White House proposes new gun-control action

A Glock representative explains features of the Glock 37 Gen 4 .45 caliber pistol at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas.
A Glock representative explains features of the Glock 37 Gen 4 .45 caliber pistol at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas.

The White House announced two new executive orders on Friday aimed at strengthening the federal background checks system for gun purchases.

The first proposed regulation, submitted by the Department of Justice, requests clarification about individuals who are barred from possessing a gun under federal law because of mental health complications. Some state representatives said the terminology currently used is "ambiguous," according to a statement from the White House.

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services filed a request to address barriers that prevent states from submitting limited information on people with mental health issues to the federal background checks system. The proposal asks that certain limited information be submitted into the system to keep guns out of the hands of people who could possibly cause danger.

"The administration's two new executive actions will help ensure that better and more reliable information makes its way into the background check system," the White House said in a statement.

When asked for comment by msnbc, the White House deferred to Vice President Joe Biden's tweet on Friday afternoon:

The First Family is on vacation in Honolulu, Hawaii, until next week.

The Senate failed last April to pass a bipartisan background checks bill despite a campaign by the president and vice president to strengthen gun-control laws in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

Despite inaction in Congress, 21 states enacted new laws to curb gun violence last year, according to the 2013 State Gun Laws Scorecard. Advocates and organizations pushing for tighter restrictions on gun sales, led by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, took to the halls on Capitol Hill urging leaders to "finish the job" on background checks implemented by the 1993 Brady Bill.

Related: On gun reform, states put Washington to shame

Obama signed a 23-point gun-control order a month after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., the country's second-worst school shooting. In part, he dedicated efforts to change the negative view many citizens have of mental health. Consequently, he implemented a parity rule that grants Americans the same mental health and addiction coverage as for physical ailments.

President Obama's 2014 budget proposal includes a new $130 million initiative to address barriers that might prevent people from receiving help for mental health issues, according to the release.