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Gun control: Three ways supporters are carrying on the fight

While gun control proponents may have conceded defeat in the Senate, they insist the war isn’t over. President Obama himself said he saw the defeat as just Round 1.

By Husna HaqCorrespondent / April 19, 2013

President Obama gestures next to Vice President Joe Biden, as he speaks during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, on Wednesday, about the defeat in the Senate of a bill to expand background checks on guns.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

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The fight for more gun control isn’t dead. At least, that’s what advocates claim.

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They’ve gone through the so-called stages of grief: Denial (what else would you call the remark by Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, “We’re gonna pass this”?). Anger (did you read shooting victim and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s op-ed to The New York Times?). Bargaining (unseen, perhaps, but backroom deal attempts and last-minute pleas were many). Depression (did you see President Obama’s face in the Rose Garden after the Senate defeat?). And now – with the decision by Senate majority leader Harry Reid to deep-freeze the issue by pulling the entire gun bill from the Senate floor – acceptance.

But while gun-control proponents may have conceded defeat in the Senate, they’re insisting the war isn’t over: It’s just moving to other fronts – like states, the executive branch, and the airwaves.

“This effort is not over,” Mr. Obama said in remarks Wednesday after the gun bill’s defeat. “I see this as just Round 1.”

Here are three ways that gun-control supporters will try to carry on their fight.

Executive action. “Even without Congress, my administration will keep doing everything it can to protect more of our communities,” Obama said in the Rose Garden shortly after the Senate’s gun vote. “We're going to address the barriers that prevent states from participating in the existing background-check system.”

It’s as if, disgusted by Congress, Obama decided to take matters into his own hands. And it's not the first time he's taken the initiative on gun-control measures: In January, he announced 23 executive actions on guns.

This time his first target, perhaps not surprisingly, is background checks. And he’s homing in on ensuring that mentally ill people are denied access to firearms. That’s because the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s current background-check system has many holes. According to the Associated Press, a federal review revealed that 17 states sent fewer than 10 mental-health records to the FBI’s background-check database, “meaning many deemed by a judge to be a danger still could have access to guns.”

That’s partly due to lack of enforcement and partly due to health privacy laws that prevent some states from providing information on mental-health illnesses to national databases. (Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, health-care providers are limited in what, and how much, medical information can be released to authorities.)

Obama has said he will use executive action, if possible, to allow disclosure of mental-health records, potentially giving states financial incentives for reporting mental-health information to national databases.

Airwaves: The National Rifle Association is not the only player handing out ratings. (As you know, the NRA doles out letter grades to politicians based on their voting record on guns, reinforcing pro-gun lawmakers and warning those who support gun control.)

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