Yesterday, President Obama announced executive actions regarding gun control, and almost immediately, analysts and journalists began to point out the considerable legal and legislative hurdles his proposed measures face.
This story from CBS News says the centerpiece of Obama’s plan targets the so-called “gun-show loophole” by clarifying who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. That means people who are more hobbyists and collectors than gun dealers will have to start conducting background checks “and the administration is reiterating that prosecutors can go after those people.”
The story quotes Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the UCLA Law School, who said Obama’s actions are “on solid legal ground” because they merely clarify existing laws and restate what courts have already said: gun dealers are not defined by the number of firearms they sell, but rather by other factors that might signal they are running business rather than engaging in a hobby.
Chuck James, a former chief deputy attorney general in Virginia who now works in the firearms practice at Williams Mullen, told CBS that an individual could, for example, argue that undergoing a background check is a constitutional burden on their right to bear arms. From the story: “A person who wanted to sell a large inherited gun collection could object to having to obtain a license as a gun dealer. Or an auction house that is selling a firearm as part of an estate sale might say it is not in the business of selling firearms.”
The story says Obama’s administration is unilaterally attempting to push the expanded background checks, but other parts of his plan will require congressional approval.
For example, Obama called for 200 additional BATF agents, which Congress will have to approve. Also he will have to get their approval for $500 million to expand access to mental health care.
Lawmakers may not get around to even considering these measures until the end of September, when current government funding expires, or even later.
Obama’s previous attempts to push gun control haven’t fared well in the Republican-dominated Congress, and things don’t look much better for him in the House either.
“No matter what President Obama says, his word does not trump the Second Amendment,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan in a statement Tuesday. “We will conduct vigilant oversight. His executive order will no doubt be challenged in the courts. Ultimately, everything the president has done can be overturned by a Republican president, which is another reason we must win in November.”
The story says: On Monday, before the White House even unveiled the measures, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch warning her that he intends to use the power of the purse as an appropriator “to protect our Second Amendment rights.”
Will any of these measures do anything to prevent the mass shootings that have spurred them on? This story from the New York Times says no.
From the story: “But on one point, many people here seem to be in agreement: President Obama’s latest plan to expand background checks and law enforcement for some gun sales would do little to stop mass shootings of the kind that shattered (San Bernardino’s) sense of security.”
“Like many other county employees, Trish Munoz was personally affected by the murders here. She knew one of the victims of the massacre—and one of the attackers, Syed Rizwan Farook, who worked as a county health inspector.
“But outside a memorial service on Monday commemorating the shooting, Ms. Munoz, 44, scowled at the mention of Mr. Obama’s plan, which includes a requirement that anyone who makes a living selling firearms register as a licensed gun dealer and conduct background checks.
“‘It violates our constitutional rights,’ Ms. Munoz said. ‘And it distracts from what the real problems are.’ No gun laws could have stopped the attack, she said, and certainly not the ones the president is proposing.”
In the wake of the President’s announcement, stocks in gun companies like Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. “surged to fresh heights,” according to Forbes.com.
Ruger jumped 6.8% in Tuesday’s trading, hitting their highest level in a full year. S&W saw its stock surge more than 12% and reach its highest price since July 2007. It also helped that S&W announced Monday it will see record third quarter and full-year per-share profits and net sales.