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Obama proposes firearm background check changes

By Julie Pace

AP White House Correspondent

LAST UPDATED: 10:45 a.m. HST, Jan 03, 2014

The Obama administration today announced a pair of executive actions aimed at strengthening federal background checks for gun purchasers, with a particular focus on limiting firearm access for those with mental health issues.

One proposed rule change aims to clarify terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons. The administration said states have complained that some wording is ambiguous, making it difficult to determine who should be blocked from buying a weapon.

The change also will help states determine what information may be shared with the federal background check system for firearms transfers. The system has prevented more than 2 million guns from falling into the wrong hands, the Justice Department says.

A second proposed rule change would give hospitals and other entities covered by patient privacy provisions more flexibility in the information they provide to the background check system. However, the administration said the rule change would not require reporting on general mental health care or legally prohibit someone from having a firearm solely because they sought treatment.

The White House announced the proposals while President Barack Obama was vacationing in Hawaii.

Obama put forward sweeping gun control measures last year following the horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But the toughest proposals, including stricter background checks, fell flat on Capitol Hill, forcing the White House to rely on piecemeal measures that can be implemented without congressional approval.

Several perpetrators of the nation's worst mass shootings have had mental health issues, including Newtown shooter Adam Lanza. However, they acquired their guns in different ways, with Lanza using firearms purchased by his mother when he went on a rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary.

In announcing the proposed rule changes, the White House also called on Congress to again tackle gun control issues this year. However, there's little indication that lawmakers plan to take up the issue.

"Today, we are taking steps to further strengthen the federal background check system. It's time Congress joins us in this effort," Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter. Biden has headed up the White House's anti-gun violence efforts following the Newtown shooting.

Today's rule changes were proposed by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. The agencies must accept and analyze public comments before issuing final rules.

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eoe wrote:
OMG, Obama wants to take our guns! We have to fight this to make sure our mentally ill brothers and sisters can exercise their constitutionally protected right to stockpile assault rifles, shotguns and pistols with large capacity magazines. After all, crazy people like hunting and target shooting too!
on January 3,2014 | 10:11AM
lee1957 wrote:
So you are saying you have mental health issues?
on January 3,2014 | 10:37AM
eoe wrote:
I am basically saying the entire right wing has mental issues.
on January 3,2014 | 11:03AM
false wrote:
The system already I think disallows most if not all people who have issues (including Mental Health) to purchasing firearms. The loophole is that some are ok, then they develop issues (including Mental Health) AFTER they have had the firearms for awhile. Unfortunately, Mental Health is not a smoking gun, unless one sees someone outwardly acting weird, Mental Health is hidden. Patty Duke has Manic-Depressive bipolar disorder. So even the most famous sometimes have Mental Health issues. Do we have any famous person we know, that needs Psychiatric Evaluation? Really though, with our society having this go, go, go, go "mentality", with Twitter and Facebook, some on twitter can be considered "on the fringe". Then again, those crazies at Football games, after a few, can be considered "on the fringe". Who will read all of this? Some, or maybe no one. Good luck, Mr. President, we all support you from The Great State of Hawaii, the baby of our Nation. Will we EVER have another President originating from Hawaii. The likelihood of that happening is the same as Norm Chow going 10-3 this coming football season. Good Luck sir.
on January 3,2014 | 11:05AM
pcman wrote:
IRT lee. They are saying you cannot buy guns for mental health reasons. Who would do that? Poorly written article, huh? UP, there goes the price of guns and ammo again.
on January 3,2014 | 11:10AM
Mythman wrote:
This piece is oozing with bias, the writer is soothing the anxiety of those who believe the government is not doing enough to keep them safe from guns. The assumption is one sided, which is what bias is. Hawaii is comparatively safe - you can go outside and walk around without being the victim of an armed robber or a crazed gunman, mostly. On mainland, you can get shot and stabbed with far greater frequency. So it's that we are already relatively safe from violence that predisposes us to support gun laws.
on January 3,2014 | 10:33AM
Manoa_Fisherman wrote:
Sounds like the proposal from Obama contradicts the Federal HIPAA statute on patient privacy. Hospitals will be quick to take this "executive order" to court to get it thrown out.
on January 3,2014 | 10:35AM
false wrote:
"In announcing the proposed rule changes, the White House also called on Congress to again tackle gun control issues this year. However, there's little indication that lawmakers plan to take up the issue." Wish lawmakers ignored Obama when Obama proposed ObamaCare. By the way, Obama does not rhyme with Alabama. Otherwise it would be Ohh baaa (as in sheep) ma.
on January 3,2014 | 10:54AM
serious wrote:
This issue is DOA. I don't see why this is even in the news!
on January 3,2014 | 12:24PM
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