President Obama’s Gun Control Proposals – A Summary
In light of recent events at Newton, Aurora, Oak Creek and Tucson, our nation is
grappling with discussing preventative issues around gun control and mental health
care in our homes, schools and communities. The tragic loss of twenty-seven people
at Sandy Hook Elementary School, including twenty children, was a wake-up call for
the majority of Americans. There has not been an event this tragic in an American
school since the 1999 Columbine shootings. In response to this trauma, President
Obama has proposed a 4-step plan that aims to re-vamp the way society and the
government deal not only with gun control, but also with eliminating the stigma
surrounding mental illness.
The first important step that President Obama supports, is increasing the security
process the Federal government enforces in order for citizens to attain a gun.
The Administration plans to close background check loopholes that often get
overlooked, to keep guns out of dangerous hands. By strengthening the background
check system, reliable data on prohibited purchasers is available.
Secondly, the Administration plans to place a ban on military-style assault weapons
and high-capacity magazines. A 2010 survey by the Police Executive Research
Forum found that more than one-third of police departments reported an increase
in criminals’ use of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. This ban includes
limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds and getting armor-piercing bullets off
the streets. Furthermore, in order to prevent and respond to gun violence, the plan
looks to create serious punishments for gun trafficking, proposing to keep 15,000
police officers on the street in cities across the country. Lastly, this ban will end the
freeze on gun violence research by issuing a memorandum that will allow the Center
for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun
violence, including links between video games, media images and violence.
Furthermore, we need to make our schools safer, not only by enhancing their
physical security and making sure they are prepared to respond to emergencies like
a mass shooting. Therefore, President Obama’s third initiative plans on working
towards making schools safer, by putting up to 1,000 more school resource
officers and counselors in schools to help invest in safety. In the unthinkable
event of another school shooting, it is essential to ensure that every school has a
comprehensive emergency management plan.
Lastly, the Administration’s plan to increase funding for government supported
mental health programs is aiming to help eventually end the negative stigma that is
attached to mental illness. The program plans to reach about 750,000 youth through
a program called AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education). It will
target six specific steps to help reach people who are affected by mental health
issues and provide the most adequate care and education for youth and teachers.
Project AWARE includes $15 million to support training for teachers and other
community adults to help them detect and respond to young adults and children
who suffer from mental illness. Secondly, AWARE will put $40 million towards
making sure that students who show signs of mental illness get the treatment they
need. This initiative builds on strategies that, for over a decade, have proven to
decrease violence in schools and increase the number of students receiving mental
The project also proposes $25 million to help support individuals, ages 16 to
25 – who are at the highest risk for substance abuse, mental illness, and suicide.
AWARE will help schools address services for trauma or anxiety, conflict resolution
programs, and other school-based violence prevention strategies. This is critical
because three-quarters of all mental illness symptoms appear by the age of 24, and
twenty-two percent of 14 to 17 year olds have witnessed a shooting in their lifetime.
The fifth step plans to train mental health professionals in order to serve students
and youth, This program is proposing the utilization of $50 million to train social
workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals, resulting
in the availability to train more than 5,000 mental health professionals – to better
provide community based health care services.
In addition to improving mental care services, the President plans to launch a
national conversation to increase the general understanding of mental health, while
simultaneously working to end the negative stigma attached with people who are
mentally ill. As we know, mental illness does not discriminate and affects a wide
variety of populations; wealthy and poor, members of faith, school and business
leaders, and foundations. By opening the door to talking more openly about mental
illness, AWARE will encourage more people who suffer from mental illness to seek
the help they deserve.
Lastly, the Administration’s plan includes proposing The Affordable Care Act along
with the AWARE program. These two policies share the similar goal to expand
healthcare and broaden the spectrum of Americans who receive necessary medical
treatments. The Affordable Care Act will provide health coverage to 30 million
Americans, which will affect an estimated 6 to 10 million people with mental illness.
The Affordable Care Act will extend Medicaid coverage to as many as 17 million
Americans. The administration for the AWARE program will be issuing a letter to
state health officials to make it clear that these expansion plans for Medicaid must
comply with mental health requirements.
It’s time for a meaningful, nationwide conversation about mental health. That’s the
only way our nation can ever truly heal from all of this. Our society, with its stigma
on mental illness and its broken health care system, does not provide many families
who deal with mental illness many other options.
According to Human Rights Watch, the number of mentally ill inmates in U.S.
prisons quadrupled from 2000 to 2006, and it continues to rise – in fact, the rate of
inmate mental illness is five times greater (56 percent) than in the non-incarcerated
With state-run treatment centers and hospitals slammed, prison seems like the last
resort for the mentally ill. So, until our nation decides to discuss realistic solutions
for decreasing the negative effects of ignoring mental illness, and have a real talk
about guns – another unfortunate incident could occur on our Administration’s
Get involved, stay informed, keep the conversation going and never lose your
You can read the President’s proposal and fact sheet and executive documents, here:
- Executive actions: http://apps.
washingtonpost.com/g/ documents/politics/white- house-gun-violence-reduction- executive-actions/248/
- Executive summary: http://apps.
washingtonpost.com/g/ documents/politics/gun- violence-executive-summary/ 245/
- Fact Sheet: http://apps.
washingtonpost.com/g/ documents/politics/gun- violence-fact-sheet/247/
Contact your local Congressman/woman here: http://www.house.gov/
Jonny and team HFTD