President Obama is going to use his executive power as President to push for smart gun technology, in a last-ditch attempt to limit the use of traditional firearms, the White House announced on Friday.
Obama will tackle gun violence head-on in his final months at the White House amid fierce opposition from the NRA and other pro-firearms groups.
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But critics of smart gun technology, including some police officials, are expected to fight a proposal that they see as unproven and an unwarranted restriction on the freedom to use firearms.
The initiative was unveiled on the White House website, along with a report from the administration’s law enforcement agencies concluding that the government should do more to spur development of the technologies. To that end, the Defense and Justice Departments will develop criteria for gun manufacturers who want to sell smart guns to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The administration will also offer cash prizes and grants to gun manufacturers to spur development of the technology, which is intended to make a gun useless if someone other than the owner tries to fire it.
In a post on his Facebook page, Mr. Obama wrote that “as long as we’ve got the technology to prevent a criminal from stealing and using your smartphone, then we should be able to prevent the wrong person from pulling a trigger on a gun.”
Mr. Obama has been frustrated in his efforts to enact broad gun control measures after mass shootings and a spike in shooting deaths in some major American cities. In 2013, he failed to convince Congress to pass a universal background check requirement after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
But in January, Mr. Obama announced a series of executive actions that expanded background checks for some gun purchases, while improving the tracking of stolen weapons and the reporting of mental health information.
On Friday, Mr. Obama also announced a new federal rule designed to make sure that federal mental health records are included in the background check system.
The rule, which is subject to public comment and hearings, would ensure that the Social Security Administration provide information about mental health issues to the background check system, to prevent mentally ill people from being able to buy a gun.
“As long as I’m your president, I will do everything in my power to make our communities safer and keep guns out of the wrong hands,” Mr. Obama wrote in the Facebook post.