Last January President Obama issued a 56-page executive order requiring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to tighten regulation on individuals “engaged in the business of selling firearms,” a mandate euphemistically referred to as closing the “gun show loophole.”
Presented under the banner of “common sense,” the stated intent is to require more people to obtain federal firearms licenses (FFLs) — hence obtain ATF background checks on their purchasers prior to engaging in gun sale transactions.
Although the order appears to simply reiterate a current requirement that firearms dealers must register with ATF, a very slippery slope to gun owner hell is muddied by lack of definition regarding exactly who must comply.
While noting that the “quantity and frequency of sales” will be considered, it establishes an open precedent for the ATF and future political regimes to tighten those restrictions over time until virtually all private sales and trades among unregistered collectors and individuals are banned.
Don’t imagine that this outcome is but a remote possibility.
In 1972 an unlicensed hobbyist was prosecuted with his entire collection confiscated for selling three firearms over a two-year period under an interpretation of a since-reversed 1968 Gun Control Act.
Politically-connected gun control groups adopted a mantra during the 1990s that “kitchen table gun dealers” who lacked store front enterprises constituted a safety hazard.
The Clinton administration enthusiastically responded by ordering ATF to require that all commercial firearms dealers eligible to obtain FFLs must maintain physical storefront operations.
The anti-gun Violence Policy Center celebrated this triumph, reporting that by 2007 the number of licensed FFL dealers had dropped 79 percent since 1994.
According to ATF that population has now increased to approximately 140,000 FFL dealers, about half the number that existed before the 1993 law.
President Obama’s new edict ordains that storefronts no longer represent an essential FFL requirement. Reverting back to policies of the 1970s, the ATF guidance rules now proclaim “it does not matter if sales are conducted out of your home, at gun shows, flea markets, through the Internet, or by other means.”
The number of “dealer” sales may not matter much either. As Fordham University law professor Nicholas Johnson notes in the Wall Street Journal, “courts have withheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold.”
A Hillary Clinton administration would certainly emulate or exceed her husband’s anti-gun policy. When asked during an October 2015 New Hampshire town hall meeting why the American government couldn’t confiscate all handguns just as Australia did, she replied, “I think it would be worth considering that at a national level if it could be arranged.”
Testifying before Congress in 1993 Hillary advocated imposing a $2,500 FFL license fee on all sellers. Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist observed on Newsmax TV that such a penalty would add between $400 and $500 per gun purchase for the more than 13 million citizens who since then have elected to obtain concealed carry licenses for self-protection.
Hillary claims to support Second Amendment gun ownership rights . . . provided that the Supreme Court agrees with her particular interpretation. As reported in a leaked audio tape obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, she said: “And here again, the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment . . . And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
Although she didn’t specify which Supreme Court case she took issue with, it is broadly assumed that she was referring to the landmark 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found the handgun ban in Washington, D.C. to be unconstitutional.
Effective enforcement of an Obama or Clinton tightening of private gun sales background checks will impose costly ATF monitoring and paperwork, requiring substantially increased agency hiring and funding; altogether unlikely prospects so long as Republicans control the House Appropriations Committee.
However, a shift to a Democratically-controlled Congress would conjure a very different story.
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., recently spoke at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence vowing that “The Brady Bill was step one . . . but it was always incomplete. We need to close the loopholes that still remain in the background check system and finish the job that Jim and Sarah Brady started so many years ago.”
Far worse, that “job” the Brady’s and others in the anti-gun lobby started will get a huge boost if 2016 White House and Congressional elections tilt majority Supreme Court influence to the left.
Replacing the late constitutional champion Justice Scalia with another revisionist constitutional pick will most undoubtedly close a firearms loophole.
Doing so will tighten a fatal noose around our Second Amendment rights.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA) and the graduate program in space architecture. He is the author of “Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom”(2015) and “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax” (2012). Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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