research into the effects of gun violence.
The White house lists two types of research to be focused on: the causes and prevention of gun violence, and how and when firearms are used in violent death.
Just because the CDC now has the freedom to do the research doesn't mean it will happen any time soon, though; Congress would still need to provide funding. It's long term, but depending on the findings, it could be a game changer.
- An increased focus on background checks may see state and local governments making more of an effort to either perform background checks voluntarily or gather data for government databases.
In Utah, background checks are not required to be performed by private sellers. Sellers are only required to make sure the purchaser is of legal age, lives in the state and isn't planning on using the weapon to commit a crime. Although it could be a long way off, stricter gun control laws may affect how Utahns buy and sell guns.
- The actions, too, could have an effect in the long term. Three of Pres. Obama's executive actions directly relate to education. The president wants to "provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations."
Under Pres. Obama's plan, incentives would be provided for schools to hire school resource officers, and emergency response plans would be modeled for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
Implementing the above measures could mean an increase in the education budget on either a state or national level, which would traditionally mean budget cuts elsewhere or taxes increases — provided a new source of funding is not found.
- Four of the executive actions relate directly to mental health, and seeing the plans come to fruition could mean if you or someone you know requires mental health services, you may see legislation passed aimed at making them more widely available.
The president plans to "release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover."
Other actions would finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within Affordable Care Act exchanges and finalize mental health parity regulations. Last, a national dialogue on mental health would be launched.