Weekly Columns

President Obama is Wrong on Gun Control Executive Actions

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Washington, January 6, 2016 | Tiffany Haverly (202-226-8072) | comments

Tuesday morning, President Obama formally announced his plan to unilaterally expand gun control laws. Unsurprisingly, the president has again overstepped the boundaries and power of his office. While we all want fewer senseless acts of violence to occur in our communities, the president is choosing to punish lawful gun owners and restrict their Second Amendment rights rather than address the actual causes of mass murders - such as the need for improved mental health care and the growing threat of terrorism. I am adamantly opposed to these executive actions and will do everything in my power to stop the president from continuing his war on the Constitutional rights of American citizens.

First and foremost, not a single mass shooting committed over the last few years would have been prevented by these actions. The Washington Post’s fact-checker, which was evaluating statements to this effect before the president formally announced his proposal, gave these statements a rare “Geppetto Checkmark,” which is described by the Post as being, “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

As I said in my statement on Tuesday, you can’t fight terrorism and stop mass killings with a pen, and I guarantee you won’t do either by infringing on the rights of the people who already play by the rules. This administration has consistently worked to undermine the Second Amendment, but - as a proud American and concealed carry permit holder - I will work tirelessly to stop this executive overreach.

One of the most concerning parts of the executive orders is the Social Security Administration’s ability to add a person’s name and parts of their personal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) without proper due process. It is estimated that this change could allow the records of approximately 75,000 people each year to be submitted to NICS without any mechanism to appeal until after their names have already been added. While the rule does seem to include mechanism for people to seek relief from the prohibition on possessing a firearm because of mental health reasons, it only gives people this opportunity after they’ve been added to the database.

This is wholly unacceptable, which is why I am a proud cosponsor of H.R. 3126. This legislation was introduced by my colleague Dr. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) and would prohibit the Commissioner of Social Security from furnishing the name of any individual in a report to NICS unless a Federal court has determined the individual should not be allowed to purchase a firearm because of their mental capacity. We can all agree someone who has severe mental problems should not be allowed to have a gun, but in this country we are entitled to due process. No American citizen should be stripped of their rights without their day in court, and I will continue to support commonsense legislation like H.R. 3126.

As a physician and co-chair of the House GOP Doctors Caucus, it’s extremely frustrating to me that the Obama administration halfheartedly included $500 million in the president’s plan to “increase access to mental health care.” I believe truly working on mental health reform – which, to be clear, is not the same thing as throwing money at a problem – would make great strides toward curbing the violence the president discussed on Tuesday. While frustrated, I’m not surprised the president has chosen this route rather than working with Congress to find real solutions to ensure people with mental issues can seek the care they need. This is just another example of the failed leadership of the Obama administration.

Since coming to Congress, I’ve been a proud supporter of the Second Amendment. You can rest assured, especially in light of the president’s executive actions, I am in no way going to infringe on anybody’s Constitutional right to own and bear arms. Similarly, I won’t stand for anyone else infringing on the rights granted to us by the Constitution.

Feel free to contact my office if I can be of assistance. 
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