President Barack Obama announced executive actions to take steps toward gun reform, and on the controversial subject of gun control in America. Many people are rejoicing, many are outraged — but the point of it all is that the actions so far aren’t enforceable.
“On Tuesday, I announced new steps I am taking within my legal authority to protect the American people and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people,” Obama wrote in a New York Times Op-ed on Jan. 7.
As part of these guidelines, the Administration announced several things: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tightening its requirement of licenses and background checks as well as finalizing a rule to require background checks on people trying to buy dangerous weapons. The Attorney General also has sent a letter to States about the “importance” of reporting mental health and domestic violence records, as well as other criminal activity.
The Administration is also trying to increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check systems, as well as proposing a $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care. The Department of Health is finalizing a rule to “remove unnecessary legal barrier preventing states from reporting relevant information,” about people potentially prohibited from owning a firearm for mental health reasons.
The White House fact sheet stated “Because we all must do our part to keep our communities safe, the Administration is also calling on States and local governments to do all they can to keep guns out of the wrong hands and reduce gun violence,” according to the WH website.
The White House also released on Jan. 4 a presidential memorandum promoting the research and development of smart-gun technology. This would include the use of fingerprint sensors and other smart technology in firearms.
According to an NPR article published on Jan. 8, some law abiding firearm owners are wary that the development of this new technology would become mandated once fully manufactured, especially after the 2002 New Jersey “Childproof Handgun Law,” where once available, they’ll require all handguns sold in NJ to be smart guns in 30 months.
But there has been much pushback from many states in terms of gun reform, including Florida, where an open carry law is currently in the process of review in Tallahassee.
In the state of Florida, people 21 years and older can obtain a concealed weapons license and carry a firearm on them as long as it’s hidden from sight, except in government buildings and bars. The bill, HB-163, is now in the judiciary committee.
“I have kind of mixed emotions,” said Doug Torpy, the co-owner of Frogbones, a popular gun range located on US-1. “On the subject of open carry, I’m fearful of what people will do to just kind of show off an open carry. I also think that open carry can make you a target, where concealed carry no one knows who has a gun.”
Torpy’s employees already open carry in his business because of safety.
“We open carry in here because it’s a show of force that somebody can react if somebody were to try to rob us in an armed robbery situation,” Torpy said.
In Florida, hunters and fishers can already open carry when going to and from their fishing trips, according to the law, Torpy said.
Florida Tech graduate student David Reger said guns have always had an effect on his life.
“Both of my parents were police officers so I grew up around guns,” Reger said. “I try to go target shooting at least twice a month because I carry a handgun for self defense.”
And people also have strong opinions about the controversy taking shape on gun reform, especially after Obama’s recent outspoken efforts toward more thorough background checks.
“No new laws have been implemented, no new requirements have force of law, the most controversial ones will be challenged in courts as exceeding the lawful meaning,” said Matthew Groom, Florida Tech security guard. “This is a series of clarifications of existing rules and procedures more than it is a sea change of how enforcement will be conducted.”
Despite the controversy of the president’s recent efforts and articles suggesting these new actions the ATF is taking might not change anything, they actually aren’t executive orders, and “none of what he writes changes laws or moves money around,” according to Glenn Kessel, a political reporter from the Washington Post.
The fact sheet states at the bottom: “Congress should support the President’s request for resources for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws, as well as a new $500 million investment to address mental health issues.”
The memorandum states that a strategy should be laid out within 90 days for research on smart-gun technology, and it will be up to other entities to help in his gun reform efforts.