President Obama Orders 23 Solutions For Gun Violence And Calls For Open Data Ideas

What about James Bond-style smart guns?

President Obama Orders 23 Solutions For Gun Violence And Calls For Open Data Ideas
Dec. 14, 2012 The president reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The president later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his presidency. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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.”

Among the remaining responses, Obama decreed more “incentives” for schools to hire police officers. This is ironic since the NRA issued a controversial national ad today using images of Obama’s daughters to call him a “hypocrite” for not supporting their proposal of armed guards in all schools.

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]

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.