Obama acts to strengthen gun background check system

WASHINGTON Fri Apr 19, 2013 12:11pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) arrives with Vice President Joe Biden to deliver a statement on commonsense measures to reduce gun violence, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) arrives with Vice President Joe Biden to deliver a statement on commonsense measures to reduce gun violence, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington April 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, moving swiftly after the Senate rejected a measure to expand background checks for gun buyers, acted on Friday to patch holes in the existing database dealers use to ensure they are not selling weapons to criminals or the mentally ill.

The Health and Human Services Department will issue a formal proposal on Friday to make sure one of its privacy laws does not prevent states from reporting information to the background check system.

"While this background check system is the most efficient and effective way to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals, it is only as effective as the information that is available to it," an administration official said.

Obama was visibly frustrated after the Senate on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have expanded background checks for guns bought at gun shows and on the Internet.

"Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities," Obama said on Wednesday.

"We're going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background check system," he said. The idea was part of a series of executive actions Obama first announced in January.

Health and Human Services will ask for public comment on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's privacy rule prevents some state agencies from reporting data to the background check system, and how best to remove those barriers.

The rule allows hospitals and agencies to disclose data when it is required by law, but some states did not have explicit laws requiring state agencies to share data from mental health records, said a report last year by the Government Accountability Office, a federal government watchdog.

The GAO found that 17 states had provided very few records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The privacy rule was one issue, but technology problems and limited staff resources were also identified as barriers.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (58)
tomdenver wrote:
Technology issues abound, that’s true. And limited staff resources may translate to qualified staff resources. I’d like to see that patched as long as there is sufficient oversight for implementations. nfortunately too many consultants know how to turn a one year project into three. Until that is solved it’s money down the rat hole

Apr 19, 2013 12:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
kkong164 wrote:
“Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities”

Translation: I will continue violate the Constitution at every opportunity.

Apr 19, 2013 12:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JL4 wrote:
@kkong164, if our President exercises Executive privilege, he is doing no more and no less than any other President has done, or will do in the future.

Exercising Executive Privilege is NOT violating the Constitution, although you would very much like for it to be to support your own paranoia. Take a pill, then get an education.

This is going to be interesting. Wonder how many people who want to buy *more* guns are going to be denied because they qualify as mentally ill. From what I see across these Reuters boards, I can name a few right off the top of my head. How will they argue their 2nd Amendment rights are being violated? But wait, like flashrooster says, that’s NO BIG DEAL – no hill for a criminal stepper, you know?

They can go to a gun show and buy a weapon – any weapon – from an unlicensed dealer and get all the guns they can afford! Illegal immigrants can buy them too. Non-American citizens can buy them, like the two most famous “non-citizens” today, in this country legally, our Boston terrorists. Ain’t America grand?

Apr 19, 2013 1:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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