Many of the recommendations are reasonable, and in fact are in line with conservative principles. Republican leaders who reject the slate completely, rather than reject the overreach, while supporting the common-sense measures, will simply continue their losing streak.
Some of the executive orders announced on Wednesday are troubling, and clearly outside the federal government’s purview. But many make sense, and should find willing support among Republican lawmakers.
One executive order aims to “address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.”
That’s perfectly reasonable. The HIPAA law is an example of legislation with far-reaching unintended consequences. Its privacy provisions severely limit what data health care professionals can release, even to law enforcement officers. Some states now ban birthday parties in nursing homes, for fear of violating HIPAA provisions.
Several of the measures Obama announced deal with mental health — and they also make sense.
The school shooters dating back to Brenda Ann Spenser in the 1979 San Diego spree have all displayed clear signs of mental illness. The left has long supported deinstitutionalization and removing the “stigma” of mental illness; but those efforts have veered into overcompensation, and it’s harder to identify and deal with those who may be dangerous.
It’s also worth the relatively minimal sum listed by Obama (less than $100 million) to study the causes of gun violence. Do violent video games encourage mass shootings – or is it a case of correlation versus causation? We don’t know. It’s a valid public health question, worthy of study.
Another executive order signed on Wednesday says the feds will “provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officer s.”
That’s exactly what the NRA and other pro-Second Amendment groups have called for. As the White House explains, those “resource officers” will be armed and trained for such emergencies.
Obama’s call for congressional action is a similarly mixed bag. A ban on “assault weapons” would be mostly about cosmetics, not firepower.
As for background checks on private gun sales (the so-called “gun show loophole”), we’ll have to wait to hear about how that would work, exactly. Right now, there’s no mechanism for private sellers to run checks on their next-door neighbors.
The point here is that if Republicans want to be taken seriously, they have to take the president’s proposals seriously. Knee-jerk reactions aren’t enough. Those are what put them out of power in the first place.