Today. the President announced the details of the executive action he is taking on guns. The press, wholly in the tank for massive gun control, are pitching this as a major change. The picture is that of a defiant President standing up to the evil NRA and saving America from the scourge of loopholes and absence of background checks which are ultimately responsible for all terrorism and murder in the world.
It is, to put it briefly, a ridiculously overblown picture.
But even so, people across America are wondering a few things. Every day I see people ask what the “gun show loophole” is, why we don’t have “universal” background checks, and many other questions. Those questions are amplified in light of the President’s executive action. So we are going to break it down for you here at RedState. This way you know exactly what is happening and why.
To that end, I’ve borrowed a format often used by the left to put information into bite-sized bits that are easy to remember and share. You will not only understand, but be able to explain. Let’s begin, shall we?
1. The Gun Show Loophole
Obama: “Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecutions.”
Truth: There is no gun show loophole. What people mean is that you have to sell a certain amount of guns before you cross over from private citizen to a dealer requiring a license. A private sale is when a person who owns a gun sells that gun to another person. Some private sales take place at gun shows. But people who are dealers that go to gun shows and sell lots of guns have to be licensed. The sales are legal, and there is a background check on the buyer. This is already the law. There’s no loophole.
2. The Online Loophole
Obama: “A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the internet with no background check, no questions asked.”
Truth: There is no online loophole. Exactly as with the gun show, what happens is that a person might privately sell something. Let’s say you own a gun. You have a friend on Facebook who wants to buy a gun. You sell your friend the gun. Because you are not a retailer, you do not have to be licensed as a dealer, and are not required to conduct a background check. That’s it. Otherwise, online sales are already covered. Retailers that sell guns and have an online presence where you can buy them are licensed and therefore, the sales are legal and there is a background check on the buyer. And you simply can’t sell a gun over the internet and ship it over state lines without restriction or background check even if it is a private sale. That’s right. Even private online sales cannot transfer the weapon without a check. There’s no loophole.
3. Universal Background Checks
Obama: “We know that background checks make a difference.”
Truth: There are already background checks. So this statement is a straw man. What the controllers are pitching is who is required to conduct them and under what circumstances. This idea is sold in the press as simple common sense. The idea is that every time a person becomes the owner of a gun, they are vetted by the government. This would even mean temporary transfers of ownership, like say you give your gun to your mother while you are on deployment. Some states, like recently-in-the-news Oregon, have passed laws that are versions of this. That is, a criminal and mental health background check for all gun sales. (In Oregon’s case, even the new law still allows transfers of ownership among family members without a check.) But the requirement for a background check on all private sales of guns is one of the objectives of the gun control lobby and their media allies. So now you know what they mean by this. They mean that you can’t sell your rifle to your Facebook hunting buddy unless a criminal and mental health background check is conducted.
4. Obama’s Executive Action
Despite the wishes of the gun-grabbers, Obama’s executive action does not address points one through three above. Instead, it simply “requires” that the ATF should enforce the existing laws about licensing people who sell weapons. To that end they are giving more money to the ATF for people who conduct the background checks that already are conducted and are already required by law. There will also be more federal oversight and enforcement on reporting of lost or stolen guns. As a result of Obama’s action, it is possible that more people will be defined as sellers based on volume as a result of there being more ATF agents, but in reality private sales won’t be changed in any meaningful way, and gun shows and online sales will continue as they do, with only a very few exceptions.
Although the practical effect of the President’s action is relatively minor, it is a message nevertheless. The President is establishing his authority to simply take action curtailing the constitutionally guaranteed right of Americans to own guns, without the legislature, based on his own decisions about what that action should consist of. As a precedent for gun-grabbing, it may not be strong, but it is absolutely applicable. If you value your freedom to purchase and possess guns, this action is an affront.
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