By Lee Williams
Senators Chris Murphy, (D-Conn.), and John Cornyn, (R-Texas), have met in secret recently – behind closed doors – to negotiate a way to expand federal background checks.
Citing the 2019 mass murder that killed eight people and wounded 25 near Odessa, Texas, Cornyn believes the deaths could have been avoided if the killer had undergone a background check before obtaining his home-built AR, which he purchased through a private sale.
Cornyn, much to the dismay of the gun community, says he now wants to clarify exactly who has to register as a Federal Firearms Licensee, or FFL, and therefore be legally required to conduct background checks of all firearms purchasers.
“We need to clear that up,” Cornyn told NBC News. “That, by definition, will make more people get background checks because all federal firearms licensees have to do background checks.”
In other words, if more people were forced to register as FFLs, there would be more background checks and therefore less crime, Murphy and Cornyn believe. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Obama tried it just a few years ago.
But who is responsible for reducing the FFL ranks from a high of more than 250,000 licensed gun dealers in 1994 to just 55,000 10 years later?
What caused today’s FFL shortage?
That, friends, is Bill Clinton’s fault. And Democrats have been tinkering with the FFL system ever since.
Clinton’s first war on guns
For more than three decades before Clinton took office, a Federal Firearms License cost around $30. Applicants had to meet the same standards as a firearm purchaser – they could not be a prohibited person.
Clinton changed all that.
He jacked up the cost of a license, and he added more regulations and oversight via the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and (now) Explosives.
The ATF loved the new rules…and the lighter workload. They had been complaining for years that there were too many licensed gun dealers for them to regulate. In 1994, one ATF official told the New York Times there were only 250 inspectors for 250,000 FFLs. “The smaller ones, the kitchen-table dealers, might not see an inspector for 10 years,” the official lamented.
“Probably 70 percent of the people holding licenses shouldn’t hold them,” another ATF spokesperson told the newspaper.
Clinton changed all that. Thousands of FFLs were forced out of business. Only the larger ones remained.
Selling guns has never been easy, anyway. Dealers must comply with federal, state and local laws, ordinances and regulations. Labor costs are high, and margins are low. Couple that with regulators who cannot only close them down for violating a book-full of regulations – they can also make arrests – and the FFL ranks were decimated, under Clinton.
The Cornyn/Murphy scheme – more dealers will mean more background checks, which will result in less crime – has been tried before. Obama tried to tighten the screws and force more people into getting FFLs in 2016. It didn’t work then. Cornyn and Murphy should know that now.
“The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks,” Obama’s press secretary wrote in a 2016 release titled: FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer.
Then, as now, Obama issued a long list of anti-rights decrees his press secretary characterized as “commonsense executive actions.”
Then, as now, the president tried to sell his unconstitutional orders to the American people by citing a laundry list of made-up facts and statistics – including the myth of popular support.
“The President and Vice President are committed to using every tool at the Administration’s disposal to reduce gun violence,” Obama’s press secretary wrote five years ago. “Some of the gaps in our country’s gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, which is why the President continues to call on Congress to pass the kind of commonsense gun safety reforms supported by a majority of the American people.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s nearly identical to press releases Biden’s crew has put out. Then, as now, the plan backfired. The American people simply ignored the president’s ramblings and bought more guns – a lot more guns.
Because neither Obama nor Biden could ever grasp what happens when a president threatens a God-given constitutional right.
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This story is part of the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project and is published here with their permission.