Without waiting for Congress, President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday, January 16, a sweeping $500 million program to curb gun violence in the wake of the Connecticut school shooting, which is sure to set up a fight over universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
In Obama's announcement were a list of twenty-three executive "actions" in which Obama promised to use his presidential powers to act ahead of congressional approval. Most of Obama's executive orders amounted to fluff, nothing really new, other than to prop up or enforcing existing law, but some are not without merit or beyond scrutiny.
Tucked away in item 18 is a mandate to beef up school security with armed guards. This was a dangerous, radical idea when Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, proposed it a week after the Sandy Hook tragedy, but now has official, if quiet and underfunded, sanction from the President.
Beefing up school security with armed guards has become one of the few substantive items on the President's list, and a cornerstone of his action plan to protect our children.
There is also an end run around the privacy requirements built into HIPAA (item 2, "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act"), which was enacted on August 27, 1996, to protect health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs. Now Obama wants addressed unnecessary legal barriers that may prevent states from making personal health information available for HIPAA backgound checks.
With 2,700 pages, the new healthcare law gives the president near-dictatorial control over your healthcare, but who would have guessed that privileged conversations with our physicians would be so tempting to this President? If Obama gets his way doctors across the county could play a key role in his new gun control initiative by asking what type and how many guns do you have in your house?
Order 16, as summarized, simply states federal agencies will "Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes." Already causing significant controversy, the Administration is planning to offer guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), doesn't prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.
In a strange twist of fate, Obamacare contains an amendment (Sec. 2716, part c) which specifically forbids the Federal government from collecting data on firearm and ammunition purchases for lawful use, added as an accommodation to the NRA , which the President would dearly like to do.
Despite bold predictions by Vice President Biden, the wording in item 6 shows that Obama is doing "the crayfish" on this issue. In Louisiana terms, that's pretending to "face" the problem while slowly
backing away. Item 6, instructing FFL's how to conduct background checks for private sellers, simply reiterates what FLLs do on a daily basis. Current law does not require background checks in private sales of firearms, only those conducted through FFL's. Although the President did ask Congress to change the law, he made no attempt to do it by executive order.
Authorizing the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to investigate the cause and effect of gun crimes is another blind alley (item 14). In a 1995 study, the CDC concluded that gun laws, including the AWB and gun-free school zones, were ineffective.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an anecdotal article which posed that owning a gun was more dangerous to the owner than to an assailant. This study was faulty in several ways: (a) The ONLY way you can be injured with your own gun is if you own one. (b) 65% of all homicides with guns are suicides, yet the vast majority of suicides use drugs or suffocation. (c) According to criminologist Gary Kleck, more than 93% of all instances where a gun is used for self defense go unreported - no shots were fired or the defender would be in more trouble than the offender if reported (e.g., Chicago, NYC or Maryland). Of those incidents reported, shots were fired in only one time in one hundred.
The President also wants to aggressively prosecute illegal guns sales and gun running (item 13). Perhaps Obama should take care of his own house by first seeing to it that gun-walking Eric Holder and the top 6 appointees in BATF are suspended and brought to trial. Order 13 is nothing more than a pledge to enforce existing law. Prosecutions for falsification of background checks (form 4473) are almost non-existent. Connecticut has a record of only one prosecution since 1968. Even New York, the "shining example of gun control" only recently prosecuted the purchaser of the weapons used by ex-con, William Spengler, to kill two volunteer firemen and wound two others.
Calling for "universal background checks" is a matter for Congress to address, which even the President acknowledges. It is widely claimed that 40% of all gun sales are made without this safeguard. However, this figure is false, promoted mainly by the organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, headed by Michael Bloomberg of NYC.
The correct figure is closer to 6%. The erroneous statistic comes from interpretation of data collected in 1991, before background checks were instituted in the 1994 Gun Safety Act (aka AWB). A survey was taken of 251 gun purchasers, asking whether they bought firearms from a store or private dealer. It was later assumed that only stores conducted background checks. In fact, transactions through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) use the same forms and NICS checks as brick-and-mortar stores. All Internet sales and nearly all gun show sales involve an FFL. Many sales are between close relatives and through inheritance, which are exempted in both existing and Obama's proposed regulations. The face to face sale between strangers is only about 6% of the total, not counting illegal transfers which won't change regardless of the law.
Several items address gun safety issues, including item 15, which implies a renewed interest in "personalized" or biometric systems, which are expensive, unreliable and cannot be easily retrofitted. The most expensive tool is one that won't do the job, and a "safety" system that disables the weapon in the time of need is downright dangerous to the owner. As for safety, nearly as many children (thirty drown by falling into mop buckets each year than by gun accidents (about forty). Being struck by errant gang shootings does not qualify as an accident.
Modern firearms are inherently "dangerous" when used properly, in once sense of the word. Otherwise, why would they exist. Truly accidental discharges are almost unheard of. A better term is "negligent" discharge. They can be dropped, kicked or otherwise abused without firing. You must deliberately (or injudiciously) pull the trigger. They won't go off in a hot car - it takes a temperature of nearly 400 deg F to sizzle powder - pizza oven temperature - even then with more of a
whimper than a bang.
In order to protect 2nd Amendment rights, the first priority of concerned citizens must be to persuade your Congressmen to eschew new restrictions on so-called "assault weapons," and "high capacity" magazines, which under Feinstein's proposal would include over 80% of handguns and rifles in common use.
Since fewer than 1000
homicides (1%) are committed each year with assault rifles, out of 30 million in
circulation, by people who routinely ignore laws, nothing is gained by removing
these guns from the vast majority of owners who have them for sport and self
What will work? Make the background checks more effective,
and prosecute false statements. Make sure adjudications of mental illness, where
the patient is likely to hurt himself or others, is reported to the NICS
database (opinions don't count unless supported by evidence and subject to
challenge). Eliminate or limit most gun-free zones, including malls, theaters
and most government buildings, which serve as "soft targets" for
criminals. Lawful possession and carry should be licensed on a "shall issue"
basis. Prosecute those who commit assaults, robberies or carry guns in schools
unlawfully as ADULTS. The President seems averse to the latter, considering his
voting record in his rare appearances on the legislative floor. https://dailycaller.com/2013/01/16/flashback-in-1999-obama-wouldnt-support-tougher-prosecution-for-school-shooters/
If universal background
checks are required, a reasonable process should be established for
private, non-FFL sales. Exchanges between family members and inheritances
should continue to be exempted.
It was noted on Friday,
January 18, that Obama is mobilizing his campaign organization to pressure
Congress and the public into supporting his gun law proposals. We foresee a
series of speeches against a backdrop of worshiping supporters, highly
publicized protest marches and a blizzard of TV ads. Obama will get a lot of
favorable coverage from the main-stream media, but Congress will not likely be
impressed. Obama's appearances will be in areas which voted for him, large
cities and such, which compose the Obama "choir". It is doubtful that Phoenix
will be on his tour, nor Salt Lake City or Indianapolis.
Since the press
won't check facts, it's important for those of us who are concerned about the
direction of our nation to continue to build our case with lawmakers, pro and
con, on the key issues. We need to rally our supporters in Congress, and shake
the confidence of our opponents. We are not in a position to make compromises.
Our opponents won't give an inch, and we shouldn't make their job any easier.
There is no
solution more likely to achieve positive results against violence than vigorous
enforcement of existing laws, which is sadly lacking, nor any solution less
effective than one directed at millions of law-abiding gun owners.