Vice President Joe Biden is working to form the Obama administration's response to the December Connecticut school shooting just as new reports have kicked off conversation regarding a gun-related provision in President Barack Obama's health care law.
According to the law text, the "Protection of Second Amendment gun rights" provision states in part that none of the authorities in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or its amendments authorize or may be used to collect any information relating to:
• The lawful ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition
• The lawful use of a firearm or ammunition
• The lawful storage of a firearm or ammunition
Additionally, the law states that none of the authorities or amendments of the law "shall be construed to authorize or may be used to maintain records of individual ownership or possession of a firearm or ammunition."
The Washington Post reported on the provision Dec. 30, saying the provision was pushed by the National Rifle Association and discovered "only in recent days" by some lawmakers and medical groups.
According to the Post, NRA officials said they requested the provision out of concern that companies could use collected data to raise insurance premiums on gun owners.
CNN's Jim Acosta called the provision "a gift to the nation's powerful gun lobby," and noted that it was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada who inserted the provision.
Acosta also cited an unnamed Democratic source as saying, "This is what was viewed as a relatively benign way to make sure the NRA didn't get involved with this."
A Reid adviser reportedly told CNN that Reid's feelings on gun control have changed since the health care law was signed, and that "he's in a different place."
On Dec. 17, The Huffington Post quoted Reid as saying that he believed part of the healing process after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting would require Congress to "examine what can be done to prevent more tragedies like the ones in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; Oak Creek, Wis.; and Portland."
The health care gun provision "doesn't specifically forbid doctors from asking patients about guns," Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer. Rather, he said, "It's more about them being able to document it, being able to use this for research purposes, and for research into gun safety."
"Folks in the NRA will say, 'Well, look, we don't want patients to be discriminated against because they own a gun. We don't want their insurance premiums to be higher,' things like that," Gupta said.
However, The Washington Post reports, physician groups and researchers see the provision as part of an ongoing gun lobby strategy to cut off federal support for studies of firearm violence. Groups are working to convince Congress to reverse the provision, saying Congress should embark on an effort to fund gun-related research, including the collection and publication of gun violence data.