Obama's last gasp effort at gun control

The Department of Justice is getting ready to issue up to a dozen new regulations directly assaulting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.

The regulations represent a final effort by the Obama administration to impose restrictions on gun ownership before the president leaves office in 2016.

The Hill:

The regulations range from new restrictions on high-powered pistols to gun storage requirements. Chief among them is a renewed effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable or have been convicted of domestic abuse.

Gun safety advocates have been calling for such reforms since the Sandy Hook school shooting nearly three years ago in Newtown, Conn. They say keeping guns away from dangerous people is of primary importance.

But the gun lobby contends that such a sweeping ban would unfairly root out a number of prospective gun owners who are not a danger to society.

“It’s clear President Obama is beginning his final assault on our Second Amendment rights by forcing his anti-gun agenda on honest law-abiding citizens through executive force,” said Luke O’Dell, vice president of political affairs at the National Association for Gun Rights.

The Justice Department plans to issue new rules expanding criteria for people who do not qualify for gun ownership, according to the recently released Unified Agenda, which is a list of rules that federal agencies are developing.

Some of the rules come in response to President Obama’s call to reduce gun violence in the wake of Sandy Hook. He issued 23 executive actions shortly after the shooting aimed at keeping guns away from dangerous people, and some of those items remain incomplete. 

“If America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown,” Obama said at the time.

“We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he added.

Gun control groups have rallied around Obama’s call to action, zeroing in on polices that would keep guns away from the mentally ill and domestic abusers.

Congressional efforts to expand background checks and keep guns away from dangerous people have failed in recent years, but the legislative defeats won’t stop the Justice Department from regulating.

The Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is looking to revive a rule proposed way back in 1998 that would block domestic abusers from owning guns.

As proposed, the regulation makes it illegal for some who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to own a gun.

We'll have to wait for the rules to be published for comment before we know what exactly the government means by "high powered pistols." There are sport handguns with a high muzzle velocity, but they are used mostly in competition. The real fear is that the government will decree some popular handguns "high powered" and seek to regulate them out of existence.

The rule that would prevent people who have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic abuse from buying a gun is being opposed on the basis that many domestic abuse cases do not involve the kind of spousal or child abuse that would disqualify someone from owning  a gun. 

The ATF plans to finalize the rule by November, according to the Unified Agenda.
But gun rights advocates are concerned the Obama administration will use this rule to unfairly target certain gun owners.

“That could be a person who spanked his kid, or yelled at his wife, or slapped her husband,” warned Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for the Gun Owners of America.

Most gun storage regulations are plain common sense requirements that responsible gun owners already practice. But the government could make those regulations so onerous that having a gun for home defense would become problematic.

Some of these new regulations will be in court for years, so the president isn't likely to see many of them implemented. Indeed, if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, it's likely the worst of them will be withdrawn anyway. But before Obama bows out, his efforts to circumvent Congress again and issue decrees that restrict gun rights will cost Second Amendment advocates a ton of money to fight them.