A few days ago, Nick chronicled the various gun control proposals that Hillary Clinton released as part of her presidential campaign, explaining very thoroughly why whoever ghost-wrote these proposals needed to extract their heads from their nether regions, metaphorically-speaking. (You should go read it, if you haven’t yet.) As it turns out, even the Obama Administration had to conceded that Hillary’s proposals won’t fly . . .
When Hillary Clinton rolled out a series of new gun control proposals this week, one of the most newsworthy and controversial ideas she put forth was a vow to use executive action as president to fix [sic] the background check system if Congress refused to act.
But the Obama administration has already taken a long, internal look at the same executive-action proposal Clinton has promised to undertake, and has doubts over whether it can be made to work in practical terms, according to current and former senior administration officials…. [I]t turns out that this proposal may be harder to actually implement than it might seem….
Current law requires those who are “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to get a federal firearms license — and to conduct background checks on buyers. Private sellers don’t need to conduct such checks. Gun control advocates have argued that administrative rules defining what that phrase means are too vague, allowing many private sellers who are actually selling guns as a quasi-business to do so without running checks on buyers. They argue that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms could tighten this up with a rule that narrows the definition of who is “engaged in the business.”
The Obama administration looked at this idea, officials tell me, studying whether “engaged in the business” could be defined with, say, a threshold number of guns sold — say, 50 or 100 per year. If this were done, those who identify as private sellers (and sell without background checks) but sell that many guns could no longer do so without getting a license and performing background checks.
But the idea quickly presented complications. One former administration official involved in these discussions tells me that some officials worried it would present new and unforeseen enforcement problems. One senior administration official says some worried internally that defining a commercial seller through a hard sales threshold — as opposed to, say, leaving it to the discretion of law enforcement to determine who is a commercial seller — could be subject to legal challenge and could end up sweeping in people selling guns who clearly were not engaged in it as a long term business. This could create untold logistical — not to say political — difficulties. [And, hey, maybe some legal issues or something? – JKP]
“It was very clear that it was way more complicated than the other stuff being looked at,” the senior administration official tells me….
Look, Mrs. Clinton, when even the ardently anti-gun Obama Administration is telegraphing that your gun control proposals are too extreme politically – and possibly illegal to boot – that’s probably a good indication that you’ve been coloring outside the lines a bit too much. Maybe throttle it back a little bit, and spend some time getting ready for that debate with Joe Biden, eh?
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.