Barack Obama has announced two gun control executive orders today, both aimed at disarming legal gun owners and collectors, not criminals.

The first order takes aim at “gun trusts,” a mechanism that allows people legally acquire short-barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, sound suppressors, and automatic weapons requiring a $200 tax stamp under the National Firearms Act (NFA).

The most frequent use of such trusts is to go around local officials (police chiefs and county sheriffs) that would block citizens from owning these arms, when the purchaser is otherwise legally able to own these arms under state and federal laws. We’re not aware of any criminal ever using a gun trust to acquire a firearm used to commit a crime, and only two NFA machine guns—neither of which were acquired via gun trusts—have been used in murders in 79 years.

The other executive order is one of pure spite, designed to block the importation of M1 Garands, M1 carbines, and other firearms lent to American allies in the past, but which are obsolete by modern standards. In particular, it seems aimed at a large batch of Garands and M1 carbines being held in South Korean armories.

Such firearms form the backbone of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, and are used in marksmanship training and competition around the country. Others are snapped up by collectors interested in the history and heritage of the weapon, a history and heritage this President would clearly like to see erased.


Outside of Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino, I cannot find a single example of the nominally ten-pound, 43.6″ long rifle being used for anything other than marksmanship training, target shooting, and occasional deer hunting.

The relevant text of the White House release follows.


Closing a Loophole to Keep Some of the Most Dangerous Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

Current law places special restrictions on many of the most dangerous weapons, such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns.  These weapons must be registered, and in order to lawfully possess them, a prospective buyer must undergo a fingerprint-based background check.

However, felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check and gain access to machine guns or other particularly dangerous weapons by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation.  At present, when the weapon is registered to a trust or corporation, no background check is run.  ATF reports that last year alone, it received more than 39,000 requests for transfers of these restricted firearms to trusts or corporations.

Today, ATF is issuing a new proposed regulation to close this loophole.  The proposed rule requires individuals associated with trusts or corporations that acquire these types of weapons to undergo background checks, just as these individuals would if the weapons were registered to them individually.  By closing this loophole, the regulation will ensure that machine guns and other particularly dangerous weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.

Keeping Surplus Military Weapons Off Our Streets

When the United States provides military firearms to its allies, either as direct commercial sales or through the foreign military sales or military assistance programs, those firearms may not be imported back into the United States without U.S. government approval.  Since 2005, the U.S. Government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 of these firearms.

Today, the Administration is announcing a new policy of denying requests to bring military-grade firearms back into the United States to private entities, with only a few exceptions such as for museums.  This new policy will help keep military-grade firearms off our streets.