Today, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a list of 23 responses to the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took place in December in Newtown, Connecticut. These actions are to be undertaken by executive order, bypassing Congress.
By our count, the list includes:
- Seven items are related to open data—better sharing of information among states and federal agencies to improve the efficacy of background checks.
- Six have to do with improving mental health and health care, including clarifying that doctors have the right, under the Affordable Care Act, to ask patients if they have a gun in the home.
- Four more call for research reports and awareness campaigns. The Centers for Disease Control is going to be asked to study, again, the effects of violent video games on gun violence. As the American Psychological Association summed up 10 years ago, based on the previous 40 years of research, "Media violence is only one of many factors that contribute to societal violence and is certainly not the most important one."
Finally, the administration is turning to private industry. They want to hear the best ideas from the private sector for new gun safety technologies. The leading contender right now is smart guns.
In the latest James Bond movie, 007 receives a Walther PPK/S with a biometric palm-print reader so that it can only be fired by him. (SPOILER ALERT) It saves his life before the film is over.
Biden spoke out in favor of this idea at a meeting with video game designers on Friday.
An enhanced form of this idea would include some biometric assays similar to those being proposed for cars; they prevent you from firing when your heart rate is too high or when you are drunk (although distinguishing when someone is stressed due to actual imminent danger versus an irrelevant argument might be tricky).
[Image: Flickr user White House]