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Obama proposes firearm background check changes

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Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 12:43 pm

HONOLULU — The Obama administration on Friday announced a pair of executive actions aimed at strengthening federal background checks for gun purchasers, with a particular focus on limiting firearm access for those with mental health issues.

One proposed rule change aims to clarify terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons. The administration said states have complained that some wording is ambiguous, making it difficult to determine who should be blocked from buying a weapon.

A second proposed rule change would allow hospitals and other entities covered by patient privacy provisions to submit additional information to the background check system. However, the administration said the rule change would not require reporting on general mental health care or legally prohibit someone from having a firearm solely because they sought treatment.

The White House announced the proposed rule changes while President Barack Obama was vacationing in Hawaii.

Obama proposed sweeping gun control measures last year following the horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But the toughest proposals, including universal background checks, fell flat on Capitol Hill, forcing the White House to rely on piecemeal measures that can be implemented without congressional approval.

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