TotD: Gun Control by Executive Order

In case you missed it, President Obama made a tearful speech regarding gun control today. As to be expected from a politician, he said much without actually saying anything at all. Beyond pulling at our heart strings, Obama made four points which he intends to implement in the form of Executive Orders.

1) “Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions.”

This is simply a rewording of the mythical “gun show loophole.” It doesn’t exist, folks. His desire is already well within current law. I wish people would take 3 minutes from their busy schedule and do a teensy weensy amount of research before spouting off at the mouth about this stuff.

27 CFR 478.102 “Sales or deliveries of firearms on and after November 30, 1998.

(a) Background check. Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer (the licensee) shall not sell, deliver, or transfer a firearm to any other person who is not licensed under this part unless the licensee meets the following requirements:

(1) Before the completion of the transfer, the licensee has contacted NICS.”

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, must be consulted each and every time a licensed dealer sells a firearm. Notice that the law does not specify the location of the sale because it makes no difference whatsoever. Whether it’s at a store, at a gun show, on the internet, or out of the back of a trunk in a dark alley, every licensed dealer must perform a background check on every sale. Period.

2) “We’re going to add 200 more ATF agents and investigators. We’re going to require firearms dealers to report more lost or stolen guns on a timely basis.”

The first part is well within Executive discretion. ATF agents are employees of the executive branch and, as such, their numbers may be adjusted at the whims of the President. The second part, however, is also current law.

27 CFR 478.39a “Reporting theft or loss of firearms.

Each licensee shall report the theft or loss of a firearm from the licensee’s inventory…, or from the collection of a licensed collector, within 48 hours after the theft or loss is discovered.”

We could quibble over just how quickly is quick enough, but we would be missing the point. The Constitution very clearly gives the powers of legislating to the Congress, not the President. In order to directly alter a law (such as the 48 hour requirement above), a new law must be issued by Congress.

3) “We’re going to do more to help those suffering from mental illness get the help that they need. … But the truth is, is that nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides. So a lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves.”

I’m actually surprised that he admitted to this fact. Supporters of increased gun control are quick to point out statistics and numbers while discretely omitting the fact that fully two-thirds were not victims of violence. So the question remains, what can the President do to prevent people from hurting themselves? Sounds like a lot of hot air to me.

4) “We’re going to boost gun safety technology.”

This one is rather scary. The automobile industry was hobbled in the name of safety and I cannot foresee anything positive coming from bureaucrats with no incentives for effectiveness or efficiency in the firearms industry either.

Is there a firearms “problem” in the U.S.? Perhaps. I’m willing to discuss it. Does the President have authority to alter U.S. law because he thinks that Congress isn’t doing enough? No. Should we celebrate a “victory” against gun violence or lament the dismissal of Constitutional restraints? I hope you choose the latter.

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