As has been expected since before the 2015 Christmas holiday, President Barack Obama announced Tuesday a sweeping plan for gun control via executive order. As he is well aware, the “tricky legal loopholes” that he often refers to are actually federal law. Obama’s plan is to implement universal background checks, also known as “fixing the gun show loophole.” First the “loophole” isn’t a loophole at all. It is actually federal law. U.S. Code 44 Title 18 Part I Chapter 921 covers the laws for firearms. Section C of Chapter 921 read:
(C) as applied to a dealer in firearms, as defined in section 921(a)(11)(A), 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, but such term shall 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[.]
In his speech Obama stated that there are 30,000 gun deaths per year. This is somewhat accurate because about 10,000 murders are committed annually but the other 20,000 are suicides. He also stated that there have been over 20,000 kids murdered by guns over the last 10 years. You have to understand that the 2,000 deaths per year are included in the overall 30,000. He is cutting up the pie into more slices then there is pie! He also fails to state that gun murders have fallen every year on average since the Brady Act was enacted in 1993.
There is no gun violence problem in America. President Obama also cites the 466 police officers killed by convicted felons. Felons are already banned from owning or possessing firearms. No background check is going to prevent a criminal from obtaining a firearm, they just won’t do it legally.
Will Tennessee be bold?
Obama states that the ATF will make it clear that you can’t sell a gun without doing a background check. First, how does a president direct a federal agency to directly violate federal law that was passed by Congress and signed into law by a former president?
Probably the same way that we now have so-called Sanctuary Cities that are ignoring federal immigration laws. So can we set up “gun friendly cities” or “gun friendly states?” ABSOLUTELY! And fortunately for those of us living in Tennessee, we are already living in such a state because on April 30, 2015, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, signed Senate Bill 1110 which bars state cooperation with federal gun control laws.
This law “prohibits the use of any public funds, personnel, or property to enforce any federal law or regulation that regulates the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories.” If you go to a gun show in Tennessee and they are trying to control private gun sales, please contact Gov. Haslam immediately.
Second, Republicans have stated that they will not fund the various directives such as adding 230 examiners in the FBI to speed along background checks. Well, I am not sure how this will end up since we have very weak Republican leadership in the House and the Senate. Is there a chance that Speaker Paul Ryan rushed the 2016 Omnibus Spending bill through so that he wouldn’t have to fund these gun control initiatives? I doubt it because I don’t believe he is that smart.
ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. Nice.
Clean hands? Not with feds
Perhaps they can start by looking for the 2,000 guns they lost in Mexico during the Fast and Furious scandal. I’m sure those guns are now posted online. To me this is absolutely pointless because anyone can call up an FFL gun dealer anywhere in the country and “purchase” a firearm by providing a credit card number.
The buyer could be law abiding citizen, it could be a convicted felon, or it could be a twelve year old girl who swiped daddy’s credit card. BUT, when the purchaser show up in person to take possession of said firearm, they have to provide a state issued identification card and fill out the ATF Form 4473, pay their $10 and wait for the gun dealer to call the FBI to complete the background check. THEY CANNOT TAKE POSSESSION OF THE FIREARM UNTIL THE BACKGROUND CHECK IS COMPLETED.
The gun store is not simply going to pop the gun in the mail to you because they risk arrest, significant fines, and imprisonment. They will lose their business as well as all personal collateral they used to open the business.
Rules or guidelines
ATF is finalizing a rule to require background checks for people trying to buy some of the most dangerous weapons and other items through a trust, corporation, or other legal entity. First, are we bound to follow a “rule?” Aren’t rules more like guidelines? Executive departments such as the ATF do not write law! That is the job of Congress. What are the “most dangerous weapons” that are referred to? If Obama is referring to the AR-15 family of weapons, they are often the safest of weapons. Handguns cause over 90 percent of gun deaths. And by the way, the AR in AR-15 does not stand for assault rifle or automatic rifle. It stands for ArmaLite Rifle, which sold the rights to Colt which mass produced them.
The administration is proposing a new $500 million outlay to increase access to mental health care. I am actually in favor of this step. Evidence shows that many of the perpetrators of mass shootings are suffering from some sort of mental illness. If we can get people the help they need, to include suicide prevention, that is fantastic.
The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons. Does Obama not remember the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and its right to medical privacy?
The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons. Again, these “legal barriers are FEDERAL LAW. See HIPAA above.
Everyone to be in ‘business’
Obama’s fact sheet states that pretty much anyone selling a gun will be considered to be “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.” If you consider that those firearms sales were conducted where the seller clearly knew that their sold guns would be used in the commission of a felony or terrorism, then that statement is true. It is a long stretch to think that the U.S. Supreme Court would rule the same way. Some lower courts may rule this way however, and it will probably take a few years to work its way through the court system.
In summary, President Obama is forcing a solution for a problem that does not exist. Gun violence is down and keeping guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens will not reduce crime. These measures do nothing to take guns away from criminals. They do very little to address the threat of mass shootings.
Many of these measures are both illegal and unlawful. If you don’t know the difference between the two, you now have a little homework. And they certainly violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution.
Existing laws work
What he needs to do is enforce the laws that are on the books including deporting people in the country illegally. He needs to build a strong border wall along the Mexican border. I bet the majority of our politicians live in gated communities. So what’s wrong with a little security at our border? He needs to do thorough background checks on all people seeking asylum in this country. Let’s establish a new Ellis Island-type city on the Texas/Mexico border or on Padre Island where people stay until they are cleared. If they aren’t approved for entry, they don’t get in.
Sources:President Obama: Keeping Guns Out of the Wrong Hands. Retrieved from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2016/01/04/live-updates-what-president-doing-keep-guns-out-wrong-hands
Governor Bill Haslam (R) signed Senate Bill 1110. Retrieved from: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/05/04/tn-gov-signs-bill-prohibiting-state-cooperation-with-fed-gun-control-laws/
FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer. Retrieved from: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/04/fact-sheet-new-executive-actions-reduce-gun-violence-and-make-our