Unable to ram his attacks on the Second Amendment through Congress, a bitter Barack Obama has been reduced to pushing his Executive Branch powers to the the breaking point with a series of “executive orders” that the White House finally outlined last night.
They range from open lies, to empty threats, to harassment, to a few things that might actually be very beneficial to some gun owners, to a Orwellian scheme that could get many law enforcement officers and military servicemen killed.
Let’s jump right into what these executive orders outline, and separate Obama’s bluster from reality by dissecting his so-called “fact sheet.”
The President began his series of executive orders with what I’m interpreting as little more than “just words.”
Today, the Administration is announcing the following executive actions to ensure that all gun dealers are licensed and run background checks, and to strengthen the background check system itself:
- Clarify that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks. Background checks have been shown to keep guns out of the wrong hands, but too many gun sales—particularly online and at gun shows—occur without basic background checks. Today, the Administration took action to ensure that anyone who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms is licensed and conducts background checks on their customers. Consistent with court rulings on this issue, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has clarified the following principles:
- A person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms regardless of the location in which firearm transactions are conducted. For example, a person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms even if the person only conducts firearm transactions at gun shows or through the Internet. Those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the Internet or other technologies must obtain a license, just as a dealer whose business is run out of a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
- Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators. There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement. But it is important to note that even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is “engaged in the business.” For example, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.
- There are criminal penalties for failing to comply with these requirements. A person who willfully engages in the business of dealing in firearms without the required license is subject to criminal prosecution and can be sentenced up to five years in prison and fined up to $250,000. Dealers are also subject to penalties for failing to conduct background checks before completing a sale.
The law defining “engaged in the business” is very, very clear (PDF).
…a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms. A dealer can be “engaged in the business” without taking title to the firearms that are sold. However, the term does not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms
Neither Obama nor his petty Attorney General can merely set aside the law on a whim, as much as it pains their totalitarian little hearts. Loretta Lynch’s assertion that she can charge someone for merely selling one or two firearms is a bald-faced lie.
When is a “loophole” not a loophole? When it’s just more cheap Obama theatrics.
- Require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust or corporation. The National Firearms Act imposes restrictions on sales of some of the most dangerous weapons, such as machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. But because of outdated regulations, individuals have been able to avoid the background check requirement by applying to acquire these firearms and other items through trusts, corporations, and other legal entities. In fact, the number of these applications has increased significantly over the years—from fewer than 900 applications in the year 2000 to more than 90,000 applications in 2014. ATF is finalizing a rule that makes clear that people will no longer be able to avoid background checks by buying NFA guns and other items through a trust or corporation.
Obama wants to make everyone in so-called NFA trusts under-go finger-printing and background checks. This is an intentional annoyance to inconvenience law-abiding citizens who are already required to be law-abiding citizens in these trusts. This spiteful act has nothing whatsoever to do with stopping crimes committed with NFA firearms, as NFA weapons are simply not used in crimes. There have been precisely two instances of NFA registered firearms being used in criminal homicides in the past 82 years. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning while riding a unicycle and juggling cats than being killed with a legal machine gun.
But here’s what just happened that Obama won’t brag about to the media; the ATF just eliminated chief law enforcement officer (CLEO) sign off from the NFA process, making it easier to acquire silencers, machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and items classified as “any other weapon.” CLEO sign-off has been a major impediment in many states where owning NFA weapons is perfectly legal, but anti-gun sheriffs and police chiefs have been able to block their citizens from obtaining NFA items by simply refusing to sign-off on their acquiring items that they were otherwise qualified to own.
This arbitrary roadblock has now been eliminated.
While there is still much to be figured out in the days to come, it appears that Obama has eliminated most of the need for NFA trusts for most people, and it should actually be easier to acquire machine guns and silencers for more people across the country.
Thanks, Barack. you screwed up and did something right.
Obama’s entire administration has been one of “just words.” His point about providing better information to the NICS background check is more of the same.
- Ensure States are providing records to the background check system, and work cooperatively with jurisdictions to improve reporting. Congress has prohibited specific categories of people from buying guns—from convicted felons to users of illegal drugs to individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence. In the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007, Congress also created incentives for States to make as many relevant records as possible accessible to NICS. Over the past three years, States have increased the number of records they make accessible by nearly 70 percent. To further encourage this reporting, the Attorney General has written a letter to States highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified for mental health reasons, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence. The Administration will begin a new dialogue with States to ensure the background check system is as robust as possible, which is a public safety imperative.
Letters are nice, but funding is the problem. If Obama was serious about getting more information into NICS databases he would find a way to increase funding to the states so they can hire more people to upload the data.
Here’s an idea: maybe he could find the funding if he stopped importing and supporting thousands of unvetted foreign refugees containing dozens of hidden ISIS terrorists, or providing billions of dollars in aid to nations that hate us.
Barack Obama’s most stunning accomplishment as President is the number of guns he’s sold. At least one-third of all guns in the United States today were sold during the first seven years of the Obama Administration, and he’s not done yet.
To support the massive increase in gun sales and demand on the NICS background check database, he’s going to have to hire hundreds of more people to do background checks and keep the system running smoothly.
Make the background check system more efficient and effective. In 2015, NICS received more than 22.2 million background check requests, an average of more than 63,000 per day. By law, a gun dealer can complete a sale to a customer if the background check comes back clean or has taken more than three days to complete. But features of the current system, which was built in the 1990s, are outdated. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will take the following steps to ensure NICS operates more efficiently and effectively to keep guns out of the wrong hands:
- FBI will hire more than 230 additional NICS examiners and other staff members to assist with processing mandatory background checks. This new hiring will begin immediately and increase the existing workforce by 50 percent. This will reduce the strain on the NICS system and improve its ability to identify dangerous people who are prohibited from buying a gun before the transfer of a firearm is completed.
- FBI has partnered with the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) to modernize NICS. Although NICS has been routinely upgraded since its launch in 1998, the FBI is committed to making the system more efficient and effective, so that as many background checks as possible are fully processed within the three-day period before a dealer can legally sell a gun even if a background check is not complete. The improvements envisioned by FBI and USDS include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to improve overall response time and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to purchase a firearm.
This was another clear win for gun owners. Twice he’s done something right… but don’t expect it to last.
The saddest part of Obama’s legacy is his penchant for security theater. He has no intention of making the United States safer, as that would reduce the need for more government, and more government is clearly his dream.
Here’s where he throws shade, asserting that he’s going to do something about gun crime, but what he’s actually doing is focusing on harassing law-abiding citizens.
Ensure smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws. In a call earlier today, the Attorney General discussed the importance of today’s announcements and directed the Nation’s 93 U.S. Attorneys across the country to continue to focus their resources—as they have for the past several years under the Department’s Smart on Crime initiative—on the most impactful cases, including those targeting violent offenders, illegal firearms traffickers, and dangerous individuals who bypass the background check system to acquire weapons illegally. During the call, the Attorney General also emphasized ongoing initiatives to assist communities in combating violent crime, including ATF’s efforts to target the “worst of the worst” gun crimes. These efforts will also complement the following actions announced today:
- The President’s budget for FY2017 will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators who can help enforce our gun laws, including the measures announced today. Strategic and impactful enforcement will help take violent criminals off the street, deter other unlawful activity, and prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands
- ATF is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). The NIBIN database includes ballistic evidence that can be used by analysts and investigators to link violent crimes across jurisdictions and to track down shooters who prey on our communities. In February 2016, ATF is standing up the National NIBIN Correlation and Training Center—which will ultimately provide NIBIN matching services at one national location, rather than requiring local police departments to do that work themselves. The Center will provide consistent and capable correlation services, making connections between ballistic crime scene evidence and crime guns locally, regionally, and nationally. These enhancements will support ATF’s crime gun intelligence and enforcement efforts, particularly in communities most affected by violent crime.
- ATF has established an Internet Investigations Center (IIC) staffed with federal agents, legal counsel, and investigators to track illegal online firearms trafficking and to provide actionable intelligence to agents in the field. The IIC has already identified a number of significant traffickers operating over the Internet. This work has led to prosecutions against individuals or groups using the “dark net” to traffic guns to criminals or attempting to buy firearms illegally online.
These additional ATF investigators will be used to harass gun dealers, nitpicking at their record keeping. They will do little or nothing when it comes to going after criminals, unless setting up the mentally-challenged for criminal convictions is your idea of “law enforcement.”
If Obama was intent on putting bad guys in jail, would have instead directed monies towards prosecution in the Department of Justice. Instead, prosecutions have dropped substantially in Obama’s DOJ.
Barack Obama doesn’t want to stop real gun crime. He’s instead allowing violent criminals to go un-prosecuted, or get away with minimal sentences instead of putting them away.
Gun theft from dealers and distributors is a horrible thing, but it happens. Typically, it occurs when a criminal in a shipping company decides that he’s going to pick off an gun or two and see if anyone notices. As shipping companies typically have very good tracking systems, these guys are typically picked up pretty quickly… though getting the DOJ to actually prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law is another story entirely, as noted above.
Instead of going after the criminals, Obama’s going to do more to harass the victims.
- Ensure that dealers notify law enforcement about the theft or loss of their guns. Under current law, federal firearms dealers and other licensees must report when a gun from their inventory has been lost or stolen. The regulations are ambiguous, however, about who has this responsibility when a gun is lost or stolen in transit. Many lost and stolen guns end up being used in crimes. Over the past five years, an average of 1,333 guns recovered in criminal investigations each year were traced back to a licensee that claimed it never received the gun even though it was never reported lost or stolen either. Today, ATF issued a final rule clarifying that the licensee shipping a gun is responsible for notifying law enforcement upon discovery that it was lost or stolen in transit.
Hey, her skirt was too short. She was asking for it. He didn’t tell us he was a victim fast enough, so let’s go after him instead of the gun thief.
- Issue a memo directing every U.S. Attorney’s Office to renew domestic violence outreach efforts. In the event of an emergency, victims of domestic violence should call 911 or otherwise contact state or local law enforcement officials, who have a broader range of options for responding to these crimes. To provide an additional resource for state, local, and tribal law enforcement and community groups focused on domestic violence, the Attorney General is issuing a memo directing U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country to engage in renewed efforts to coordinate with these groups to help combat domestic violence and to prevent prohibited persons from obtaining firearms.
You know what consistently stops domestic abuse? A dense metal projectile moving through the cardiovascular or central nervous systems of the offender. As men are on average 15% heavier and stronger than women, a firearm is the best option they have in defending themselves, and many women have done just that.
But Obama doesn’t really care about putting these dirtbags down with justifiable self-defense shootings or even warning them away, which is how most defensive gun uses play out. He’d rather have another few thousand defenseless women end up like Carol Bowne.
There’s a mix of bad-to-awful in this section, and we’ll see how it all plays out.
- Dedicate significant new resources to increase access to mental health care. Despite our recent significant gains, less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. To address this, the Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to help engage individuals with serious mental illness in care, improve access to care by increasing service capacity and the behavioral health workforce, and ensure that behavioral health care systems work for everyone. This effort would increase access to mental health services to protect the health of children and communities, prevent suicide, and promote mental health as a top priority.
Funding mental health initiatives is always a good thing. If this initiative actually provides care, then it will be worthwhile.
Unfortunately, there is every reason to suspect that under this Administration that the goal is to merely ensure that more people are labeled as mentally ill to deny them gun rights without getting them any actual help. This is incredibly cynical, and will not help save lives.
Obama has been consistent in his attempts to use the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration to deny citizens their gun rights if they have been declared unable to take care of their affairs.
- Include information from the Social Security Administration in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to NICS. The reporting that SSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is expected to require will cover appropriate records of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent. The rulemaking will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.
If we were only talking about people with advanced dementia who were seeing ghosts and could be considered a legitimate threat to themselves or others, then that would potentially be a good move… but that’s not what this is.
Obama is casting his net as wide as possible to ensnare folks who have short-term memory loss issues, who are recovering from strokes, etc. If, for any reason, you cannot “manage your own affairs” on even a temporary basis, a faceless government bureaucrat can strip you of your constitutional rights under this despicable plot.
This isn’t just spiteful, it’s abusive.
The devil is going to be in the details on this one…
- Remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information to the background check system. Although States generally report criminal history information to NICS, many continue to report little information about individuals who are prohibited by Federal law from possessing or receiving a gun for specific mental health reasons. Some State officials raised concerns about whether such reporting would be precluded by the Privacy Rule issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Today, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule expressly permitting certain HIPAA covered entities to provide to the NICS limited demographic and other necessary information about these individuals.
Expect the Obama Administration to attempt to use temporary problems—people who enter into one-time treatment to deal with personal trauma or bereavement issues—to create lifetime bans on gun ownership.
Once again, evil.
Every totalitarian on Earth would love nothing more or less than the ability to render every gun in the nation inert with the press of a computer key, or disabling the guns of selected groups of foes at least. Tyrants could then easily disarm the citizenry, or an military or law enforcement unit that rose in opposition to them, with the flip of a switch.
Did I mention Obama wants to force that sort of technology on the military and federal law enforcement?
Here it is.
Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security to take two important steps to promote smart gun technology.
- Increase research and development efforts. The Presidential Memorandum directs the departments to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns. Within 90 days, these agencies must prepare a report outlining a research-and-development strategy designed to expedite the real-world deployment of such technology for use in practice.
- Promote the use and acquisition of new technology. The Presidential Memorandum also directs the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety. In connection with these efforts, the departments will consult with other agencies that acquire firearms and take appropriate steps to consider whether including such technology in specifications for acquisition of firearms would be consistent with operational needs.
We’ve been looking at “smart gun” technologies for more than six decades.
In each and every instance, we circle back to the same inescapable reality that adding needless complexity to weapons will cause them to fail and cost the lives of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, along with police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and federal agents.
These technologies are incredibly fragile novelties, unfit for use in military, law enforcement, or civilians contexts outside of tinkering and amusement. We know this. We’ve known this.
Forcing the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, and Department of Homeland Security to use and acquire these infant technologies will get good people killed.
But it makes tyrants happy.
Barack Obama has done nothing with his executive order that will have any impact on the single greatest cause of criminal homicides in this nation. The sad acceptance of a “thug culture” that revels in music, film, and a street life that glorifies the use and trafficking of illicit drugs, celebrates “getting by” instead of succeeding, cheapens work and family, and glorifies criminal violence as a way of life is the greatest determent to slashing the current record low per-capita murder rate to even lower levels.
Unfortunately, to target that would be to admit that welfare socialism, the linchpin that holds the progressive wing of the Democrat party together, is an utter failure. No progressive Democrat could ever admit that. They’d rather millions die first… and they have.
Hopefully, the Republican-controlled Congress will stop many of these harmful executive actions by simply refusing to fund the offending initiatives, and run out the clock on Obama’s lame duck Presidency.
Beyond that, it’s up to the American voters to decide whether they want to elect one of the several Republican candidates who have already said they will fight against more gun control, or if they will instead vote for one of three Democrats who have publicly pledged to gut the Second Amendment.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.