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January 05, 2016

Barack Obama's Executive Order on Guns Is Partly Defensible, Partly Alarming, and Partly... Helpful?

The strangest part first: Bob Owens has looked at the order and finds, as regards firearms purchased under the terms of the National Firearms Act, which covers "any other weapon" besides the standard ones (sawed off shotguns and machine guns, usually), Obama's EO features both a harassment and an actual reform to the law.

The harassment part comes with a fingerprint requirement for weapons purchased through a trust -- apparently trusts and groups buy these weapons, and trusts and groups have no fingerprint of their own, so that is a harassment.

The reform part comes in that the new order strikes the requirement of getting a community local law-enforcement officer to sign off on any purchase of such a weapon. Anti-gun local cops had routinely refused to sign off on such purchases, even if the purchases were sought by otherwise qualified and law-abiding people. The new EO gets rid of that requirement, for reasons I can only imagine are pure incompetence on Obama's part (that is, he couldn't possibly intend to harass gun-owners less).

Two parts of his EO are common sense, increasing the number of FBI staff on the background-check detail, and a request to increase funds for mental health, to the tune of $500 million. Both of those measures are responsive to conservative cries of why don't you actually do a better job utilizing the law and authority you already have? and why don't you do a better job trying to keep dangerous people away from guns?

The last part is the touchy one. One could say that, on its surface, it appears unobjectionable. The law says that anyone "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must conduct background checks and get a federal firearms licence. The new "guidance" offered by Obama states that it doesn't matter in what venue you conduct such a business, be it a brick-and-mortar storefront or online, or from the back of a van I suppose, but if you are indeed "engaged in the business" of selling firearms in whatever mode, you're engaged in the business, and subject to the law's requirements of background checks and licensing.

On paper, this seems like an okey-dokey makes-sense sort of thing; but the thing with Obama is, he's a sneaky, obvious, incompetent liar, whose favorite mode of political travel is a poorly-disguised Trojan Horse.

Remember, if you like your plan you can keep your plan. And I suppose: If you like your right to sell guns occasionally as a hobbyist, you can keep your right to sell guns occasionally as a hobbyist.

So we'll see on that one. As stated, I imagine that provision will be upheld as legitimate by the courts; but if he begins using it as a pretext to start imposing, once again, Obama Martial Law, then the courts might have a problem with the order as actually applied.

But overall, I'd say, at least for the moment, for the first time of the Obama presidency, things aren't as bad as they might have been.

The typical pattern of the Obama years is that everything is always worse than you thought they would be. So I guess this is atypical.

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posted by Ace at 11:52 AM

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