Op-ed: The first 100 days in any new U.S. presidency is telling. The world looks on and decides what may follow based on those first 100 days. It also sees what is the new President's priorities.
Donald Trump dived head first into his presidency January 20, 2017, and has acted like a man possessed.
The latest, there are so many bad news stories to chose from, relates to gun laws.
President Obama tried many times to tighten gun laws but Republicans watered down his policies.
Following the Sandy Hook school massacre Obama was finally able to tighten gun laws in relation to background checks to weed out mental ill people but it took time to enact.
Thursday this was overturned.
"Washington (CNN) The Republican-led House voted Thursday to repeal an Obama-era regulation that required the Social Security Administration to disclose to the national gun background check system information about people with mental illness. The regulation instituted in the final days of the Obama administration required the SSA to share information about those who are considered incapable of managing their own disability benefits due mental illness."
It took Obama time to pass the legislation and with sleight of hand it is removed.
Payback from Pres. Trump to the powerful NRA gun lobby.
It highlights his executive order limiting who can enter the USA had nothing to do with safety.
More people die in the USA from guns than terrorism.
"Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.Source: Mass Shooting Tracker
And that is just mass shooting numbers!"
The following was our report in early 2014 as Obama tried to bring in some gun controls.
President Obama announces gun restrictions for the mentally ill
January 1, 2014
Since December 2012, when 26 people, including children, were massacred at a US school, Sandy Hook Elementary, President Obama has been under pressure to tighten lax gun laws. Initially there was a wave of support for any new gun measures but the children and adults killed at Newtown were hardly cold in their graves before people forgot. Instead of wanting change too many began to make excuses.
At the forefront of the fight to maintain the gun status quo was the US gun lobby, GOP led Congress and the NRA, national rifle association. They were more interested in money and protecting themselves against some vague, unknown threat.
Throughout 2013 the two sides pulled this way and that and finally January 3, 2014 US President Obama has announced change, or at least a watered down version of change, as more extensive background checks of potential gun owners gets underway.
You may say it is a start but is it enough or is it too little and too late?
Gun deaths continued to spiral out of control during 2013 in the US but there still seemed little real will for change. Of course those who have lost loved ones in senseless gun crimes view the matter differently.
President Barack Obama's administration Friday announced measures aimed at limiting access to firearms for the mentally ill. As the BBC report continues, “The changes clarify ambiguous regulations and allow hospitals to provide more information for background checks, officials said. The actions come more than one year after the Newtown school shooting, which sparked a national gun debate.
Passing common-sense gun safety legislation - including expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime - remains the most important step we can take to reduce gun violence”
The White House statement was released late Friday and said the “two new actions "will help strengthen the federal background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands".
The announcement however leaves this writer baffled. One question springs to mind – when is a person sane and when is he or she not?
Mental illnesses of some form or another, affects a large percentage of the population. Some people have long standing mental health issues but others just snap under pressure. Whilst the new measures will go some way to minimize gun crime in the US they hardly touch on the crux of the matter, which are too many guns in circulation.
However it is worth mentioning that currently in the US there are many thousands of mentally ill people known to the system who can purchase weapons. The information regarding their mental health does not necessarily get to the gun sellers. Obama's announcement Friday will tighten that loophole and satisfy some, at least for now.
Obviously US politicians know that defining a person with mental illness will not be easy, nor will preventing gun purchases:
“The first proposed regulation, from the Department of Justice, aims to clarify who is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health. That change includes clarifying the term "committed to a mental institution" to include involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments, the White House said. The second proposed action, brought by the Department of Health and Human Services, lifts certain privacy provisions preventing states from forwarding relevant information to the background check system.”
And after all the fancy words this “The change could give medical entities covered by federal health privacy law permission to disclose "limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands", the White House said. “The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm," the White House said.”
To give President Obama his due, he tried implementing a raft of measures to tighten gun control following the Sandy Hook massacre but the republican led Congress kicked them all into touch. Their aim it seems is to undermine the President, pay lip service to those who fund them and not serve the people.
As most people now accept, if the murder of 20 children and six staff in a school could not convince Congress gun laws needed changing what will?
"Passing common-sense gun safety legislation - including expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime - remains the most important step we can take to reduce gun violence," the White House statement concluded.
Opinion: Singling out the mentally ill could lead to a witch-hunt, may offer some protection but ultimately will not prevent further deaths in the USA. It could obviously prevent further gun deaths where the perpetrator is known to have mental illness but I am tempted, after more than one year, to conclude “Big Deal”.
Didn't Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, use his mother's weapons?