Despite the National Rifle Association's assertion that Feinstein and other Democrats are taking steps toward outlawing all guns, no lawmaker is calling for a ban on the legal purchase of handguns. These common firearms, which account for the majority of gun-related violence in America but are also used for self-defense, are fully protected by the Second Amendment, according to a 2008 Supreme Court ruling.
Speaking Monday before a meeting with police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, Obama said he understands that America's gun violence problem runs deeper than the mass shootings that trigger international headlines.
"I welcome this opportunity to work with (law enforcement), to hear their views in terms of what will make the biggest difference to prevent something like Newtown or Oak Creek from happening again," the president said. "But many of them also recognize that it's not only the high-profile mass shootings that are of concern here, it's also what happens on a day-in-day-out basis in places like Chicago or Philadelphia, where young people are victims of gun violence every single day."
There are three main ways that Obama's plan could indirectly stem the toll of handgun violence:
• increasing access to mental health services
• lifting restrictions on federally funded research on gun violence
• extending background checks before the purchase of a gun
It's unclear if any of these proposals would have affected the outcome of the Springfield, Mo., drug deal that claimed the life of 23-year-old Trent Brewer.
But in domestic violence incidents, like the one that killed Beatriz Cintora-Silva, even something as simple as considering an accuser's mental state could make a difference, according to CNN's mental health expert Dr. Charles Raison.
For example, if police detained accused abusers for a longer time, would that allow for a cooling off period and a decreased chance of violence?
"The only way to interrupt (violent incidents) is to lock up and intervene tons and tons of times, where everyone who exhibits symptoms is locked up," said Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "But then as a society, where do we want to strike a balance between personal freedom and intervening to stop the high rate of violent acts?"
Despite all his concerns, Raison said he finds the discussion about opening up access to mental health services promising, but also "an extremely slippery slope."
According to the FBI, 6,220 people were killed by handguns in 2011 and many law enforcement and public health experts say that shows much more needs to be done to seriously address the gun violence epidemic -- even more than what the president or Congress proposes.
"These are all steps in the right direction to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them, the mental health issues, those are all good things," said Mike Bouchard, a retired agent with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and president of Security Dynamics Group, a consulting firm that ensures companies are compliant with firearm regulations.
"But I don't know that it's going to reduce the homicide rate."
Searching for answers
Trent Brewer and Beatriz Cintora-Silva were part of a fairly typical pattern of homicides in December 2012, the same month as the Newtown mass murders.
Exactly how many others across the United States met the same fate that month?
There's really no way to know. That's because of a lack of data. The FBI details homicides each year but it often has a lag time in reporting and does not specify the exact type of weapon. While the CDC has a National Violent Death Reporting System to collect data for violence prevention research, it is only operational in 18 states.
A slew of researchers, professors and experts successfully urged Vice President Joe Biden to include researching gun violence as one of the proposals he submitted to the president. Biden led the gun violence task force created by Obama in the wake of last month's Newtown shootings.
Harold Pollack, co-director of the Chicago Crime Lab and one of the researchers who penned the recommendations to Biden, said he hopes this federal action will reverse the stifling of research and data since the 1990s.
That's when the powerful pro-gun National Rifle Association effectively ended federal funding for gun violence research, citing its opposition to taxpayer-funded studies on gun violence.
That type of research is exactly what Pollack said can eventually prevent some of the senseless deaths as a result of guns.
"If you look at 'How did someone get that gun that led to that person getting killed?' we might be able to find ways to have interfered with it," Pollack said. "Maybe it's related to the gun dealer, maybe it's a type of gun commerce that we can interrupt, or maybe there's a social service intervention before any of that."
He noted that studies of infant deaths and car accidents led to decreased rates of deaths in both cases.