Quote of the Day: Obama’s Uncertainty Principle Edition

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“From the White House’s standpoint, the lack of a clear standard (for who is “in the gun business”) would appear to be a feature rather than a flaw. It means that nobody is safe: Anyone who sells so much as one gun will have reason to fear prosecution. Some will no doubt be deterred . . . Of those who continue to sell without licenses, a few will be prosecuted. Some, even if acquitted, will have their lives ruined over a malum prohibitum offense.” – James Taranto in Best of the Web: Shooting Blanks [via wsj.com]

comments

  1. avatar James says:

    By whatever means necessary. President Zero may not be able to deal with all gun owners the way he’d prefer, but he is going to try to get a few and ruin them because they think different from him.

  2. avatar Big Jim says:

    It hasn’t passed yet, So people can still sell guns privately if it’s legal in their state to do so correct?

    1. There’s nothing to pass. There’s never been a clear standard regarding how many gun sales by an individual constitutes being “in the business.” He’s now tasking the ATF, through an executive order, with more strictly interpreting this non-standard, so it’s anyone’s guess.

      As the Attorney General said, “It can be as few as one or two depending upon the circumstances under which the person sells the gun.”

      http://freebeacon.com/issues/obama-executive-order-may-require-those-selling-even-a-single-firearm-become-licensed-dealers/

      1. It’s all political. Obama knows none of these EOs will hold up or solve any real problems.
        He is setting up the Republicans to lose support in the elections.
        He is giving the no information voter a piece of red meat.
        You will hear this in a exit poll: “I voted for Hillary even though I know about her emails and stuff and Bill is a creepy sex fiend and all, but the Republicans don’t care about kids getting gunned down so I can’t let them overturn everything Obama worked so hard to put in place to stop gun violence”.

      2. avatar SKP5885 says:

        Proposal: I would propose that the Congress pass a law which requires all private sellers who sell more than 10 firearms per year to perform background checks on all sales. There would be a 1 time exemption for any individual or estate in the process of liquidating a firearms collection. In exchange for this compromise all Suppressors, Silencers or other gun mufflers (hearing safety devices) should be delisted from the NFA and be considered title 1 firearms subject to a form 4473 and NICS background check. Furthermore all SBR’s, SBS’s and AOW’s are also delisted and subject to a form 4473 application and NICS background check (assuming you did not manufacture the item yourself). Lastly, as much as I would love to see all machine guns be delisted, these devices do function in a different manner than their semi-auto counterparts, and thus would remain on the NFA registry, however post 86 machine guns would now be opened up to private citizen transfer under existing NFA rules and requirements.

        This is the compromise that I think the left and right could likely get behind. They get something we get something (in my mind we get a little more than they get). I would gladly submit to a background check when purchasing a firearm if I knew that I could also go and acquire additional suppressors, SBR’s and SBS’s without jumping through the current hoops to acquire these items through ATF approval. I also would then be able to afford fully-automatic machine guns as current production guns would be available through the NFA process.

        Where am I going wrong outside of a perfect world of no NFA registry and no background checks? Is this a compromise that you would support?

        1. avatar Yellow Devil says:

          No compromise. Not because I don’t believe in the concept, but the Republicans has had a poor record thus far “Compromising” with the Democrats. We’ve already “compromised” too much thus far.

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          +1

          Compromising with the Left/Statists/Demoncrats/Evil means they say to us….”OK, we will give you this one point, then we talk about what next you must give up to make us go away.”

        3. avatar Defens says:

          No, I wouldn’t support that in the least. Here’s the rub – a “dealer” is in the business to sell guns to make a profit, as a livelihood. A hobbyist who sells guns is just working with his collection, making a swap or an opportune sale here or there.

          Sometimes, in the midst of a panic buying situation, non-dealers with a few extra guns laying around might be incentivized to sell a couple, or even a few, to make a buck – but they are still not “in the business.” That’s sort of a special case – if someone offered you a million bucks for your house and you took them up on the deal, does that make you a realtor?

          The rub with your proposal is that how is a gun hobbyist or enthusiast going to know in advance how many guns he’s going to sell in a year? Maybe you buy several rifles at a gun buy back, keep a couple, and sell some off to your buddies? Do that a couple of times and you’re over the arbitrary limit – oh, oh. What to do now, retroactively go do background checks on guns already sold? Can’t do that either. So – unless the limit is set arbitrarily high enough that a normal, non-dealer won’t cross that threshold, the consequence of a seemingly “okay” limit – say less than 25, is that everyone will have to do get a license and/or perform background checks, ’cause you can’t predict if you’ll go over the limit. Assuming that you give a s**t and actually follow the law.

        4. avatar SKP5885 says:

          @ Defens

          So it sounds like the fix is that all sales over 10 firearms per year would require a background check and not the first 10. This would then fix the risk of no knowing for sure if you are going to hit the 10 gun threshold. So once you it the threshold you may have to go to a dealer and run the transfer through the ffl and pay the $20-$30.

          I like it.

    2. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      What’s to pass? This isn’t a law. This is Obama ordering his ATF minions to crawl up your arse and use a looser interpretation of current law to make your/my life hell.

  3. avatar Kapeltam says:

    The whole “we’ll know it when we see it” approach is downright crap. It provides too much government interference to something they have no business interfering in.

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Bummer. Can’t read the article unless a subscription is purchased.
    But the gist is correct. Now all obeyme has to do is get things funded.

    1. Actually you can. Go to Google and enter ‘wsj.com shooting blanks’.

    2. avatar TXGale says:

      That is not going to happen. Even dems can’t afford to get on board with anti gun owner EO with funding. Watch any up for relection try to separate from an increasingly unpopular president.

  5. avatar Binder says:

    Why is everyone reading so much into the presidents statement. If someone purchases a firearm ONLY for resale to another they are a dealer under the law. No matter if it is one or 100. Yes it is hard to prove someone’s intention, but you would be surprised how stupid people can be about self incrimination when talking to police. Here is a good tip, don’t talk to them. Point out evidence, point out witnesses and that’s it. The only reason you even bother with those two is most cops are not good investigators. Why, because most criminals incriminate themselves. Every cop will always ask you “do you know why I pulled you over”. That’s because most people will admit what they did.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      People that bought a Colt Python 20 years ago for $450, might try to sell today for market value $2000+, that is a nice profit. So are you a dealer? This is why people are angry.

      1. avatar BLAMMO says:

        Anybody who would sell their Colt Python is clearly a mental defective.

      2. avatar Joseph says:

        The first time I ever saw a Colt Python was in 1971, brand new at the LGS for $175.00. Wish I could have bought a dozen of them.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          It’s why I now tell people to “buy quality.” There’s so little of it being made in the firearms market anymore, that it will stand out in 20 years without a problem.

          I’m kicking myself for not buying a truckload of S&W police revolvers turned in in the 90’s. I thought “Feh. There’s nothing special about a blued K/L frame.”

          How wrong I was.

        2. avatar AnyMouse says:

          Doesn’t that say a lot about inflation ?

      3. avatar navillus says:

        Short answer is ‘no’- I’m no expert, but I can’t see where Obama really changed very much regarding private sales with his EO.
        ATF- “In some cases, prices reflect appreciation in actual market value resulting from having held a firearm as part of a collection, or reflect a profit intended to be used to acquire another firearm as part of a collection. As a result, the fact that a transaction results in a profit for the seller is not always determinative.”

        Just because a gun sale results in a profit does not automatically make you a dealer.
        OTOH, I would definitely avoid doing things that make you “walk like a duck & talk like a duck” in gun dealer terms- namely, printing business cards that say “Jeff the Griz Gun Sales”, or having a website that lists a bunch of your guns for sale, or accepting credit cards for a gun sale- you want to look like a regular Joe Six-pack who happens to have a gun to sell. I would definitely check the drivers license of the guy buying the gun to make sure he is from my state & refuse to sell if my Spidey sense told me he was bad news.

    2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

      Binder, maybe it’s also because the .gov has NO FREAKING BUSINESS inserting it’s nose into the private sale of privately owned property by private, free citizens. It’s not even really about guns per se.

      Don’t you get that? No, I don’t think you do. I think you are A-Ok with this stuff because Statism has been normalized and rendered ‘acceptable.’ Not all of us accept it, however.

      So, rather than tell us what we should be thinking, try looking at it from our (broader) POV. This is crap, crap, crap and more crap. Defending it as righteous or even just “okay” is crap, too.

    3. avatar Mecha75 says:

      So I buy a gun, I take to the range and I realize that I don’t like it. So I go to the next gun show and sell it to get my money back. Am i a dealer? no. I am not. I am not even a straw purchaser.

      P.S. Most of the time, the gun dealers do not let you shoot the gun you are buying. you may be able to shoot a heavily used and rarely cleaned RENTAL of the same model. so the only way to find out if you like it is to buy it and then shoot it.

      1. avatar Justin A says:

        I’ve got to agree with you. I’ve purchased firearms that looked great on paper and felt good at the store but failed to preform at the range. I normally give them a few range trips with different ammo but if the firearm just doesn’t work for me then I sell it.
        I normally take it to a local gun store and consign it but that’s only because I want store credit more than I want the cash…… got to fill the hole in the safe after all.

        Respectfully Submitted

      2. avatar 2Asux says:

        You may indeed be a dealer….depending on “other factors” (government’s definition of that is whatever they say it is).

    4. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

      I bet you got an “A” in your high school Civics class, huh? That’s a lovely recitation of a criminal investigation.

      I’m also guessing you’ve never lived in or spent any serious time in foreign countries, outside of tourism venues, too? That’s a grossly naive understanding of the real world intersection of law and politics, so prevalent elsewhere in the world.

      The point isn’t to prove who really violated the law. The point certainly isn’t to promote public safety in any tangible manner. This initiative’s purpose is purely intimidation. It’s intended to sow uncertainty among the public as to what innocuous and formely routine activities now suddenly could constitute a serious crime.

      Where they cannot infringe freedom through legislative consensus, they do through executive fiat. Where they cannot compel via direct force, they induce indirectly. For example, they cannot abolish your freedom of speech outright. However, they can create a counterculture of hate speech, speech codes and political correctness to cultivate self-censorship.

      Likewise, unable to expropriate our second amendment rights directly and conjointly, without risking popular uprising, they instead foster this environment of doubt, causing people to curtail exercise of their rights themselves. That’s disquieting.

      What you regard as merely hot air from a lame duck president, others rightly regard as a chill wind from a nascent tyrant.

      1. avatar 2Asux says:

        ^ Gets it !

    5. avatar Chip Bennett says:

      That’s not actually what the statute says. It seems many people should probably actually read the statute in question.

      “One or two guns” simply cannot meet the statutory requirement of being considered “in the business.”

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        Exactly. That’s a point which you, your lawyer(s), and easily one hundred thousand of your favorite dollars can devote the next couple of years arguing.

        Will you be victorious? Probably. Will you be Pyrrhic victorious? Definitely.

        Or not. You can forfeit your rights and just elect to transact non-commercial gun sales at greater expense and zero privacy through an FFL, or not at all.

        See how that works? Just as winning elections has less to do with who casts the votes than with who counts the votes, laws have less to do with who interprets them than with who enforces them.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          People, people, people. Relax. Hillary will end this confusion for all of us. A ban on any semi-automatic firearm with a pistol grip (any semi-automatic firearm). Mandatory gun buy back. This will all be over by the end of her third term.

      2. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Yet we have note of the case of a single gun sale triggering punishment for not being an FFL.

        1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

          Agreed. Another thing to keep in mind is the totality of the case. Remember in the 1990s after California passed their Three Strikes law? The media went hysterical over cases of someone getting “25 years to life in prison for stealing a slice of pizza.” Well.

          In that case, the pizza thief drunkenly snatched a slice from some kids. He had FIVE prior felony convictions for such things as robbery and car theft. He was already over the three strikes, anyway, when his new theft counted as a felony because he’s already a felon. So it’s not as simple as 25 to life, just for stealing a slice.

          With gun sales, not every murky sale involves an ATF team breaking down your door. There’s such a thing as an “Unlicensed Dealing Warning Letter.” In gray areas, you could get this warning. Down the road, you may get busted for dealing without a license, but it could be within the larger context of multiple “Ooops….you caught me in *another* grey area….” incidents where the guy’s pushing his luck trying to skirt the law….again.

          Now, I don’t believe in licenses in the first place. However, someone repeatedly running into the ATF and being warned, who’s dealing guns for a livelihood, probably is up to no good. There’s probably a reason he doesn’t want ATF inspections of his inventory and no records of his sales. Could be “on principle”, but is more likely selling to criminals and prohibited possessors. That last gun or two sale may just be what put him over the top and got him arrested.

  6. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Exactly all the talk leading up to the “in the business of” EO was largely centered around whether he would set the level at modest number like 20 or even as low as 10 guns sold per year or whether he would go for broke and set it at something like 5 or even just 1. The problem of course is that if he goes high most people would just sell one less than the max and otherwise continue as they always have. If he set it too low he increases the chance of a legal challenge.

    By being vague he gets to have the legal security of setting a high limit because the EO basically just asked the ATF to put a little more effort into enforcement of the existing law, but he gets some of the benefit of ensnaring people in an arbitrarily low limit. It’s like IRS targeting fiasco, he never (publicly at least) told anyone to specifically target conservative groups. However, he made it very clear what he thought of them, that they were the enemy and that any extra “attention” paid to their tax exempt status couldn’t be a bad thing, and then left it up to his goons to interpret what he really meant. This is no different.

  7. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

    I will admit I do not have $250,000 or 5 years of my life to give to Obama’s goons.

  8. avatar 2Asux says:

    Is this any different from having a suspect surrounded by 5 cops, all screaming conflicting commands, then shooting the suspect for doing nothing ?

    Happened already.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Yes, because that is a bad situation affecting 1 very unfortunate person at a time. This vague interpretation is putting all gun owners in a tight spot if we want to sell a firearm. FLAME DELETED

      1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

        Wow TTAG thanks for the flame deleted, my first I am aware of, considering how mild that was.

        1. avatar Mecha75 says:

          They FLAME DELETE because they care.

        2. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

          They FLAME DELETE because they CAN

          FIFYA

        3. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Wow. I didn’t even think about his note being a “flame”…and it was directed at me !

      2. avatar 2Asux says:

        You jump to conclusions….but so do many here.

        2Asux for those who oppose it.

        The vagueness of the determination of who is a gun dealer is designed to freeze people in place, prevent future personal gun sales, dry-up the market for used guns, have gun owners do nothing. Just like the example I cited. Hopefully, someone trying to work in a confusing environment will not be shot for doing nothing.

        Was making the point that confusion resulting in a desired outcome is a specialty for government, sometimes with near-deadly consequences (yes, five cops fired on a suspect sitting-up in bed, frozen in place by conflicting commands; 16 hits)

    2. avatar Mecha75 says:

      that is a purely a failure in police training issue. someone should be the one to take command of the situation and it should be the first officer to respond until a supervisor is on the scene.

      1. avatar 2Asux says:

        Actually….uuuhh, no.

        Conflicting commands ARE a part of normal operations. Confusing the victim (uuhhh, suspect) into inaction is the intent. Cops are taught to take advantage of the fact that people mostly/often just freeze in place while the brain tries to evaluate how to comply with the confusion of commands. It is a safety measure for the cops.

  9. avatar Rokurota says:

    Sell face-to-face to residents of your state. No record except the one you choose to keep.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      Or they keep. Or a ATF undercover, or in states with unconstitutional handgun registration…

      1. avatar Rokurota says:

        There is that, but I am just a wee bit tired of living in fear of my own government. If the ATF decides they need to sting parking lot sales between law-abiding gun owners, we are truly lost as a nation.

        1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

          And the point of the 2A was so the Government would fear the people!

        2. avatar JR_in_NC says:

          “If the ATF decides they need to sting parking lot sales between law-abiding gun owners, we are truly lost as a nation.”

          Ever read up on the history how Randy Weaver got on the radar of the feds? THEY approached HIM and “encouraged” him to be a CI against some people he did not even know.

          He declined. Just kind of wanted to live his life in his little part of Idaho. The rest, as they say, is history.

          If you think the ATF is not now stinging parking lots, or at least that there is a WHOLE BOATLOAD of people wanting them to, you have not been paying attention for the past 100+ years or so.

        3. avatar Rokurota says:

          Fortunately, the ATF is too undermanned to sting every single FTF gun sale. This is why we prefer small government.

          At this point, the general opinion is that a regular one-off FTF sale will not make you a dealer. The ATF may be trolling Armslist and local gun boards, but like I said, I am tired of threats and fear. If I have a gun to sell, I’m going to damn well do it. If the ATF decides to sting me, I will sue for redress. If no one is willing to stand up and fight in the courts, this kind of crap will go unchecked.

        4. avatar Sam I Am says:

          Which is the entire intent of government ! Who among us will volunteer to challenge the government ? Who among us will volunteer to risk everything doing so ? By what evidence do we rely on such person ?

        5. avatar 2Asux says:

          Hhhhmmm, might be a bit late to the party. Consider Waco. What was the purported crime ? Children living in a compound where guns were present. Pretty much set the precedent for ATF doing whatever it wanted. Followed by the FBI “shoot-out” at Ruby Ridge.

          We’ve been “lost” for quite some time.

      2. avatar Sam I Am says:

        Government is running a long con, here. The intent of regulations is to either end a behavior, or set-up circumstances to punish someone who believes they can outsmart the feds. Works like this:

        – Make a behavior illegal
        – Make as many people as possible potentially guilty of violating rules against a behavior
        – Wait for the end-runs to be posted, discussed, published, attempted
        – Grab a violator or two as examples (“little people”, because there are more of them)
        – Maximum punishment

        How does this apply to personal sales?

        – Make it near-illegal to conduct personal gun sales
        – Wait for people to scheme the “end runs”
        – Attempt to trace any gun used in a crime (or at least a well-publicized crime)
        – Identify the original owner, and the fact that owner no longer has possession (hopefully years later)
        – Demand the owner produce paperwork showing: a)due diligence about background of buyer; b) “other factors” that would stand-up in court; c) prove the original seller was “in the business” (only need one sale); d) show the seller did not have dealer license (courts will not excuse the original owner just because ATF will not issue an FFL to a person for only one gun sale)
        – Disseminate victory to widest audience
        – Let fear among the “little people” do its thing
        – Done and done

  10. avatar Jack Clancy says:

    One word – overreach!

  11. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    Ambiguity in any law or regulation is always written purposefully, it is intended to give carte blanche to the .gov, so agencies and/or agents can enforce it with impunity. Thereby, giving any .gov agency and/or agent the justification to initiate force at will.

    Not that .gov actually “needs” justification to initiate force at will; the ends will always justify the means.

  12. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    I honestly don’t think the ATF has the resources to worry about the typical gun enthusiast buying and selling for fun and the occasional profit.

    What I do wonder about is the more affluent collectors who bought full-auto rifles based on the speculation that, since the supply is limited, they will appreciate in value. When they sell them the buyer will apply for a tax stamp, triggering red flags at the ATF and an “investigation” will ensue.

    1. avatar Jeff the Griz says:

      I don’t believe the ATF will have the man power to catch too many private sellers, but it only takes a handful to be made EXAMPLES of.

    2. avatar Mecha75 says:

      It is all smoke and mirrors. You are right that the ATF would not be going after everyone. It would be used as an additional tack on to try and force a plea agreement of the victim/criminal.

    3. avatar Sam I Am says:

      You do not understand how government works/thinks.

      If careers can be made, ATF will degrade performance of other responsibilities in order to have sufficient resources to apply to that which will likely result in promotions.

      It is not wise to assume government agencies staff to execute all responsibilities, across the board. They are always short of “what they need”, so they must target resources at the points of greatest pain (I mean, points of greatest reward for decision-makers),

  13. avatar tdiianva (Now in Wisconsin) says:

    Vagueness may be a feature to Obama but not on court. Judges, even liberal ones, look askance at vague laws and regulations. Even the judges in the 9th Circuit will toss a case against the one gun sale.

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Vague or poorly written laws are often purposefully constructed to “let the courts sort it out.” That’s what “case law” is. It’s some judge making an assumption of legislative intent, and inventing a definition of something that should have been written in the statute.

      The more vague the statute, the more power a judge has to interpret it as he sees fit.

    2. avatar John says:

      But to get so far as to have your case thrown out, the hapless hobbyist will have spent thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and who knows how much time; set against the .govs limitless ability to abuse our money and resources. All to make an example of someone doing no harm.

      Do you want to be exonerated in court? I don’t. I want to be left alone!

      All any of these laws do is set up opportunities to harass the peaceable and law abiding and waste our money while doing it. Even if you’re not philosophically opposed to background checks, per se, they are of absolutely no benefit.

      1. avatar 2Asux says:

        Agree. We already have a federal court ruling that infringing a clearly worded enumerated right in order to make a community “feel safer” is permissible. It would be/is folly to assume courts will not allow even the wildest government interpretation of a vague law to prevail at trial. Might not. Not worth the risk.

        Seriously curious as tho which case(s) the 9th dismissed because the government relied on a law/regulation that was too vague…regarding gun ownership or sale.

  14. avatar Chip Bennett says:

    Can we please stop with the “so much as one gun” malarkey? It is nothing but acare tactics, because it is explicitly contradicted by the relevant statute.

    1. avatar Dirk Diggler says:

      thank you. and even the most ardent anti-gun federal prosecutor is not gonna prosecute a case when the statute is so damn specific about the term at issue. . . . .

      1. avatar AnyMouse says:

        you forget that lawyers are involved. it is what they do. think up ways to get around all the laws.

  15. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Sure guys-more vague is more vague. I guess if I want to sell my guns I better sell to a pawn shop for a loss. Oh and I can’t sell shite without a FOID check in Illinois. And I’ve been a dealer for many years(but not really guns). It’s going to a fun future few years.

  16. avatar Dan H. says:

    Pardon the metaphor, but this is another example in something this administration has specialized in as part of undermining the rule of law — the rape of legal certainty. If law is to matter and be respected and provide the basis of a civil society, it has to be knowable, predictable, and consistent. Secret and hidden laws that can be enforced capriciously are anathema to the very idea of a free society, let alone the individual liberties of those in it. Yes, the notion that people may be frightened out of selling even one gun privately is the point and purpose. But we’ll also see a lot of bills of sale in people’s possession dated for November-December of 2015 for a long time.

  17. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    Yep. The ambiguity is a feature, not a bug. It’s just a way to legislation by other means, when they can’t get their way through, you know, making actual law.

  18. avatar DaProf says:

    The way I see it then is to make a gift of the firearm and then whoever receives the firearm can give a gift back.

    Sort of the way that “loans” are conducted under Sharia law. And we know that Obama doesn’t have a problem with that, so ….

  19. avatar JD says:

    From the way Obama and party talk you would think they hand out an FFL to anyone with the license fee and desire. Truth couldn’t be further from it. From the time we applied to having an actual license in hand took almost 6 months. We had to prove without a doubt we were planning on being a firearms dealer. We had to show how we planned to profit, project how much we intended to make, prove we owned or had permission to use the property for the intended purpose, get zoning approval, get a letter from zoning that specifically stated we could assemble and disassemble firearms. (Manufacture) Get a city license, get a state tax ID, provide fingerprints and photos. Prove that nobody around is objected, and I’m sure I missed a few items here. Point is 99.9% of those who just want to sell and trade guns as a hobby or do only shows will be told they don’t qualify for a licence to deal firearms. So how can you be charged for dealing without a license if getting the license is next to impossible?

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