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white house gun control initiative of 2011

I am a bit late on writing about this (Better Half was headed out of the country way-too-early this morning, so I had better things to do than blog yesterday), but it is just too good to pass up.

Over the weekend, the news leaked out that Our Glorious President was considering finally following through on those promises of enhanced "gun control" he made back during his election campaign:

The changes will include:

• A national electronic system designed to make background checks for handgun buyers simpler and faster, leaving an electronic paper trail under a law named for James Brady, Ronald Reagan’s press secretary who was wounded in the 1981 assassination attempt on the president.
• A new reporting requirement that federally licensed gun shops report any person who tries to buy two long-arm weapons near the Mexican border over a five-day period.
• Tougher sentencing guidelines for straw buyers that Holder’s department pushed through procedural hoops at the U.S. Sentencing Commission earlier this year.

But, worse, President Obama is planning on making these changes through executive fiat, bypassing Congress and most of the functionalities that were built into our government to prevent this kind of gos-se:

White House press secretary Jay Carney hinted last week that “common-sense measures” designed to “improve Americans’ safety and security while fully respecting Second Amendment rights” are in the works. Carney suggested the changes would be made in consultation with “stakeholders on all sides” to figure out the best solutions. LaPierre said, however, his group hasn’t been consulted yet.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the regulatory changes will be introduced separately, without a large ceremony, and certainly not with a branded name that could turn into attack ads, such as “White House Gun Control Initiative of 2011.”

When informed of the administration’s preparations, several members of Congress bristled at the plan.

“Democratic government was always supposed to be messy, but it’s based on checks and balances,” says Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who sits on Congress’s Second Amendment Task Force. “Going only through executive action is not good for his relationship with Congress…Those ideas are going to have a great deal of comments and can be abused especially if done by executive order.”

(Obligatory correction to Representative Bishop – America does not possess a democratic government; our government is a constitutional republic.)

Well, coincidentally enough, the same day that above article was published, we got our first taste of what Our Glorious President was planning:

The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States. Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border. This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations. These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.

For anyone paying attention to any kind of firearm-related news over the past few weeks, this rationale is complete and utter nonsense, as expressed by Senator Grassley:

We’ve learned from our investigation of Fast and Furious that reporting multiple long gun sales would do nothing to stop the flow of firearms to known straw purchasers because many Federal Firearms Dealers are already voluntarily reporting suspicious transactions. In fact, in just the documents we’ve obtained, we are aware of 150 multiple long guns sales associated with the ATF’s Fast and Furious case, and despite the fact that nearly all of these sales were reported in real time by cooperating gun dealers, the ATF watched the guns be transported from known straw purchasers to third parties and then let the guns walk away, often across the border. This makes it pretty clear that the problem isn’t lack of burdensome reporting requirements. The administration’s continued overreach with regulations continues, and is a distraction from its reckless policy to allow guns to walk into Mexico.

Even worse than being based on complete and utter hypocrisy, this new reporting requirement is quite illegal, as explained in United States Code, Title 18, Chapter 44, Section 923 (part of the document commonly known as the Gun Control Act of 1968):

(g)(2) Each licensed collector shall maintain in a bound volume the nature of which the Attorney General may by regulations prescribe, records of the receipt, sale, or other disposition of firearms. Such records shall include the name and address of any person to whom the collector sells or otherwise disposes of a firearm. Such collector shall not be required to submit to the Attorney General reports and information with respect to such records and the contents thereof, except as expressly required by this section.

(g)(3)

(A) Each licensee shall prepare a report of multiple sales or other dispositions whenever the licensee sells or otherwise disposes of, at one time or during any five consecutive business days, two or more pistols, or revolvers, or any combination of pistols and revolvers totalling two or more, to an unlicensed person. The report shall be prepared on a form specified by the Attorney General and forwarded to the office specified thereon and to the department of State police or State law enforcement agency of the State or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction in which the sale or other disposition took place, not later than the close of business on the day that the multiple sale or other disposition occurs.

(B) Except in the case of forms and contents thereof regarding a purchaser who is prohibited by subsection (g) or (n) of section 922 of this title from receipt of a firearm, the department of State police or State law enforcement agency or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction shall not disclose any such form or the contents thereof to any person or entity, and shall destroy each such form and any record of the contents thereof no more than 20 days from the date such form is received. No later than the date that is 6 months after the effective date of this subparagraph, and at the end of each 6-month period thereafter, the department of State police or State law enforcement agency or local law enforcement agency of the local jurisdiction shall certify to the Attorney General of the United States that no disclosure contrary to this subparagraph has been made and that all forms and any record of the contents thereof have been destroyed as provided in this subparagraph.

Emphasis added. Obviously "rifles" are not "pistols, or revolvers", as per the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives itself, so this new reporting requirement does not fall within the bounds of the above clause. "But they could just add to the pre-existing law, right?" Not so much:

(g)(1)(A) Each licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, and licensed dealer shall maintain such records of importation, production, shipment, receipt, sale, or other disposition of firearms at his place of business for such period, and in such form, as the Attorney General may by regulations prescribe. Such importers, manufacturers, and dealers shall not be required to submit to the Attorney General reports and information with respect to such records and the contents thereof, except as expressly required by this section.

Unless the Department of Justice has changed the wording of the United States Code (something they are legally incapable of doing without an act of Congress), then this new "reporting" requirement is outside the bounds of what they are permitted to do… bounds set by the very laws they are sworn to uphold and protect.

And if the DoJ itself is not going to play by the rules… well…

All this said, there is some good news to be found in this disaster. First, the NRA is gearing up to engage in some legal action over this farcical request, as is the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Second, we now definitively know the kind of man Our Glorious President is – a coward, who is too afraid to route his authoritarian pipe dreams through the legally-required legislative actions necessary to turn them into law. Third and finally, even though this move by the DoJ was probably meant to be a distraction, its focus on the border between America and Mexico will only serve to increase the attention being given to the Gunwalker / Gunrunner / Operation Fast and Furious debacle that is currently plaguing the BATFE and Obama administration… which is only a good thing.

I would wonder what all the halfwits who crowed, "President Obama has never said anything about ‘gun control’ so all those stories spread by the NRA were lies… just LIES, I tell you!" are saying now, but you and I both already know that their adulation for him now will be… well… tingly.

12 comments to white house gun control initiative of 2011

  • “• A national electronic system designed to make background checks for handgun buyers simpler and faster, leaving an electronic paper trail”

    That’s worrisome… A)What’s wrong with NICS as used for handguns now and B) how is this not a prohibited registration scheme?

  • Art

    I would suggest the Obama White House Gun Control Initiative of 2011 is a bit wordy … Perhap “the Final Nail”? We’ve all put up with asses. We don’t need to tolerate pompous dictatorial asses. Send him packin’ me boys.

  • Heather

    I’m with LC. There’s no way that any electronic system is NOT, either above or below the board, a registration system.

  • @ LC Scotty: I was at something of a loss with “simpler and faster”, given how simple and fast (relatively speaking) it is now… but, yeah, “paper trail”? Specifically prohibited by law.

    @ Art: I probably should have explained this in the article, but that name was chosen with full malice aforethought:

    A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the regulatory changes will be introduced separately, without a large ceremony, and certainly not with a branded name that could turn into attack ads, such as “White House Gun Control Initiative of 2011.”

    @ Heather: Something tells me that is the whole point…

  • While I know that some of you consider Robert Farago to have unfortunate Fuddite tendencies* (which is why I’m not linking to his post on this subject), his Web site “The Truth About Guns” has also taken up the call to refer to this lawless, naked power-grab as “the White House Gun Control Initiative of 2011.”**

    As for me, I’m all in favor of tough sentencing of straw purchasers, so long as “sovereign immunity” cannot be invoked as a defense (i.e, BATFE [&RBF]*** agents ought not be immune from prosecution as persons aiding straw purchases). From what I’ve read, though, the girlfriend straw purchasers for regular felons are rarely prosecuted.

    The other two items on the White House Gun Control Initiative of 2011 clearly violate various enacted statutes (we need not agree that the statutes are constitutional to note that the Executive branch may not, on a whim, unilaterally violate Federal statutes, to the detriment of liberties guaranteed by the US Constitution). I look forward to hearing the legal reasoning behind a decision by Our Nero Zero’s willful violation of enacted law.

    * I tend to be a bit more charitable towards someone who chose to run Rhode Island’s “may-issue” gauntlet, viewing his residual views on topics such as training and storage requirements as unfortunate legacies of his upbringing, which ought to recede as he continues his journey to liberty. [Full disclosure: I became a fan of Mr. Farago’s writing while following his earlier Web presence as founder of The Truth About Cars.]

    ** As noted above, given concerns about how committed The Truth About Guns is to liberty, I shall refrain from directly linking to the site on this blog, until such time as our host deems TTAG as acceptably linkable.

    *** Say what you will about Robert Farago, his TTAG introduced me to the term “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires).”

  • […] Linoge and Jacob look at Obama’s gun control plan. […]

  • bob r

    There’s no way that any electronic system is NOT, either above or below the board, a registration system.

    Actually there is at least one electronic system that would accomplish the stated purpose of NICS but that is not a registration system: BIDS. It appears to be vastly preferable to NICS so I’m pretty sure that is not something Obama and crew would propose.

  • Braden Lynch

    Curious about BIDS. No time to research it right now. If it is a better system, maybe it would be nice to promote it to maintain the initiative and prevent a registration system from being snuck in.

  • @ AuricTech: If Farago had adopted any other argument than the logical equivalent of “the rape victim deserved it”, I would be in a significantly more charitble mood concerning him… However, since he did decide to go down that road, until such time as he publicly withdraws those posts and comprehensively apologizes for them, I will have nothing but disdain for the man. I appreciate his willingness to thumb his nose at the White House, as well as take the effort to procure a carry permit in a notoriously anti-rights state (though I have my doubts as to his motivations for doing so), but that is pretty much the end of it.

    The sheer hubris of the people repsonsible for this rule re-write astonishes me… The law is explicitly, inordinately clear, and they cannot very well plead ignorance, given that has been on the books for four decades, and is one of the main, guiding laws regarding firearm ownership. This is nothing more than a blatant attempt at abrogating the American way of government, and should be rightly treated as such.

    @ bob r: I, too, will have to research that…

  • More Thoughts On The Illegal ATF Multiple Reporting Requirement | Where Angels Fear To Tread

    […] the issue of the ATF mul­ti­ple long gun report­ing require­ment. As you may have heard [here, here, and here] the ATF is now dic­tat­ing that FFL deal­ers in the four bor­der states, […]

  • @ Linoge:
    Fair enough, and I see that you did, at any rate, give Farago a Churchillian “favourable mention […] in the House of Commons” for his attitude towards Our Nero Zero.

  • While the enemy of my enemy is solely my enemy’s enemy, nothing more, sometimes I can exploit their interactions… ;)