Death by a Thousand Cuts: The Obama administration’s attempts to whittle away our rights

by Chris Knox and Jeff Knox

Taking advantage of the media attention around the swearing-in of B. Todd Jones as the new Director of ATF, the Obama administration announced two Executive Actions aimed at appeasing gun control groups and asserting executive authority. Ostensibly intended to "curb gun violence," the measures are even more unlikely to have an impact on crime, suicide, or accidents than most of the proposals we see from the anti-rights crowd.

The first proposal deals with the re-importation of US-made, World War II era firearms. The second proposal deals with the application process for owning NFA items like machine-guns and silencers.

One of the problems with the standard NFA application process is that it requires the applicant's "Chief Law Enforcement Officer" or CLEO to sign off on it. In some jurisdictions the CLEO's refuse to sign NFA paperwork, blocking their citizens from owning NFA items.

There is also a problem when an NFA owner wants to let friends and family members shoot his guns or even just man his booth at a gun show, because the law requires that the items always be under the direct control of the registered owner. This creates a particular problem when a registered owner dies unexpectedly; his family can be left as unintentional felons for possessing his NFA items.

A solution to these problems was found in the rules regarding corporate ownership of NFA items. The law provides for legal entities like corporations to own NFA items with less scrutiny, no CLEO sign off, and the ability to authorize employees and members of the entity to possess items independently. This has led to a cottage industry for lawyers setting up family NFA trusts, LLC's, and small corporations for people wanting to own NFA items in a more flexible manner and without fighting with CLEO's. Of course, anyone prohibited from possessing a firearm is still prohibited from possessing corporate or trust owned NFA items.

ATF and Obama don't like NFA trusts and corporations. They say a "prohibited person," such as a convicted felon, could gain access to NFA items by creating or joining an NFA trust or business. To remedy this, the administration is proposing that all members of an NFA trust or corporation submit forms, photos, and fingerprints, and have their background investigated. They also want to require a slightly modified certification from CLEO's on all trust and corporate applicants. This would create massive backlogs in a system which is already chronically overloaded, and give CLEO's even greater authority to block all NFA applicants.

This is a bad solution for a non-existent problem. If a prohibited person managed to establish membership in an NFA trust or corporation, that would put him, and all of the other members, at risk of criminal prosecution, fines, incarceration, and forfeiture of their expensive NFA items – not to mention the $200 per item tax stamps and the $500 to $1000 for creating the trust or company. With all of that on the line – and the fact that these types of items can be fabricated or acquired on the black market (though they rarely are), is it any surprise that there has never been a case of a member of a private NFA trust or company committing a violent crime using an NFA item?

The real objective of Obama and ATF is to add more expense, delay, and frustration to the NFA process in hopes of discouraging people from bothering with it. This proposal most assuredly won't have any impact whatsoever on crime.

The proposal to block the repatriation of firearms that the US sold or gave to our allies back in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s is another red herring. The most modern rifles affected by this proposal are the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine. The Garand is big, heavy, and we'd pay to watch videos of modern "gangsta's" trying to load and shoot one. The M1 Carbine was developed to replace the 1911 as a handy personal defense weapon. While it is fairly handy, its round is anemic and we can't recall ever hearing of one used in a crime.

Again, the objective of Obama and ATF is not to reduce crime or "gun violence," but rather to make owning guns more expensive, more difficult, and more politically risky. Just as with the NFA rule changes, nothing in this proposal would have any impact on crime or violence.

Both of these proposals will be open for public comment. We'll keep you posted about that at In the meantime, we urge you to contact your elected servants in Washington and demand that they not allow this administration to get away with these assaults on our rights. Most regulatory proposals are approved regardless of the volume or sensibility of the comments generated. Congress has the authority to shut these proposals down cold and they need to exercise that authority rather than allow Obama and his allies to kill the Second Amendment with these latest slices in their ongoing campaign of death by a thousand cuts.

NOTE: The NFA proposal has now been posted for comments here at:

Suggestions for comments will be posted at

Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit and link to is included.

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