Entering his final year as president, Barack Obama has repackaged and spruced up a long-running war the administration has been trying to wage against gun shows, this time announcing an effort to classify many collectors and hobbyists as “gun dealers” based on criteria that are questionable, critics are suggesting.
But is this much ado about nothing? That’s what National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker reportedly indicated to the New York Times.
“This is it, really?” Baker was quoted as stating, by the Wall Street Journal. “This is what they’ve been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they’ve spent seven years putting together? They’re not really doing anything.”
Maybe, maybe not. There are some new twists to the president’s effort on guns.
The White House also announced that the Social Security Administration will be looking to possibly add information on an estimated 75,000 people receiving benefits who allegedly aren’t in possession of all their faculties. The White House “Fact Sheet” may be read here.
The proposal is to “include information from the Social Security Administration in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm.”
“Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs,” the White House noted in a description of its plan
But the Social Security Administration will reportedly begin the rulemaking process “to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to NICS.”
The White House statement said this effort is aimed at “approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent.”
But the big attention is on how the president wants to poke gun shows. The threat that people who attend gun shows and sell maybe one or two firearms a year could be reclassified as dealers appears designed primarily to discourage private citizens from engaging in an American tradition, the private sale, gifting or swap of a firearm.
And here’s how the White House is fomenting the concerns:
“For example,” the White House said, “a person can be engaged in the business of dealing in firearms even if the person only conducts firearm transactions at gun shows or through the Internet. Those engaged in the business of dealing in firearms who utilize the Internet or other technologies must obtain a license, just as a dealer whose business is run out of a traditional brick-and-mortar store.
“Quantity and frequency of sales are relevant indicators,” the document continues. “There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement. But it is important to note that even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is ‘engaged in the business.’ For example, courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place, when other factors also were present.”
Reaction to the president’s announcement was immediate and sharp.
“Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems,” NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox noted in a statement. “Today’s event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attacks.”
“Obama wants more background checks and he is only accomplishing it by having more people buy firearms,” observed Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, “because of his anti-gun rights agenda and attacks on the Second Amendment. We now have a record number of background checks done every month. Once again his actions have backfired. Ironically, he’s the reason more people are buying more firearms.”
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