News in Brief: President’s plan to reduce gun violence revealed

Yesterday, the White House issued President Obama’s plan to minimizing gun violence in the nation.

Titled “Now Is the Time: The President’s Plan to Protect our Children and our Communities by Reducing Gun Violence,” the plan lists four “common-sense” steps: Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands; banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence; making schools safer and increasing access to mental health services.

The plan’s first step would require criminal background checks for all gun sales, and a call on private sellers and licensed dealers to run background checks on buyers. Additionally, the background check system would be strengthened to allow it to have reliable data on prohibited users.

The plan’s second step would eliminate military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines by strengthening the ban on such weapons, limiting magazines to 10 rounds and getting armor-piercing bullets off the streets.

The step also calls for the passing of stronger laws that would stop those from giving guns to criminals, keeping 15,000 police officers on the streets and eliminating restrictions that prevent law enforcers from doing their jobs. It would also designate a director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, allow information on lost or stolen guns made available to law enforcement and provide training for active-shooter situations.

In addition, the prohibition on gun violence research would be lifted and the development of gun-safety technology will continue to be encouraged. Health care providers would also report any threats of violence and be able to ask their patients about proper storage of firearms if a patient exhibits a mental illness, has young children or has a family member who is mentally ill. There are plans to launch a national campaign on gun ownership as well.

To make schools safer, the President wants 1,000 more school resource officers and counselors, as well as investment in school safety. Each school would also have to have a comprehensive emergency management plan.

The fourth step would make improvements to mental health services by ensuring that students and young adults receive treatment for such issues, provide “Mental Health First Aid” training to teachers and help schools address pervasive violence.

The plan would also train 5,000 more mental health professionals and increase the understanding of mental health. The Affordable Care Act will extend coverage to 30 million more Americans, including 6 to 10 million people with mental illness. Furthermore, the act will ensure that insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

More details can be found at whitehouse.gov/now-is-the-time.

— Claire Tan

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