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President Seeks to Boost FBI, ATF Staff as Part of Executive Action on Guns

January 07, 2016  | 

This week President Obama announced a series of executive actions and proposals involving guns. The measures could spur the hiring of additional personnel at a number of federal agencies, including law enforcement agencies.

The President proposed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would both see additional staff hired to enhance background checks and to enforce gun laws.

The ATF is finalizing rules to require background checks for people that buy guns through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity, as well as ensuring gun dealers notify law enforcement when guns are lost or stolen in transit. ATF is also bolstering resources and staff to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network and has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking.

The Attorney General has sent letters to states, engaged U.S. Attorneys to focus on effective enforcement of gun laws and asked all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to renew domestic violence outreach efforts.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will begin a rulemaking to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is finalizing a rule to remove legal barriers preventing states from reporting information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

The President also directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology, and has directed all departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis.

Congressional reactions to the President’s executive actions were divided on party lines, and appropriators are already warning the Administration that they will not fund elements of the President’s proposal, FedAgent reports.

Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies wrote in a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that his committee expects DOJ “will allocate its resources to the enforcement of existing Federal law,” and that “the House Appropriations Committee will not provide resources to your Department for the development or implementation of unlawful limitations on the unambiguous Second Amendment rights of Americans.”

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