Obama issues new executive actions on gun control, targets collectors instead of criminals
by Chad D. Baus
National media are reporting that the Obama administration unexpectedly announced two new gun control measures on Thursday.
The move came just two days after Obama promised, in a closed door meeting with some of the nation's most anti-gun rights mayors, that he was about to take unilateral action on guns.
Vice President Biden announced the new measures Thursday morning. The new rules, announced while Washington was otherwise focused on the crisis in Syria, took the form of executive actions, which President Obama added to the list of 23 steps the White House already determined the president could take on his own.
The steps come after Congress declined to pass any gun control legislation earlier this year despite an aggressive White House push for action in the wake of the Newton, Conn., shooting massacre. With the political world focused on Mideast tensions and looming fiscal battles, the move signaled Obama's intent to show he hasn't lost sight of the issue.
One new policy will end a government practice that lets military weapons, sold or donated by the U.S. to allies, be reimported into the U.S. by private entities. The White House said the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to be reimported since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.
The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from skirting the law by registering a gun to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register guns.
The article goes on to point out that since the types of surplus weapons that are being blocked are all more than 50 (and some well over 100) years old, and fall under the definition of "curio" or "relic" firearms (including the M1 Garand rifles and several other models) it is safe to assume that very few are used in crimes. Indeed, rifles (antique and modern) are used in murders far less than fists or baseball bats, etc.
Vice President Biden did not offer any exampled of cased where an imported U.S.-made military weapons have been used in a crime, or of people using a corporation to register handguns or semi-automatic rifles as a way to bypass criminal background checks,let alone having such a gun later be used in a crime.
When asked for comment, the NRA made that exact point, noting that neither measure would reduce crime, since neither the re-importation of firearms nor the corporate gun registration is known to be a source of weapons for criminals.
"Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners," the NRA said in a statement.
The Obama State Department has already been blocking many of these vintage collectibles, including block the importation of 600,000 M1 Carbines from South Korea because "they come with a magazine that can carry multiple rounds."
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced H.R. 2247--the "Collectible Firearms Protection Act." H.R. 2247 would allow the importation of U.S.-origin "curio or relic" firearms into the United States without State Department permission, but it is not clear whether or not the bill would effect Obama's executive actions.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.