The Obama administration, plagued by Congress' failure to act on any of the gun control legislation the White House has been advocating over the past year, proposed two executive orders Friday to help tighten up the nation's gun laws. Both initiatives are aimed at preventing guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill and helping states send information about those individuals to the federal government.
"The Department of Justice is proposing a regulation to clarify who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law for reasons related to mental health, and the Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a proposed regulation to address barriers preventing states from submitting limited information on those persons to the federal background check system," a White House release said.
The proposals fall far short of the steps President Barack Obama and other gun control advocates have been pushing for in the wake of a spate of mass shootings over the past year, including the Newtown massacre in December 2012 that killed 20 first-graders. Obama asked Congress to vote on a universal background check measure that would close the so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to circumvent the purchasing restrictions in place in stores.
Gun control advocates, who have been disappointed with the lack of legislative action following the shootings, praised the move but cautioned more steps should be taken to prevent more violence.
"There is still much work ahead to make sure guns are not accessible to people who are at a high risk of violence, and we call, not only on the administration and Congress, but also on state legislatures and governors, to pursue evidence-based policy changes to help stop gun violence," Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, said in a release.
Groups opposing additional gun control measures have successfully lobbied lawmakers against taking action on their own, arguing that few if any of the proposals would have prevented the violence.