The Freedom Watch has filed a lawsuit to fight the recent executive orders signed by the President to expand the background check system without Congressional approval. The lawsuit argues that the executive orders are outside of the scope of the President’s authority and circumvent Congress.
“[President] Obama has ordered ATF to redefine, in its enforcement activities, who is a ‘dealer’ in firearms ‘engaged in the business of selling firearms,'” said the Freedom Watch’s Larry Klayman in a press release. “The change of interpretation now sweeps up persons who do not seek to earn a livelihood or make a profit, who buy or sell as few as one or two guns a year. Worse, the new rules are so vague and subjective that Klayman challenges them as ‘void for vagueness.'”
“The president states that he is doing so purely because he does not like the legislative decisions of the Congress,” said Klayman. “These actions are unconstitutional abuses of the president’s and executive branch’s role in our nation’s constitutional architecture and exceed the powers of the president as set forth in the US Constitution.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida and alleges that the reinterpretation of existing law that could be used to force individuals to obtain Federal Firearms Licenses as gun dealers or pay the consequences for selling guns without a license.
According to the ATF (.pdf), “The penalty for dealing in firearms without a license is up to five years in prison, a fine up to $250,000, or both.”
There is no federal “bright line” between gun dealer and individual selling guns, rather, the ATF defines a gun dealer as anyone 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.”
Whether or not the executive orders change the way the some of the law is applied or enforced is debatable, and only one part of the lawsuit.
The Freedom Watch is also challenging the lawsuit’s new standards for “prohibited person,” also on grounds of vagueness. The executive orders tap health records from the Social Security Administration to expand the list of prohibited persons beyond the scope of the original law.
People who have been “adjudicated as a mental defective” are already considered prohibited persons and may not purchase firearms.
“Obama is changing under such background checks a person prohibited from buying a gun from one formally adjudicated by a court of law to be mentally incompetent to anyone who — vaguely — has a mental health ‘issue,'” added Klayman. “Thus, the due process protection of a court ruling is being lost. Obama ordered the Social Security Administration to report to the firearm background check database people on disability payments for reasons that may indicate ‘issues’ of mental health.”
“Obama is working to require doctors to report those with (poorly defined) issues. Everyone living in the same household may lose the right to possess a gun.”