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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Our Issues & Obama’s Gun Control Proposals

NCIL members pose at the CapitolYesterday, President Obama held a press conference to outline his proposals to curb gun violence in America. He announced that he will be bringing these proposals to Congress and issuing 23 executive orders. Some of the measures he referenced could have an impact on the disability community and the issues we care about. This is a brief outline of those measures.

Obama proposes universal background checks for gun owners in order to determine criminal history or diagnosed mental illness. The President also called for improved reporting of criminals and people with mental illness by states to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). While that reporting is already required by law, Obama proposes funding to improve states’ data systems and stronger guidelines on reporting. He also plans to issue a Presidential Memorandum ordering agencies to update data regularly.

We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system.  We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them and develop emergency preparedness plans.  We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence — even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator. 

The President also called for mental health parity and expanded access to mental health services for low-income Americans. He plans to issue a directive to state health programs enforcing parity so that mental illness is treated with the same priority as physical needs.

Obama also called for increased funding for school counseling. He would like Congress to sign off on a comprehensive school safety program, which would provide $150 million for new counselors and social workers in schools.

Also on his wish list for Congress is $50 million for more than 8,000 schools help create an environment safe from bullying through a “school climate survey,” which should collect data on the needs of at-risk students and help alert administrators to any need for professional support in the school. The Administration also plans to issue guidelines on school discipline policies.

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