President Obama mulling expanding gun background checks through executive action

His royal highness, King Barack I is thinking of issuing a decree to his subjects, ordering more background checks for those wishing to purchase a firearm.

This backdoor gun control would be accomplished by forcing high volume gun dealers to obtain a license to sell guns from the ATF - one of the requirements being to perform background checks on purchasers.

Washington Post:

Under the proposed rule change, dealers who exceed a certain number of sales each year would be required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers.

As the president heads to Roseburg, Ore., on Friday to comfort the survivors and families of those killed in last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, the political calculus around his most vexing domestic policy issue is shifting once again.

After the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., claimed the lives of 20 students and six staff members, Obama asked Vice President Biden to devise a list of policy proposals in response, and on Jan. 26, 2013, the president announced 23 executive actionsranging from restarting federal research into the causes of gun violence to providing parity for mental health coverage under private insurance plans. He pushed for legislation mandating universal background checks on gun sales, an effort that failed in the Senate in April 2013. In August that year, Obama closed two gun-sale loopholes through executive authority, subjecting gun purchases by corporations and trusts to background checks and banning almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities.

In the wake of last week’s tragedy, Obama said he had asked his team “to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

“We are hopeful we can find a way to do this,” said one senior administration official, who noted that lawyers were still working through details to ensure that the rule could pass legal muster. “It’s a lot more clear today than it was a year ago how to work this out.”

The administration has been thinking about pulling the trigger on this rule for a couple of years, but have been advised against it by DoJ lawyers and the ATF. The ATF says it would be next to impossible to enforce while the DoJ lawyers worry that the executive order could be successfully challenged in court. 

Indeed, it sounds like the new rules would be legally problematic: 

The proposed executive action aims to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year. The current federal statute dictates that those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license — and, therefore, conduct background checks — but exempts anyone “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.”

White House officials drafted the proposal in late 2013 to apply to those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually, after Congress had rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks more broadly to private sellers. While the White House Office of Legal Counsel and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. initially concluded the regulation was legally defensible, according to several individuals involved in the discussions, some federal lawyers remained concerned that setting an arbitrary numerical threshold could leave the rule vulnerable to a challenge.

Obviously, the rule would hit smaller gun shops very hard. Setting up the laborious process of doing background checks on millions of people every year would be ruinous to small businesses and make purchasing a firearm unnecessarily complicated.

But because our lazy president refuses to do the hard work necessary to get his program through Congress, he finds it far more convenient to simply pretend that Congress doesn't exist and he can rule by royal decree. 

No one is surprised anymore about the president's end runs around the Constitution. But in this case, a successful court challenge could be the result. As with the president's immigration executive orders, there are still some courts in the land willing to stand up to the executive branch and prevent Obama's wild overreach.

His royal highness, King Barack I is thinking of issuing a decree to his subjects, ordering more background checks for those wishing to purchase a firearm.

This backdoor gun control would be accomplished by forcing high volume gun dealers to obtain a license to sell guns from the ATF - one of the requirements being to perform background checks on purchasers.

Washington Post:

Under the proposed rule change, dealers who exceed a certain number of sales each year would be required to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers.

As the president heads to Roseburg, Ore., on Friday to comfort the survivors and families of those killed in last week’s mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, the political calculus around his most vexing domestic policy issue is shifting once again.

After the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., claimed the lives of 20 students and six staff members, Obama asked Vice President Biden to devise a list of policy proposals in response, and on Jan. 26, 2013, the president announced 23 executive actionsranging from restarting federal research into the causes of gun violence to providing parity for mental health coverage under private insurance plans. He pushed for legislation mandating universal background checks on gun sales, an effort that failed in the Senate in April 2013. In August that year, Obama closed two gun-sale loopholes through executive authority, subjecting gun purchases by corporations and trusts to background checks and banning almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities.

In the wake of last week’s tragedy, Obama said he had asked his team “to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”

“We are hopeful we can find a way to do this,” said one senior administration official, who noted that lawyers were still working through details to ensure that the rule could pass legal muster. “It’s a lot more clear today than it was a year ago how to work this out.”

The administration has been thinking about pulling the trigger on this rule for a couple of years, but have been advised against it by DoJ lawyers and the ATF. The ATF says it would be next to impossible to enforce while the DoJ lawyers worry that the executive order could be successfully challenged in court. 

Indeed, it sounds like the new rules would be legally problematic: 

The proposed executive action aims to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year. The current federal statute dictates that those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license — and, therefore, conduct background checks — but exempts anyone “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.”

White House officials drafted the proposal in late 2013 to apply to those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually, after Congress had rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks more broadly to private sellers. While the White House Office of Legal Counsel and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. initially concluded the regulation was legally defensible, according to several individuals involved in the discussions, some federal lawyers remained concerned that setting an arbitrary numerical threshold could leave the rule vulnerable to a challenge.

Obviously, the rule would hit smaller gun shops very hard. Setting up the laborious process of doing background checks on millions of people every year would be ruinous to small businesses and make purchasing a firearm unnecessarily complicated.

But because our lazy president refuses to do the hard work necessary to get his program through Congress, he finds it far more convenient to simply pretend that Congress doesn't exist and he can rule by royal decree. 

No one is surprised anymore about the president's end runs around the Constitution. But in this case, a successful court challenge could be the result. As with the president's immigration executive orders, there are still some courts in the land willing to stand up to the executive branch and prevent Obama's wild overreach.