Obama wept: Tears of rage, tears of grief

Obama wept

Hey, y’all! Obama’s coming to get your guns!

Of course, he’s not. The measures he announced today will do practically nothing to stem gun violence, and won’t go out and take a gun from anyone’s hands, be they warm and alive or cold and dead.

But that’s the way it will play, isn’t it? Gun rights people are sort of binary creatures. They have two modes. In one, they are happy and comfortable in their personal bunkers with several years worth of MREs, an off-the-grid power supply, and good fields of fire in every direction. And in the other, they’re screaming “OBAMA’S COMING TO GET MY GUNS!”

Except Bryan, of course.

Doubt me on this? Read the second graf of this story:

“He wants to take my guns,” said Kim Nettles, a 66-year-old West Columbia resident who said Obama’s plan — to issue executive orders Tuesday enacting new gun rules — is “illegal.”…

In the real world in which we live, though, there’s little the president or anyone else can do about the fact that there are so very many guns out there, and sooner or later some of them are going to be in the wrong hands. It’s an economic problem — too many unstable, violent people chasing too many guns.

And so, rather than some avenging angel who is singlehandedly going to undo the 2nd Amendment, we have a president who weeps in frustration. And grief, of course…

58 thoughts on “Obama wept: Tears of rage, tears of grief

    1. Assistant

      I’ll try to make this my last post on this blog entry. The Washington Free Beacon points out that the administration’s comments on the president’s new initiative on guns appear to be at odds with written guidance the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has issued in response to the White House’s direction on Tuesday. Stephen Gutowski writes:

      “ATF will make clear that whether you are ‘engaged in the business’ depends on the facts and circumstances,” Valerie Jarrett told reporters on Monday. “On factors such as: whether you represent yourself as a dealer, such as making business cards or taking credit card statements. Whether you sell firearms shortly after they’re acquired or whether you buy or sell in the original packaging.”

      “Numbers are relevant. The ATF and DOJ did not identify a magic number of weapons that makes you engaged in the business because that would limit their ability to bring prosecution.”

      Jarrett then said that selling as few as two firearms could require a license. Later in the call, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that the threshold could be as low as one firearm sale.
      [SNIP]
      However, the ATF’s written guidance on federal firearms licensing emphasizes that whether sales are repetitive is a key determination in whether or not an individual needs a license. “As a general rule, you will need a license if you repetitively buy and sell firearms with the principal motive of making a profit,” the guidance reads. “In contrast, if you only make occasional sales of firearms from your personal collection, you do not need to be licensed.”

      The guidance goes on to assert, as Jarrett did, that there is no “magic number” for how many firearms somebody could sell before needing to acquire a license and some court cases have involved a small number of firearms being sold.
      [SNIP]
      The potential confusion caused by the administration’s public comments may result in people applying for licenses they do not need.

      “It could tie up resources,” the former ATF official said. “It could keep them from doing compliance inspections.”

      The official’s comments mirror those of ’90s-era officials who supported the Clinton administration’s efforts to slash the number of licensed gun dealers in the early 1990s.

      “We have about 250 inspectors to inspect more than 250,000 firearms licensees, and our director has testified in Congress that we get around to large dealers once every two or three years,” an agency spokesperson told the New York Times in 1994. “The smaller ones, the kitchen-table dealers, might not see an inspector for 10 years.”

      So how does this help anyone?

      Reply
    2. Assistant

      I failed in making my last comment my last post on this blog entry. I think we need a palate-cleanser that puts to the side the politics of gun ownership and focus on its morality. Not that some of the readers of this blog will enjoy what follows, but my purpose is to clarify the rationale for firearms ownership.

      David French at the National Review writes about the morality of gun ownership. Because conservatives believer in limited government and individualism / individual rights, they need to aggressively make the moral case for gun ownership. He writes:

      Gun ownership goes to the heart of what it means to be a responsible citizen in our constitutional republic. It goes to the heart of what it means to be a responsible parent or spouse. It isn’t merely about hunting, or the joy of an afternoon at the firing range, or “looking tough.” It isn’t about fear. It’s about autonomy, independence, and a deep and self-sacrificial regard for the lives of those you love. It’s about exercising the fundamental human right to defend oneself and others.

      He goes on to address the challenges and questions readers have sent him by asking if his correspondents consider themselves “as merely a beneficiary of American freedoms or also a guardian of our essential liberties?” What’s your view?

      He notes that many states in their constitutions state a fundamental right and moral obligation of resistance to tyranny, quoting the salient provision in his home state of Tennessee’s constitution:

      That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.

      Should you consider such to be extreme, unrealistic, and unnessary, allow me to direct you to what transpired in McMinn County Tennessee in August, 1946. Look up the Battle of Athens to read about how the locals, including recently-returned veterans of WWII, armed themselves and took on a corrupt political machine that practiced voter intimidation to stay in power. My favorite part is that those vets who liberated arms and ammunition from the National Guard Armory to participate in the rebellion carefully cleaned the weapons and returned them to the armory when the fight was over. That’s moral citizenship. Knowing that the state government was in cahoots with local politicians, and finding that their appeals to the federal Department of Justice got no response (Democrats tend to stand together), the local populace did what they had to to restore justice and fairness.

      Can you now appreciate conservatives’ support for the Bill of Rights, to include the Second Amendment?

      Also at the heart of conservative’s worldview is effective punishment for criminals using firearms in their crimes. Programs like Project Exile and Face 5 reduce the homicide rate by sentencing those engaged in gang activity to prisons out of state, reducing those felons’ ability to continue their illicit activities locally. Yet the Obama administration has shown little interest in such effective measures.

      So keep your powder dry…

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Mike, I don’t think you’re going to persuade a lot of people with that argument. Some people who have qualms about guns MAY be persuaded that they can be a necessary evil (some won’t even go that far), but there’s no way they’re going to go for embracing them as a positive moral GOOD.

        I’ve got a problem with that, so I’m sure they will.

        Also… this business of equating the pro-gun stance with being “conservative” just doesn’t work at all. The idea of every citizen (or at least, millions of citizens) having handy devices that are MADE for one thing — quickly and conveniently killing other humans — is the very opposite of conservatism. It’s EXTREMELY libertarian, and therefore classically liberal.

        The fact that people who CALL themselves “conservatives” tend to be pro-gun rights doesn’t mean that there’s a logical connection there. There isn’t. Conservatism embraces the status quo; it is pro-institutional, pro-establishment. Everybody having a gun is pretty much a wild-eyed radical position — one that was embraced by this country from its start, but wild-eyed radicalism nevertheless.

        Having so many people out there with firearms reminds me of something that Huck Finn said about telling the truth (something that seemed mighty irregular to him): It’s like sitting on a keg of gunpowder and setting it off, just to see which way you’ll go…

        Reply
        1. Assistant

          You write: “Conservatism embraces the status quo; it is pro-institutional, pro-establishment.” To expand on the definition a bit, conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense. They believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals. Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

          Firearms ownership is entirely consistent with these beliefs and may in fact be a prerequisite. While libertarians may share this belief, that does not mean that self-defense / defense of family and home is an exclusively libertarian notion. And while the right of self-defense as a fundamental law of nature is a classically liberal formulation, it is an ages-old fact evident throughout the animal kingdom as any survivor of an encounter with a mama bear and her cubs will tell you.

          Moreover, the right to keep and bear arms “is one of the few rights in the Constitution which can claim any considerable antiquity.” (Source.) In fact, under Henry III’s 1253 Assize of Arms, all “citizens, burgesses, free tenants, villeins and others from 15 to 60 years of age” were legally required to be armed. Conservatives recognize that owning a firearm is not a requirement, but rather a right and matter of choice and judgement.

          Many are frustrated at the fact that easy-to-use tools capable of taking a life are so widely available; reason tells us that most people in the US will never have to use a firearm in defending oneself, one’s family, or innocents.

          Unfortunately just as we can’t predict when or where an assailant will strike, we can’t predict who will be a victim. That’s why so many reasonable, responsible folks have weighed the alternatives and decided to acquire firearms, practice and train with these deadly tools, and get a concealed weapons permit (CWP). I’ve helped familiarize many people with firearms and am proud that several of the women have gone on to further training and gotten CWPs.

          But I’ve also experience the dark, deadly side of firearms firsthand, and am more aware than most of their ability to destroy not just life, but also dreams and futures.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Mike, you say, “conservatives believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty, traditional American values and a strong national defense.”

            Admittedly, these are slippery labels. Very often, the things we regard as opposite ends of the political spectrum meet and overlap — which is one thing that causes me not to believe in said spectrum.

            I am sure you can cite all sorts of sources that support, presently and in centuries past, that description of conservatism.

            But the way I usually think of the term, only responsibility (public as well as personal), traditional values and a strong national defense really fit comfortably in the category of what I see as tory notions.

            Free markets and individual liberty seem to me to clearly be liberal — dynamic elements tending to favor change. And so is “personal responsibility” when it is used to separate the individual from society, as opposed to public or communal responsibility.

            So does limited government, although there’s a SENSE in which I can see it as conservative. I think a conservative believes in strong, effective government (as well as other strong institutions, such as church and family) that is nevertheless restrained in its actions.

            Reply
            1. Assistant

              Brad – Sorry I’ve not responded sooner, but I had to drive up to Northern Virginia (NoVA) for work and to spend time with my 91-year-old mom in Ashburn.

              I think our difference lies in the definition of conservatism, a subject which William F. Buckley, Jr. tackled with an essay titled “Notes towards an Empirical Definition of Conservatism; Reluctantly and Apologetically Given by William F. Buckley.”

              Jonah Goldberg cites this essay in contrasting American Conservativism with conservatism in general in this short but rambling essay. His key point is this:

              The American Founding, warts and all, was the apotheosis of classical liberalism, and conservatism here has always been about preserving it. That’s why Friedrich Hayek, in his fantastic — and fantastically misunderstood — essay “Why I am Not a Conservative” could say that America was the one polity where one could be a conservative and a defender of the liberal tradition.

              It’s also why I have no problem with people who say that American conservatism is simply classical liberalism. As a shorthand, that’s fine by me.

              What conservatives have been lambasting as “liberal” of late is the return of a corrupted, in conservatives’ view, progressivism, that late 19th / early 20th century collectivist reform phenomenon represented by the works of Upton Sinclair, the educational regime of John Dewey, the politics of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt, und so weiter. Progressives of that era typically held that irresponsible actions by the rich were corrupting both public and private life.

              While one finds such beliefs present today among Democrats, the folks who passed the Dodd-Frank Bill, creating the unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Board*, put in place an undemocratic structure and set of procedures that protects the large financial institutions while burdening smaller ones with onerous requirements that are almost impossible for them to meet. I don’t know if you’ve spoken with any of the surviving mid-size and smaller bankers lately, but they’re scrambling to survive.

              Moreover, the current crop of Democrat progressives have moved toward crony capitalism, using government funds to “invest” in businesses founded by political contributors. That’s why I label modern progressivism as corrupted. Government payouts to Solyndra are merely one example of the current practice that includes subsidies for electric vehicles ($7500 per car at the federal level), solar installations (variable, but capture directly by the installer, not the home-owner), and so forth.

              Another feature of modern liberals, er, progressives, is their focus on identity politics. Gone are individuals, replaced by membership in a certain gender or gender identification, racial group, or whatever. Black lives matter… As for their notions of liberty, one must pay attention to triggers that might upset someone for whatever reason, be it the words used, the speech employed, and so forth. Many college campuses suffer from this malady, as do various local polities. Conservatives find this both humorous and alarming.

              I find that I am unable to contrast the conservative versus progressive / liberal divide on firearms in terms of commonly accepted political philosophy, other than to say that American conservatives support the Second Amendment as an individual right to keep and bear arms (affirmed by the Supremes), and also support stringent measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those found unworthy of such rights through due process. Progressives seem to want to disarm everyone, everyday citizens and cops alike. I don’t think that will turn out well, but will watch New York for leading indicators.

              Currently 40 states have “shall issue” laws that guarantee citizens who are not felons (or have other legal restrictions) and apply for concealed weapons permits (CWPs) such permits provided they meet state-specified training requirements. Conservatives support such laws, progressives don’t, but those that can’t provide for or are not granted bodyguards by virtue of political office do take advantage of the opportunity to get a CWP.

              * Unaccountable because it is funded by the Federal Reserve, not Congressional appropriations.

              Reply
  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Of course, both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz had promised to undo whatever Obama did before he even said what he would do.

    At least Lindsey Graham waited until after the president spoke:

    Graham Expresses Concerns about Obama’s Executive Actions on Gun Control

    WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today expressed concerns about President Obama’s executive actions on gun control.

    “Every American should be concerned about the executive actions announced by President Obama,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I fear it may prove to be yet another executive overreach and affront to our constitutional system of checks and balances.”

    Graham again called on President Obama and Democrats in Congress to support bipartisan legislation he has introduced which would deny guns to individuals who have a history of severe mental illness.

    Graham noted the case of South Carolina resident Alice Boland, a mentally disturbed individual who once pled ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ in federal court for threatening to kill the President of the United States.

    In 2013, Boland passed a background check and was able to legally purchase a firearm. She then went to Ashley Hall, a school in Charleston, where she tried to shoot several school officials.

    “An individual who pleads ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ should not be able to pass a federal background check and legally purchase a gun,” said Graham. “If President Obama wants to sign bipartisan legislation to expand background checks and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them, he should support my legislation. With President Obama’s backing, we could pass it in no time.”

    #####

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      Graham got it half right: A person who is judged not guilty by reason of insanity ought to be in an institutionalized setting. Don’t just take away their gun, get them help – or at the very least keep them away from the rest of us.

      Channeling Doug Ross, if we can warehouse minor drug dealers for decades long terms, we ought to be able to care for the far fewer seriously mentally ill. And doing so in an institutionalized setting is something that needs to be revisited.

      Reply
  2. Bryan Caskey

    “Mr. Obama will seek to expand the number of gun buyers who are subject to criminal background checks by clarifying existing law.” -NYT

    Funny, I ddidn’t think that was in the job description of Chief Executive. I thought we had this whole other branch of government for the purpose of clarification and explanation of laws.

    I must be mistaken, though.

    Reply
    1. Mark Stewart

      The legislative branch creates the laws, the executive branch carries them out.

      Rule making is often an executive function in the normal course of administering legislation. Since most legislation is a last minute hack job – or is riddled with special interest inserts – it isn’t always easy to infer clear legislative intent. Mostly because there never was any in the first place.

      Reply
        1. Mark Stewart

          Laws, complicated ones and not simple procedural statutes, are negotiated between attorneys and judges all the time. That’s case law. It evolves. As the players and times change.

          Nothing different to have this happen between attorneys in an administrative law setting. That’s implementation. It evolves, too. As the players and times change.

          Reply
        2. bud

          If the ordinary and plain meaning is clear, the analysis ends. Intent doesn’t matter.
          -Bryan

          Conservatives argue this all the time EXCEPT for the militia clause in the 2nd amendment.

          Reply
          1. Bryan Caskey

            No, you and I simply disagree about the relationship between the prefatory clause and the operative clause of the Second Amendment.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Which is easy to do, with the way it’s punctuated.

              The version passed by Congress and preserved in the National Archives is gobbledygook, thanks to the comma after “Militia:”

              A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

              At least some sense could be made of the version ratified by the states and authenticated by then-SecState Thomas Jefferson:

              A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

              And the obvious sense to ME is that this is a right that exists within the context of a well-regulated militia.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Now, with regard to that second version, I could play devil’s advocate and argue that MAYBE “militia” means what the more adamant gun libertarians say it means, which is pretty much anyone who wants to bear arms — or, at least, do so within the context of some organized group, public or private.

                That’s because, unlike in the first version, “militia” isn’t capitalized. Given the habit in the 18th century of following the German approach to nouns, particularly in formal documents, that lack of a capital letter could be taken as significant — as a hint that we’re not talking about an OFFICIAL Militia here.

                But I think that’s a stretch. If there was a consistent rule of usage in those days, it’s that there were no consistent rules. People placed commas, spelled words, and used capitals much as the mood struck them…

                Reply
                1. Bryan Caskey

                  It’s actually more than just the “adamant gun libertarians”. It’s the Supreme Court, for whatever that’s worth to ya.

                  “In United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, 179 (1939), we explained that “the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” That definition comports with founding-era sources. See, e.g., Webster (“The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades … and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only, but at other times left to pursue their usual occupations”); The Federalist No. 46, pp. 329, 334 (B. Wright ed. 1961) (J. Madison) (“near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands”); Letter to Destutt de Tracy (Jan. 26, 1811), in The Portable Thomas Jefferson 520, 524 (M. Peterson ed. 1975) (“[T]he militia of the State, that is to say, of every man in it able to bear arms”).”

                  The majority opinion continues…

                  “Unlike armies and navies, which Congress is given the power to create (“to raise … Armies”; “to provide … a Navy,” Art. I, §8, cls. 12–13), the militia is assumed by Article I already to be in existence. Congress is given the power to “provide for calling forth the militia,” §8, cl. 15; and the power not to create, but to “organiz[e]” it—and not to organize “a” militia, which is what one would expect if the militia were to be a federal creation, but to organize “the” militia, connoting a body already in existence, ibid., cl. 16. This is fully consistent with the ordinary definition of the militia as all able-bodied men. From that pool, Congress has plenary power to organize the units that will make up an effective fighting force. That is what Congress did in the first militia Act, which specified that “each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective states, resident therein, who is or shall be of the age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia.” Act of May 8, 1792, 1 Stat. 271. To be sure, Congress need not conscript every able-bodied man into the militia, because nothing in Article I suggests that in exercising its power to organize, discipline, and arm the militia, Congress must focus upon the entire body. Although the militia consists of all able-bodied men, the federally organized militia may consist of a subset of them.”

                  District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008).

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      This issue stirs emotions that cause people to get a little confused about what the Constitution says and doesn’t say.

      That was true on BBC Newshour (or as the host calls it, “BBC News Ah”). The host was interviewing the “leftenant governor” of Texas on the subject, and he announced that the 2nd Amendment specifically bars the government from preventing people from buying guns. The actual quote was, “the 2nd amendment made clear that you cannot infringe in any way upon a person’s right to buy a gun…”

      Yeah… really? I thought it was a right to BEAR arms, not to buy them…

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        But hey, I’m proud of the Texan for even understanding the BBC guy’s references to “lawr-abiding citizens” and such…

        I love British accents.

        The Texan, actually, didn’t have much of an accent…

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That’s a fascinating thing, that particular variant on the British accent that changes “law” and “saw” to “lawr” and sawr,” yet is non-rhotic on something such as “hour.”

          Actually, the Newshour guy goes way beyond the usual.

          The standard, Received Pronunciation way to say hour, I believe, is something like “OW-uh.”

          But this guy reduces it to a single syllable, and it comes out more like a short “a,” in which the a is pronounced almost, but not quite, the same as in “hat” or “cat.”

          Fascinating…

          Reply
      2. Assistant

        Brad – Unreasonable limitations on the exchange of arms runs afoul of the Constitution. See this Cooke column for clarification.

        Quite deliberately, the Bill of Rights is worded so as to shield categories and not specifics, which is why the First Amendment protects the “press” and not “ink”; why the Fourth covers “papers” and “effects” instead of listing every item that might be worn about one’s person; and why the Fifth insists broadly that one may not be deprived of “life, liberty, or property” and leaves the language there. The “right of the people” that is mentioned in the Second Amendment is not “to keep and bear guns” or “to keep and bear ammunition” but “to keep and bear arms,” which, per Black’s Law Dictionary, was understood in the 18th century to include the “musket and bayonet”; “sabre, holster pistols, and carbine”; an array of “side arms”; and any accoutrements necessary for their operation. To propose that a government could restrict access to ammunition without gutting the Second Amendment is akin to proposing that a government could ban churches without hollowing out the First. If a free people are to enjoy their liberties without encumbrance, the prerequisite tools must be let well alone.

        Banning the sale of arms (or ammunition) is the equivalent of banning the sale of printing presses, ink, or newsprint.

        Reply
        1. Norm Ivey

          I heard nothing in the president’s comments that indicate that the banning of weapons or ammunition is imminent.

          Reply
          1. Bryan Caskey

            It’s a big nothing to placate and fool his supporters. Having said that, there are some actual changes relating to trusts that are going to simply harass law-abiding gun owners. No one, I repeat no one who sets up a gun trust is a criminal. In my experience, they’re typically collectors/hobbyists. Criminals don’t jump through hoops of setting up gun trusts.

            The fanfare of the announcement is way out of proportion to what he announced. The ATF can “clarify” and provide “guidance” all they want. It’s not a rule. If it was a rule, the ATF would have to go through a formal rule-making process. They didn’t. It’s completely without the force of law. By the way, here’s the law[.PDF link to ATF] that the ATF is now being told they need to “clarify”:

            …a person who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of livelihood and profit through the repetitive purchase and resale of firearms. A dealer can be “engaged in the business” without taking title to the firearms that are sold. However, the term does not include a person who makes occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms

            Is any part of that law in need of clarification? I don’t see anything that is unclear here. It looks very, very, clear to me. Anyone here confused about this law?

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I wouldn’t say I’m “confused.” But it does seem to me that there’s a good-sized gray area where someone might consider himself to be a hobbyist, but look like a dealer to someone else…

              Reply
              1. Barry

                umm, I think most people know the difference. WE can make it very difficult if we want to make it difficult.

                Dealers are selling lots of guns and accessories, every business day, for profit.

                Hobbyists are not selling lots of guns, every business day, for profit- and if they sell accessories, it would be rare and would be limited to a particular type of gun they already own.

                My friend John in West Columbia is a hobbyist. He buys guns on occasion, keeps most of them them for a considerable amount of time, and will sell one occasionally. He’s not selling accessories unless the accessory he is selling came with the very gun he is attempting to sell.

                Reply
  3. Bob Amundson

    To receive my MPA I was required to take Administrative, Constitutional and Tort Law Classes. I am not an attorney, but as a public administrator, I believe our system does allow non-judicial interpretation of laws. Interpretation of law or statute is usually a judicial function, however, many statutes are managed by administrative agencies. Therefore, administrative agencies are empowered to interpret ambiguous laws or statutes dealing with administrative action. Also, administrative agencies have the power to interpret their own legislative rules. If the legislature has given authority to an agency to enforce a statute, then interpretation of that statute by the agency is given great deference by the courts.

    Please Bryan, don’t ask me to cite case law. I’m just sayin’, not debatin’.

    Reply
          1. Assistant

            Obama actually introduced ambiguity today, and that may have been his intent. See Taranto’s column today:

            From the White House’s standpoint, the lack of a clear standard would appear to be a feature rather than a flaw. It means that nobody is safe: Anyone who sells so much as one gun will have reason to fear prosecution. Some will no doubt be deterred, while others will obtain licenses and do the background checks—though as the Violence Policy Center noted in a 2007 report, licensed dealers are exempt from other regulations that apply to private sales. Of those who continue to sell without licenses, a few will be prosecuted. Some, even if acquitted, will have their lives ruined over a malum prohibitum offense.

            Meanwhile, malum in se firearms offenses will go on unabated, which is to say the effort is unlikely to save any lives. There will remain numerous channels, both legal and illegal, by which would-be killers can obtain guns.

            Taranto further points out that the Clinton administration used the “in the business of selling firearms” requirement as a reason to deny licenses, and that’s exactly the opposite of Obama’s approach now.

            Obama did mention Chiraq (Chicago) homicides today, but he dare not mention his opposition to gun control programs that worked in reducing gang activity, namely Project Exile (Richmond) or Face 5 (Atlanta): Felons committing crimes with a gun are tried in federal court and are imprisoned for a minimum of five years as far away from their hometown as possible.

            Reply
  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Footnotes for the culturally challenged…

    The first part of my headline evokes the Bible; the second part is from the chorus of this song.

    Not my favorite song by The Band, not by a long shot, but that was what the situation suggested…

    Reply
  5. Bryan Caskey

    The thing is, the White House (through the ATF) isn’t doing anything new or different at all. Fine, “clarify” existing law all you want, sport. Clarifying or providing guidance on existing law doesn’t change or otherwise alter existing law.

    It’s a show. It’s political theater for the liberal base who demand Something Must be Done.

    It means nothing.

    Reply
    1. Bryan Caskey

      Heck, I bet 50% of the White House’s motivation in doing this is to provoke Republicans into freaking out…over nothing.

      Reply
    2. Bryan Caskey

      Or maybe this is Obama’s way of stimulating the economy.

      Step 1: Say something seemingly big (but actually innocuous) about gun control.
      Step 2: People freak out and buy lots of guns and ammo.
      Step 3: GDP goes up.

      Genius.

      Reply
      1. bud

        Works for me.

        I don’t believe POTUS actions will do much either way. They certainly won’t make it significantly more difficult for law abiding citizens to buy guns. We already have hundreds of millions of guns so a bit fewer or more won’t make a difference.

        But here’s why this is important. All worthwhile endeavors start modestly. As an example safety belt usage is currently running upwards of 90%. Seat belt usage was for decades regarded as un-necessary, or worse, dangerous. Belts were first mandated in automobiles in the early 60s with little impact. Belt laws started in the 80s. Again, only modest gains in usage rates were achieved. But through promotion and fine tuning of laws belt usage gradually increased to where it is today. Few people feel threatened by seat belt laws. It almost never comes up in conversation any more. The result is that 10s of thousands of people are alive today because of the work of highway safety advocates to generate acceptance and near universal usage of vehicle safety belts. (Another example of successful liberalism at work).

        Perhaps 50 years from now we’ll look back on a weeping POTUS and regard that as the moment when gun safety finally started to gain popular acceptance.

        Reply
        1. Barry

          Enforcement of seat belt laws in states is why seat belt use is so high.
          http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810962.pdf

          To the contrary- federal gun laws – ALREADY ON THE BOOKS- are almost never carried through to actual prosecutions.

          “Despite political rhetoric about enforcing gun laws on the books, it isn’t happening,” said Matt Bennett, a spokesman for Americans for Gun Safety Foundation. “Two percent of federal gun crimes are prosecuted and it’s an absolute outrage.”

          “The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.”

          Reply
          1. Assistant

            Please see my remarks above regarding Project Exile and Face 5. Gangs are a significant political force in Chicago. Maybe that’s why Obama, Emanuel, and others are reluctant to federalize gun crimes in that city, it may hurt the Democrats at election time.

            Reply
            1. Barry

              Well – you have to notice that when I post statistics of how many actual prosecutions take place when criminals try to buy guns illegally- it’s ignored.

              That’s because wanting new gun laws is the sexy thing – the thing that grabs the headlines.

              Prosecuting people that are already breaking the gun laws isn’t as popular and “fun” to talk about.

              So let’s just add some more gun laws to the books.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Barry, just to make sure I understand… when you say, “you have to notice that when I post statistics of how many actual prosecutions take place when criminals try to buy guns illegally- it’s ignored”…

                Are you saying it fails to post here? Because I don’t recall any of your posts being blocked.

                Or are you just saying, you HAVE posted them here, but others haven’t paid attention?

                Reply
                1. Barry

                  Few ever pay attention to it – and I am not talking about just on here.

                  When there is a post about the statistics on how few prosecutions there have been in violent places like Chicago, it largely falls on deaf ears.

                  The cable news outlets- and even major media outlets will mention it from time to time, but the follow up is missing. How many times have you heard the attorney general asked specifically whey aren’t there more prosecutions? It’s almost never asked. The subject is rarely even approached.

                  It leads someone quite a few to believe that many just want it to be a political issue, rather an issue that is solved.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  OK. I was worried you were getting blocked. I thought it might be a technical problem due to links or something. I’m sorry for your frustration, but glad to know I don’t have a technical problem…

        1. Assistant

          Obama contributed to it on at least two occasions by citing Australia as a model for gun control. That’s popularly, although perhaps somewhat mistakenly, understood as confiscation.

          Reply
  6. Burl Burlingame

    Oh my. The president is making it only slightly more difficult for the insane, criminals and terrorists to obtain weapons. Time to light your hair on fire.

    Reply
  7. Mark Stewart

    What’s amazing is the gun control act of 1938 (or 1934 or whenever) actually seriously restricted the types of firearms citizens can possess. And nobody cries boo about it.

    But to do so now? Blasphemy! Whatever, I am all for responsible gun ownership, even wide gun ownership. But not ever will I be for unrestricted gun ownership.

    Plus, the looney “Patriots” occupying my home state are poster children for the difference between wide and responsible. So maybe I am more for responsible gun ownership.

    Reply
  8. Mprince

    Gun control package that WILL make a difference:

    1) Background checks on all gun purchases.
    2) Registration of all guns (both currently owned and newly sold) with state police agencies.
    3) Mandatory training prior to taking ownership of any gun (boon to firing ranges/safety ed programs).
    4) Ban on future manufacture and sale of semi-automatic weapons (long guns and handguns) – with buy-back program for semi-automatics already in circulation.
    5) Limit cartridge clips to a max. capacity of 10 rounds.

    Nothing here violates the 2nd Amendment, since the Amendment does not say: you may own any type of gun under any and all circumstances.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      All of which will do nothing to stop people who don’t want to follow your rules from doing so. Zero impact on criminals, plenty of new regulations to enforce.

      Reply
    2. Assistant

      There are more guns today, in total and per individual, than was the case 20 years ago, yet the gun murder rate is about half what it was back then. Details here. You ought to read the whole thing, but the key points follow:

      In 1994 Americans owned around 192 million guns, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice. Today, that figure is somewhere between 245 and 328 million… we have reason to believe gun prevalence likely surpassed the one-gun-per-adult mark early in President Barack Obama’s first term…

      Yet during that same period, per-capita gun murders have been cut almost in half.

      The gun murder rate in 1993 was 7.0 per 100,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
      In 2000 the gun murder rate per 100,000 was 3.8. By 2013, the rate was even lower, at 3.5, though there was a slight upswing in the mid-00s.

      This simple point — that America is awash with more guns than ever before, yet we are killing each other with guns at a far lower rate than when we had far fewer guns — undermines the narrative that there is a straightforward, causal relationship between increased gun prevalence and gun homicide. Even if you fall back on the conclusion that it’s just a small number of owners stockpiling more and more guns, it’s hard to escape noticing that even these hoarders seem to be harming fewer and fewer people with their weapons, casting doubt on the proposition that gun ownership is a political crisis demanding action.

      I’ll add that the increasing homicide rate in cities like Baltimore and Chicago are symptoms of gang activity that should be dealt with by stiff sentences in prisons as far away from the perps’ homes as possible, ala Project Exile and Face 5. We know those programs work in reducing gun violence, while inconveniencing law-abiding gun owners doesn’t.

      Reply
      1. Mprince

        Nowhere in the Amendment does it say: “Thou shalt not be inconvenienced in the expression of your right.”

        Reply
  9. Assistant

    In related news, the ATF has finalized new rules for NFA trusts, an overview is here. A friend who’s already established an NFA trust complained bitterly in an email last night about the amount of money and time he’s either wasted setting up the trust or will have to spend to comply with the new rules.

    He has no argument over the DoJ’s or BATFE’s authority to make the changes, just that he’ll have to spend more time and money to stay legal.

    I’m at the very start of setting up an NFA trust, but will now reevaluate its benefits with the changes in the regulations.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      and of course lots of criminals want to set up gun trusts….. LOL

      Some of the proposals are – sorry- really stupid.

      Some of these folks can’t face reality.

      Reply

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