President Obama Uses Executive Actions on Background Checks for Gun Purchases

pres-obama1I can just see people reading this headline and jumping to conclusions about, “Dictator Obama violating the Constitution to attack the gun rights of Americans!”  Particularly conservatives who very rarely know the facts about anything related to the president, instead relying on misinformation, lies and fear mongering from the right-wing media.

Any time they see “Obama,” “Executive Action/Order,” “Guns” or any combination they instantly fly off the handle, making complete fools of themselves.  And while I haven’t gone to check out the right-wing sites just yet, I’m sure their reaction and spin of this news is completely ridiculous.

So I figured I’d explain exactly what President Obama’s recent executive actions are and why they’re smart, but really not that big of a deal.  Just “common sense” —  you know, something conservatives don’t often use.

What these executive actions seek to do is reduce the likelihood of those with mental illnesses being able to obtain firearms.

The first one handles a complaint many states have talked about concerning the wording of federal regulations that prohibit people from purchasing firearms for mental health reasons.  States have argued that the wording wasn’t specific enough on who should and shouldn’t be prevented from purchasing some kind of firearm.

The second executive action deals with entities covered by patient privacy provisions, concerning the kind of information they can report.  Though it was made clear that this change does not require the reporting of general mental health nor prevent people seeking treatment from purchasing or owning a firearm.

What both of these actions seem to do is help states better determine who should and shouldn’t be denied access to purchasing a gun, while opening the doors for specific mental health entities to report more serious mental health conditions which might be a cause for concern for any individual who might be seeking to purchase a gun.

These aren’t groundbreaking moves made here by President Obama, but both moves apply basic common sense in hopes of preventing the very real problem of mentally ill individuals who have no business purchasing or owning firearms from doing so.

I’m sure this move will cause some on the left to say it isn’t enough and some on the right to say it’s just more proof that President Obama’s ultimate goal is putting an end to our Second Amendment rights.

But while these moves aren’t huge, I felt a need to report on them in hopes of offering a simple clarification on exactly what they mean, because I’m almost certain there are some on the right who are having a field day making this story into something that it’s clearly not.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

Comments

Facebook comments

  • Jim Bean

    Meanwhile, the Detroit Police Chief issues an appeal for more armed citizens to help deter crime, per a great article appearing in the Detroit News. John Craig served in California where it took an act of god to get a concealed carry permit and also in Maine where CCP’s were quite easy to obtain. He’s witnessed both strategies and knows which one works and which one doesn’t.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      hey jimbo————- your one sided crybaby FOX “news” stupidity is shining again

    • Raylusk

      I thought you conservatives claim Detroit is a failed liberal city. Why would you listen to anything from an employee of that failed liberal city.

      • Jim Bean

        “Claim?” It IS a failed city. It is the poster child for the final results of Left-wing leadership. Conservatives will support anyone trying to restore common sense to the process.

  • Stephen Barlow

    CLarification and tyranny are 2 different things. The REDS should know the difference considering the minisculity, inanity and picayunity with which they are attacking the PPACA.

    Have you noticed how ever so slowly the Cruzites are beginning to claim ownership of some of the bill?

  • JJ5306

    Thank you, Mr. President for putting us over the stupidity of the RWNJs. We really appreciate your strength and common sense since they do NOT have either.

    • Jim Bean

      And the lies, too Mr. President. Thank you for knowing we’re too stupid to handle the truth. And for using your powers and giving yourself new ones so we don’t have those danged Congress people messing things up with their stupid input. Thank you for that too, dear leader. We are forever in your debt. (Say . . . . that last line is actually factual, isn’t it? he he)

      • TheGermanGuy

        Thank you, also, Mr. President, for giving more power to the STATES. These Executive Orders didn’t give the Federal Government any power at all – all it did was allow the STATES to make their own decisions on who can and cannot purchase a gun. I thought States’ Rights was the main platform of the Conservative ideology?

      • Jim Bean

        Please don’t take offense, but I am going to correct you. “States Rights” (Tenth Amendment) accedes to the states, any authority not already reserved to the Federal Government. The Second Amendment specifically reserves all authority on the issue of gun ownership to the Federal Government.

      • TheGermanGuy

        In that particular case, you are correct. However, if you read the article, you should have seen where it says, “What both of these actions seem to do is help states better determine
        who should and shouldn’t be denied access to purchasing a gun….” Again, these orders aren’t giving the Federal Government any power whatsoever. Besides, if your statement was entirely true, then why are the CCP regulations different in each state in the first place?

      • Jim Bean

        Good points all. The states involvement are the result of multiple bastardizations of the basic Federal Law. But if you put all the bias aside and look at the history of it, unemotionally and objectively, its really pretty simple. The founding fathers (colonists) were British citizens who, using their personal weapons and weapons acquired surreptitiously from Britain’s enemies, overthrew their own government because they’d grown dissatisfied with it. When they wrote the charter for their new society, they included the second amendment to make damned sure no future political authorities would have the power to deny them the tools necessary to do the same thing again, should the need arise. Jefferson would have said you have the right to own a nuclear bomb because you ARE the Federal Government and elected officials are simply your employees.

      • TheGermanGuy

        I don’t see how that applies to today, though. I understand the history of all of that – after all, I am a licensed Secondary Social Studies teacher – so I don’t need to hear that “lecture” again. The point isn’t that Obama is using these orders to take away any guns – that is NEVER mentioned in either order. The point is that he’s doing something to prevent mentally unstable people from getting guns in the first place. Again, isn’t that the entire basis of the Conservative stance on gun control? “Guns don’t kill people, mentally handicapped people kill other people using guns.” According to that sentiment, along with the States’ Rights piece, these two orders should be welcomed with open arms by Conservatives, because they reflect what Conservatives have been saying for the past year.

  • sherry06053

    Too bad you can’t regulate stupidity. There are more gun owners out there that are stupid than there are ones that are mentally ill.

  • Gabriel Gentile

    Isn’t it funny how conservatives are absolutely convinced that background checks won’t reduce gun violence in the least but outlawing abortion, pot and/or sodomy will eliminate the problem entirely?

    • Jim Bean

      Conservatives said laws outlawing sodomy will eliminate gun violence? Are you making stuff up, Gabriel?

      • Gabriel Gentile

        It certainly won’t make their reading comprehension any better.

      • moe/larry & curly keys

        hey jimbo———–U really should just shut up: your one sided crybaby shit is so old

    • Charles Vincent

      You are ignorant. New strict laws including background checks didn’t stop that liberal kid at the Arapahoe High school from getting a gun and making molotove cocktails and shooting a fellow student in the head before shooting himself because he knew an armed person was coming to confront him.
      http://www DOT denverpost DOT com/news/ci_24721367/arapahoe-high-gunman-held-strong-political-beliefs-classmates

      http://gunsforliberties DOT com/denver-post-editor-defends-scrubbing-socialist-from-arapahoe-shooters-profile/

      http://www DOT thenewamerican DOT com/usnews/crime/item/17208-colorado-school-shooting-fails-to-generate-media-buzz

      • Gabriel Gentile

        Yet, somehow outlawing abortion, sodomy and/or pot will completely eliminate these diabolical scourges from our society?

        You know, the POINT of my original post?

      • Charles Vincent

        I dont have a problem with drugs or abortion. Clear enough for you?

      • Gabriel Gentile

        Then why are you commenting about an observation regarding a double-standard which you do not possess in the first place?

      • Charles Vincent

        My point was more directed at this statement in your OP “conservatives are absolutely convinced that background checks won’t reduce gun violence”
        This was what the links I provided were directed at.
        apologies for the confusion I should have specified as it seemed to me that you were using that to refute the comment of yours i quoted.

  • Alex

    The article doesn’t really explain what the two executive orders did. What is the wording that he changed? What kind of information can be reported regarding mental health and gun safety?

  • Jim Bean

    Well, Allen, you write a lot of articles. Why don’t you just give us in depth accounting of just how hard Obama tries to use the democratic process to get legislation enacted before resorting to the executive order?

    • tmf354

      What’s the difference? Republicans will oppose him no matter what it is. The only thing they know how to do is obstruct. If he came out for oxygen republicans would say breathing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sadly, once Fox starts backing them up, people would believe them too.

      • strayaway

        The difference? One route is constitutional and employs the checks and balances designed into our system of government.

        I note that today, on this forum, a lot of “progressives” are lining up behind government by executive orders and on another thread NSA spying on Americans. It hasn’t always been this way.

      • tmf354

        So, what you’re saying is Reagan issues 381 of them, daddy Bush issues 166, Clinton issues 364, lil’ Bush issues 291, and that’s all just fine. But somehow, the 167 Obama has ordered are unconstitutional? Pretty selective reasoning, don’t you think? You know what? It HAS always been this way. There is only one president who never issued any executive orders, William Henry Harrison. And if hadn’t died one month after being sworn in, I bet he would have issued a couple too. Get your facts straight before shooting off in your comments.

      • strayaway

        No, you are imagining things. The Constitution does not even mention ‘executive orders’ although presidents have leeway administering their offices and as Commander in Chief have some discretion in ordering troops about. Overturning acts of Congress, selectively enforcing part of laws, declaring wars are examples of executive actions that far exceed powers afforded presidents whether Democratic or Republican. That is the level of executive legislation we are discussing here. Why do you find it necessary to defend marginally dictatorial governance instead of the being a supporter of the checks and balances involved when Congress is involved? It seems like just as conservatives wandered from small government to neocon policies, perhaps progressives are turning away from civil liberties to join neocons in supporting imperial rule.

      • tmf354

        So I imagined all those other presidents issued executive orders? That assertion would generously be regarded as delusional. Executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution. But no federal court, and certainly not the Supreme Court, has challenged ANY of Obama’s executive orders. But you think you know the law better than they do? According to Wikipedia, “…executive orders have significant influence over the internal affairs of government, deciding how and to what degree laws will be enforced, dealing with emergencies, waging war…” Please inform us where and when you received your law degree before you (unsuccessfully) try to refute that.

      • strayaway

        Yet another advocate of executive rule. What you missed is that I mentioned administering presidential offices (“executive orders have significant influence over the internal affairs of government, deciding how and to what degree laws will be enforced”) and the role of Commander in Chief (dealing with emergencies, waging war.”) There is a difference between “deciding how and to what degree laws will be enforced” and changing the law and picking and choosing which laws to enforce. Examples have been provided regarded the latter. There is also a difference between “dealing with emergencies and waging wars” and starting undeclared wars (Libya). Kucinich noted that Obama’s attack on Libya and ignoring of the War Powers Act constituted an impeachable offense. It’s a good question why the courts don’t intervene but consider the Court ruled that corporations are people. I just read what the Constitution says which is nothing about executive orders and that only Congress can legislate and declare wars and decided the the emperors don’t have a wonderful set of clothes. I don’t think that some of you “progressives” will be happy until Obama is granted an enabling act for the duration of his emergency.

      • tmf354

        As I said before, you’re delusional. You have absolutely no idea how many laws there are on the books that are not enforced. The last time congress declared war on anybody was in WWII. Are you suggesting every single time we’ve used force against another nation it’s been illegal? That’s nice that you never had a problem with any other president who “illegally” used force, but now you finally have a problem with it. You seem to be very selective in who can do what. John McCain was almost pissing his pants over Obama NOT sending troops into Libya and NOT bombing the shit out of them. Just like he was almost pissing his pants over us NOT arming Syrian rebels to the teeth and getting more involved there. Luckily, we have a president smart enough to diffuse that situation without firing a single shot. You need a refresher course on very recent history, it seems. Let’s also not forget that the two executive orders you’re complaining about have nothing to do with any use of the military, but only clarifying issues in laws already in force. Something law enforcement across the country has been calling for clarification on. You’re against it though. Presumably because of something you know about the law that no federal judge in this country knows (still waiting for where and when you got a law degree).

        But let’s put this in perspective. You don’t have any problem with every single other president besides Harrison issuing executive orders. You don’t have a problem with every president since Roosevelt using force without a declaration of war, But now that Obama is there, you suddenly have a problem. Let’s see now. What is the one thing, the ONLY thing, that’s different about this president than any other? Hmm?

        I’m done with you. You have no legitimate argument. Your mental deficiencies are astounding and not worthy of any more responses. Keep living in your fantasy land if that’s what you want.

      • strayaway

        I’m suggesting that most of the times we employ acts of war (embargoes, bombing, subversion) against other nations it is unconstitutional. Americans have gotten so used to their government’s flippant attacks against other nations that they have become blasé. If Congress weighed in and had to declare war, we would be in fewer wars, and our budget would be in better shape. I would think that “progressives would savor having the extra money to throw at domestic problems. There is another Constitutional remedy though. That is that Congress issue a letter of marque. The initial congressional response to get Osama had an element of being a letter of marque.

        Harding and Coolidge were pretty good about keeping our nose out of other countries business. Eisenhower and Carter were ok too. You incorrectly assume that I supported McCain when, in fact, I think he is more of a war monger than Obama. You are also wrong about Obama not firing a single shot in Libya when, in fact, he bombed that Country even though it had done nothing to us and there was no emergency – both requirements of a president taking emergency actions without time to get approval from Congress.

        Sorry, I don’t know which two laws you are speaking of that I brought up. Proper nouns help sometimes.

        I do have problems with other presidents issuing executive orders when they legislate, change laws, or pick and choose which parts of laws they want to enforce but I already wrote that and you ignored it.

        You use a lot of words to defend borderline dictatorship. I wonder about people who need a strong ruler in their lives. This has happened before and the results can be very dangerous.

    • moe/larry & curly keys

      he has,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, U didn’t read it: too busy crying

    • Raylusk

      Obama has used executive orders less than either Bush. Didn’t see you or other conservatives crying about their use of executive orders.

      • Jim Bean

        From FacCheck . org: It’s true, however, that Obama is employing his executive powers now more than ever before during his presidency.

        Obama has been sidestepping Congress through his “We Can’t Wait” initiative, a series of executive actions that he claims benefit the middle class through infrastructure projects and economic policy changes.

        He also skirted Senate approval in January when he appointed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointments were unprecedented because he made them when the Senate was technically not in recess, prompting legal challenges from conservative groups.

        In June, the president halted deportations of illegal immigrants who entered the United States when they were children and met certain requirements, such as the lack of a criminal record. The change mirrored provisions of the DREAM Act — failed legislation that Obama supported and Senate Republicans blocked in 2010.

        And in July, Obama changed welfare policy to allow states to modify work requirements if they test new approaches to increasing employment. Obama did not submit the policy change to Congress for review, which the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded he should have done.

      • strayaway

        The President also overrode the will of congress to allow Mexican truck drivers to drive Mexican trucks all over this Country. The Teamsters didn’t like that because it took work away from Teamsters and gave it to lower paid foreign nationals.

      • Jim Bean

        Yes, and the list goes on and on beyond the brief examples we’ve listed.

      • Robert Wagner

        And if he was really violating anything the GOTP lead Congress (who are frothing at the mouth for anything to justify it) would have tried to impeach him.

      • Jim Bean

        Can’t. He’s (part) black. His disciples would scream ‘racism’ at a volume that would reverberate around the world. If he were white, he’d be gone. He’d be gone on the “if you like your plan you can keep it” lie alone.

      • Robert Wagner

        BS. And it’s not his fault that policies were cancelled because the insurance companies refused to fix policies that were not in accordance with the new laws. There were companies that did and there were some that refused. Further Obama issued an Executive Order allowing those policies to be reinstated but several Republican Lead States refused to do so. Facts Jim, facts…

      • Jim Bean

        No they are not. That’s a wild spin of the facts. When he said ‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ no one, including you, interpreted that to mean ‘if it is in accordance with the new laws and almost none are.”

      • Robert Wagner

        It’s not spin at all. Everyone in the insurance industry knew they had to have policies that were in compliance with the laws as they were major players in crafting the law. The majority of insurance companies came into compliance and those they insured kept their policies, granted they increased costs but that is something they do annually. And it is also fact that Obama gave them a way to make things right and several Red State Insurance refused. Quite watching FAUX NEWS and reading the GOTP Puppetmaster blogs and do some research on your own and you will learn the facts. And yes, I did know what he meant because I had read what was required of the insurance companies.

      • Jim Bean

        President’s weekly address, June 6, 2009: “If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too. The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold.” (From Politifact . com. not FAUX NEWS.

      • Robert Wagner

        I’m not disputing that he said that what I’m saying is that Obama didn’t cancel anyones policy. It was the choice of the insurance companies. They chose not to bring their policies into compliance with the new laws. Policies have and will continue to change on an annual basis, whether it’s costs or coverages. This is no different than in years past. Companies go out of business, are bought out by others and change things for a wide array of reasons. It a free enterprise and they can pretty much do as they please as long as they do it within the regulations set forth by laws that protect the consumer.

  • Caitlin Ball

    I’m not conservative or a liberal, I’m freaking American, and frankly, I’m getting tired of hearing the two parties bash each other. What’s the relevance of your personal feelings towards them? What’s it got to do with the article?