Obama’s Executive Actions on Guns – What it Really Means

by Dean Rieck

After years of unsuccessful attempts to pass gun control laws, President Obama has chosen to do an end run around Congress with executive actions.

The proposals are intended to intimidate gun owners by threatening fines and jail time for even casual sales of personal property, infringe on Constitutionally protected rights by allowing bureaucrats to categorize individuals as unfit to own firearms, and force firearm manufacturers to adopt unproven and unsafe technology through financial intimidation by the federal government.

“The idea to speed up background checks isn’t bad,” said Dean Rieck, Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association. “But most of the President’s proposals open the door to abuse and arbitrary persecution of law-abiding citizens while ignoring the reality that criminals don’t abide by the current rules and won’t abide by modified rules either.”

One of the targets of these executive actions is gun shows. Gun control proponents have talked about the so-called “gun show loophole” for years. However, crime statistics show that very few firearms used in crimes are purchased at gun shows. One US Department of Justice study found that less than 1% of “crime guns” were obtained at gun shows.

“The attempt to close this fictitious loophole by requiring background checks for sales by those who may engage in as few as two transactions serves only to intimidate law-abiding gun owners,” said Rieck. “It has the potential to make criminals out of hobbyists instead of catching actual criminals.”

The executive actions also propose spending millions more on a ballistic fingerprint database. Canada scrapped their database in 2012 after spending a fortune and seeing no positive results. Maryland also tried the same idea and recently gave up after wasting $5 million of taxpayer funds.

“I don’t fault anyone for wanting to reduce crime,” said Rieck. “But the fact is, these executive actions demonstrate a lack of understanding about where criminals get firearms and they serve only to erect road blocks for ordinary people to exercise a Constitutionally protected right. These proposals will not affect crime in any way.”

Further Analysis and Updates

Read the White House “Fact” Sheet

Obama’s BATFE has changed the regulations on National Firearms Act (NFA) items.

This will have wide ranging impact.

  • Trusts and LLCs buying NFA items will now be in the same backlog as individual purchasers.
  • All responsible persons in a trust or LLC must now go through the same fingerprinting, photo and background check.
  • It is now open to debate whether anyone who has not undergone a background check will be able to purchase an item.

For more information, see: ATF Publishes Final Rule in Relation to ATF-41P.

NSSF Statement: “Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and make Our Communities Safer”

We all share the goal of reducing the intentional misuse of guns and enhancing the safety of our communities. As the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) will carefully review all aspects of the executive actions that President Obama announced today. Much remains to be spelled out. In the interim we have some initial reactions:

  • We support further resources being allocated to staffing and increasing operational hours for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make the system more efficient and responsive.
  • We represent Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). The criteria for what will constitute being “engaged in the business” going forward needs considerable clarification and raises questions about enforceability.
  • The number of firearms lost or stolen while in transit to or from FFLs is less than 0.15 percent of the number manufactured and imported in a given year. In these rare occurrences, FFLs already actively participate in ATF’s long-standing voluntary reporting program and FFLs and common carriers work closely with ATF to investigate them. Proposals to make a shipping FFL responsible for tracking and reporting firearms no longer in their inventories, after the legal title has been transferred to the purchaser, are misdirected, as the receiving FFL is in the best position to know if it receives its shipment.
  • We have long called for the effective enforcement of the numerous laws already on the books regarding the criminal misuse of firearms and would encourage the administration to carry through on this directive.
  • NSSF has been working actively since early 2013 through our FixNICS initiative to encourage states to report all appropriate adjudicated mental health records to NICS and has succeeded in getting legislation passed in more than a dozen states. We welcome the administration’s attention to this issue.
  • With regard to the development of “smart-gun” technology, the industry has never opposed its development. How additional government research into this technology would advance it is unclear. Law enforcement agencies and consumers themselves will have to make the determination whether acquisition of firearms with this technology “would be consistent with operational needs,” as the White House itself states. We would continue to oppose mandates for this technology, particularly since there are well proven existing methods to secure firearms, and firearms accidents are at historic low levels.

NSSF will have additional responses in the days, weeks and months ahead, especially as federal departments and agencies begin the work of carrying out the executive orders.

Statement on President Obama’s Proposed Executive Actions on Gun Control

The executive director of the Institute for Legislative Action, Chris W. Cox, released the following statement on Tuesday regarding President Barack Obama’s Executive Gun Control Order:

Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems. Today’s event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack.

The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. But the fact is that President Obama’s proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness.

The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. We will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity – nor will we allow them to become scapegoats for President Obama’s failed policies.

Additional Reading:

Obama’s executive actions on guns: Legal analysis

New ATF guidance on gun sales is legally meaningless (or else it would be unlawful)

AP Analysis: Obama Executive Actions Wouldn’t Have Kept Guns From Mass Shooters