Last week as Vice President Joe Biden swore in our new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF); The White House released two more executive actions (EA) as part of his growing arsenal for gun control. The statement that accompanies the two EAs is as follows:
Today, the Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013.
Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the President and Vice President remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence.
Even though President Obama likes to use the phrase “common-sense” quite regularly; these two EAs are more nonsensical than anything else. Let’s examine each new EA for a moment to see if they will really keep us safer.
Closing a Loophole to Keep Some of the Most Dangerous Guns Out of the Wrong Hands
President Obama states that even though some weapons have certain restrictions on them with regard to civilian ownership there are criminals that can easily get their hands on sawed off shotguns and machine guns by going through a corporation or trust to evade gun laws.
First, let’s talk about what a gun trust or gun corporation really is so we can get a better understanding on what the President is talking about.
A National Firearms Act (NFA) Gun Trust and a NFA Gun Corporation are similar tools that help a federal firearms license (FFL) holder manage their weapons and authorize who has permission to use said weapons. Without a gun trust or a gun corporation, a person would be in violation of federal law if they let someone use one of their Title II (a.k.a Class 3) weapons. That is because that particular weapon is registered directly to the gun owner. If a FFL holder uses a trust or corporation, that weapon is registered to the trust or corporation and anyone who is a member of said trust or corporation is authorized to use the weapon as the law allows. A NFA Trust comes in handy for some because the trust will not have to worry about receiving authorization from local law enforcement to own a Title II weapon every time one is bought. Also, the members of the trust aren’t subjected to fingerprinting and photo submission every time a new weapon is purchased. The other beauty of a FFL trust is if the primary holder of said trust passes away, it alleviates a lot of the problems with the issue of inheritance.
One of the arguments presented in this EA is members of the trusts or corporations are not subjected to background checks. That’s not entirely true. In some cases the members are family members but they have to be licensed to use these weapons. If a trust holder dies and another person inherits the trust, that person must be a FFL holder. If the person who inherits the trust is underage, then he or she will not receive said weapons until they are legally authorized to do so.
Another argument presented with this loophole is that it allows felons to bypass the law. The problem with that rationale is felons don’t tend to go out and get FFL’s and buy guns from reputable dealers and then have them registered with the BATF. If felons wanted to get their guns they would do it the easier way and get them illegally. Still another argument posed by this EA is last year BATF has received 39,000 applications for NFA Trusts and NFA Corporations. Although that is an increase in number it’s not a sign of nefarious criminal activity. I guess it was brought up just to make it sound as if we’re dealing with a potential crime wave.
After researching how many murders were committed using legal Title II weapons I found four cases where the person either had a FFL, a legal federal firearm, or both. That’s four cases since the National Firearms act was passed in 1934. One of the most recent cases is that of Christopher J. Dorner. Dorner’s case has been used as evidence that FFA Trusts are dangerous loopholes for criminals because Dorner supposedly wrote in his 11,000 word manifesto that he set up a trust to purchase silencers and sawed off shotguns to avoid background checks. The problem with that theory is as the primary holder of the FFA Trust, Dorner would be the one purchasing the weapons, paying the taxes and going through the background check for each item he purchased. Dorner is not a good example for the dangers of FFA trusts considering he was gun control advocate and had an agenda.
Keeping Surplus Military Weapons Off Our Streets
President Obama’s argument for this EA is he’s trying to prevent weapons of war from being re-imported and have them wind up on our streets. Again, I have to question his scare tactics here. For one thing you just can’t ship one of these weapons into the country via UPS or FedEx. You must have a Federal gun dealer’s license and permission from a government agency in order to purchase one of these weapons. Also, there is no evidence that a dealer specializing in these sorts of weapons are selling them on the black market for criminal use. The paper trail for these weapons is so long that it’s just easier to smuggle them across the border illegally.
Another thing one must consider are the types of weapons that are being re-imported. We’re talking about weapons that were manufactured 50 years ago or longer. Those aren’t generally the types of weapons you’ll find on the streets of Oakland or Chicago. These are considered curio or relic weapons that are imported and sold to collectors. In other words, the very weapons Congressman Cynthia Lummis (R- WY) tried to protect with her Collectable Firearms Protection Act. As of now the bill is still sitting in committee.
You have to wonder who will be affected by these EAs if it won’t put a dent in gun crime or make our nation any safer. Well, it will not only prevent private collectors and gun dealers specializing in these weapons from having access to them but it will seriously impact the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). This is an organization that was created by Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act. This organization allowed civilians to train with weapons of war in case war broke out and they were called in for military service. Now the CMP sponsors gun clubs and emphasize gun safety and training for everyone. Thanks to the new EA, this 110 year old tradition will be put in peril.
It’s evident that these two new EAs will do nothing to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Especially since these guns were never headed into the wrong hands to begin with. So why would President Obama release such strange EAs? Some may believe that this is proof that President Obama has no idea what he is doing or is utterly clueless as to how the federal gun laws work. I disagree. No matter how daft something may seem, President Obama never does something without considering how it’ll work towards a larger plan in the future. Right now people think that EAs have no teeth and therefore are meaningless. Not entirely. It’s true it’s not an executive order where a president can direct his executive branch how to follow a law; an executive action is considered a vague catch all that puts forth the President’s wishes without changing any laws. While that may sound silly, it is a great way to get the ground work put in place to enact a huge gun ban law that’ll destroy the 2nd amendment in the future. By hook or by crook, President Obama and subsequent progressive presidents will make sure the citizens of this nation are disarmed. This is the beginning of the end if we’re not vigilant about protecting our rights.