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White House announces two new 'executive actions' on guns

The Obama administration is proposing two more executive actions that it says will help prevent individuals who are prohibited from having a gun for mental health reasons from obtaining a firearm.

The Department of Justice, arguing that current federal law contains terminology about mental health issues that is too vague,  proposed a regulation that would clarify who is ineligible to possess a firearm for specific situations related to mental health, like commitment to a mental institution. “In addition to providing general guidance on federal law, these clarifications will help states determine what information should be made accessible to the federal background check system, which will, in turn, strengthen the system's reliability and effectiveness,” the administration said in a fact sheet distributed to reporters.

The second executive action, proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services, would allow some medical organizations more leeway to report “limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands” to the federal background check system. “The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm,” the White House added.

The two new “executive actions” announced Friday by the Office of the Vice President add to over two dozen executive branch rules designed to help reduce gun violence.

Legislative efforts to pass stricter background checks failed to gain traction in Congress last year.