Speculation is rife about President Obama’s post-Umpqua plans to further his gun control agenda – without Congressional support (obvs.). Obama Weighs White House Moves on Gun Control nbcnews.com reports. The article echoes the proposal making the rounds: changing the rules on gun sales so that anyone selling more than a certain number of firearms becomes a federal firearms dealer. They would then have to subject all sales to a federal background check (and fill out a mess of paperwork). As our man Leghorn pointed out . . .
the ATF already has rules in this regard. Rules that have already eliminated thousands of “kitchen table” FFL’s (Federal Firearms Licensees). Lowering the legal threshold defining a gun dealer would put a big old dent in gun show business, allowing Obama to claim he’s “closing the gun show loophole” – a longtime rallying cry for gun control advocates. And an almost completely irrelevant factor in firearms-related crime.
Changing ATF rules on gun dealers is doable. The political process of reversing Executive Order rule-making – lawsuits, new legislation and such – is onerous.
Four years ago, the ATF created a regulation to stem the “iron river’ of “assault rifles” flowing to Mexico (excluding illegal sales facilitated by the ATF and U.S. government-sacntioned sales that seep to the cartels). Gun dealers in four border states have to report purchasers who buy two or more semi-automatic weapons in a week with a caliber greater than .22 and a detachable magazine. Despite legal challenges, the reg still stands.
The Brits say it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you. This much-discussed rule change on gun dealers may not be the real deal. Here’s where American gun owners are vulnerable: the “sporting purposes” clause in the Gun Control Act of 1968:
The GCA created what is known as the “sporting purposes” standard for imported firearms, saying that they must “be generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” GCA sporting purposes includes hunting and organized competitive target shooting, but does not include “plinking” or “practical shooting” (which the ATF says is closer to police/combat-style competition and not comparable to more traditional types of sports), nor does it allow for collection for historical or design interest.
Earlier this year, Utah Congressman Rob Bishop introduced H.R. 2710. The “Lawful Purpose and Self Defense Act of 2015” sought to “remove BATFE’s authority to interpret or reinterpret the ‘sporting purposes’ clauses in federal law.” It was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, where it died.
So there’s nothing to stop the President – save popular outcry by a bunch of cry-baby gun owners (/sarc) – from evoking the GCA’s “non-sporting” clause and baning the importation of foreign-made firearms, parts for same and milsurp ammo. Less guns/ammo = less crime dontcha know.
[NB: the President banned imported Russian AK’s with the stroke of a pen after the Bear invaded the Ukraine. They’re now made in Florida.]
What would a sporting clause clamp-down do to stop “gun violence”? Not a damn thing. But it would be a suitably grand gesture on guns for a president desperate to make a point. (And, ironically enough, a boon to domestic gun and ammo makers.)
Other than that . . . I don’t know. One thing’s for sure: the ATF is the one to watch. The law enforcement organization elevated to Agency status by Ronald Reagan is ready, will and able to help the current president make life miserable for American gun owners, any way they can.