Will Obama Try to Bypass Congress to Enact Universal Background Checks?

There’s a Washington Post article being circled around the gun community that have some believing that the president is going to bypass Congress and, via executive order, mandate background checks for all gun sales, particularly those made between private buyers and sellers.

The WP article is titled, “Obama weighs expanding background checks through executive authority,” and it’s a little misleading in the sense Obama cannot by himself enact a law requiring universal background checks. As we all know, for a bill to become a law it requires Congressional action. A background check bill, like the one that failed to clear the Senate in 2013 (the Manchin-Toomey Amendment) is no exception. It must clear both chambers before it becomes the law of the land.

So, no. Obama cannot by himself enact universal background checks.

That said, what Obama’s crackpot team of lawyers and policy wonks are trying to do is to make those private individuals who sell or transfer an arbitrary number of firearms each year subject to ATF oversight and scrutiny.  In short, make them get a federal license to sell firearms.

From the WP:

The proposed executive action aims to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year. The current federal statute dictates that those who are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms need to obtain a federal license — and, therefore, conduct background checks — but exempts anyone “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.”

White House officials drafted the proposal in late 2013 to apply to those dealers who sell at least 50 guns annually, after Congress had rejected legislation that would have expanded background checks more broadly to private sellers. While the White House Office of Legal Counsel and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. initially concluded the regulation was legally defensible, according to several individuals involved in the discussions, some federal lawyers remained concerned that setting an arbitrary numerical threshold could leave the rule vulnerable to a challenge.

To recap, the Obama administration would like to quantify the number of firearms or transfers that a private individual or non FFL can make in a year before they are considered “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms. That arbitrary number that they set in the past was 50. So, if you sell 50 or more guns in a year you would need a federal license, regardless of whether it was hobby, done on occasion or if the firearms were part of a collection.

And if you are required to have a federal license under this 50-gun transfer rule (I guess that’s what we’ll call it), then you are also required to conduct a background check on each of your potential buyers. It’s pretty sneaky, huh?

I discussed this provision with a very prominent pro-gun lobbyist and I asked him specifically, A. Could this really be done via executive action? B. Would it stand legal scrutiny? and C. Wouldn’t it be impossible to enforce?

He didn’t want to comment on the record yet because the details have yet to be officially drafted. But his answer to each question were: A. Maybe. B. Maybe and C. Maybe. I guess well have to wait and see what materializes before we can render judgment on its political feasibility, its legal standing and its real-world implications for private sellers.

The WP did, however, get a quote from National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker who voiced on obvious frustration with redefining the statute in that it is likely to “ensure” regular folks such as a widow selling of her late husband’s gun collection.

“People who repeatedly sell large volumes of firearms are already covered in the current statute because they are already defined as ‘engaged in the business,’ ” she said.

Moreover, the Post also pointed out that the ATF wasn’t pleased with the thought of enforcing the proposal because it’s not exactly clear how many people would be affected by the change.

“Everyone realized it would be hugely politically controversial,” said one individual, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reported the Washington Post.

At the end of the day, the president’s hands are tied whether he likes it or not. Something called the Constitution stands in his way. While Obama undoubtedly views it as a living document that should be transformed to fit his agenda, there are hundreds of lawmakers in the House and Senate who believe otherwise, thankfully. Whatever the Obama administration proposes over the course of the next couple of weeks, we can all rest assured that it will be met with fierce opposition from pro-gun politicians, gun owners and gun manufacturers. Obama failed to gut our Second Amendment following Sandy Hook, there is reason to believe he’ll fail once more.

But that doesn’t mean we can rest an our laurels.  Be prepared to stand and fight.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • law dawg October 18, 2015, 10:15 pm

    Gentlemen, I can remember when I was in 1st grade the NRA and Boy Scouts leaders came to my school and gave the students a lecture on gun safety. A 22 cal. rifle was used as the prop for us to examine and learn the nomenclature and dangers of mishandling a firearm. Obama and his band of bafoons have an agenda that will never stop. The liberals or progressives, what ever you want to call them are hell bent on creating a communistic socialistic country. His agenda is being done as the writings of these comments are posted. These shootings that are occurring in our country are a product of the government and Obama’s plan. I have a belief that the obama regime is orchestrating them. This is just an opinion but there could be some truth to it. There are underlying things being hurled at the citizens of this country. It’s not just obama, it’s Bloomberg, Clintons, Soros, the drug cartels, etc… Who are dictating there plans for the elite of the world. Our sons and daughters have been duped by these people and their liberal agenda. The media has gone so far left that it’s sickening. All our rights are on the line ….we get crazy over a lion getting killed by a dentist, but no body speaks out about the 55 million and counting abortions that have been performed. We can not , ever, lose our 2 nd amendment rights. Once that happens we will lose all our rights. Our children have to be taught true history about the Constitution and how citizens many years ago fought to keeps us free from a tyrannical government… The government needs to remember they work for us and if they like their jobs it’s time for them to get off their fat asses and do thee job right. Law abiding. Citizens of the United States have been pushed to far by the obamanation and his band of anti americans . it’s time for a great change or we are doomed for sure…..

  • RetNavet October 13, 2015, 6:54 am

    All I have to say to anyone wishing to “infringe” (means limit in any way) upon my 2nd Amendment rights: YOU FIRST!!! You go ahead and give up any and all means of personal protection. That means anything from a nail file to an armed security detail….we’ll just see who is still alive thirty days later, you or me.

  • MountieFan16 October 12, 2015, 10:54 pm

    One of Hitler’s 1st “Executive Orders” was to ban the private ownership of firearms. Sound familiar?

  • Al Joy October 12, 2015, 9:54 pm

    It should not take long to figure out who is committing the majority of the homicides. It is not the mentally ill,
    There is no penalty for failing to pass a NICS check, so who have they stopped from buying a gun? Just those who were not aware of their status and tried to but a gun legally. The criminal steals theirs from the police or the military or buys them underground. If you can’t afford one, Can’t pass a NCIS check, steal one-there are 300,000,000 of them out there, a motivated criminal should be able to figure out how and where to get one.

  • Glennon October 12, 2015, 9:03 pm

    As soon as the Republicans gained control of both Houses of Congress Articles of Impeachment should have been brought up on Obama. There is only one reason this has not happened and I believe we all know what that reason is with me stating the obvious. If some on doesn’t have a clue then say so and I will explain to you what would happen if Obama is impeached and prosecuted in the Senate.

  • Ed October 12, 2015, 8:58 pm

    Here is my solution, if you use a gun in a crime and no one gets hurt, it’s an automatic 10 years in a federal pen. If someone gets hurt or killed because you used a gun in a crime and you are found guilty, you forfeited the right to appeal and it’s an automatic death penalty carried out immediately. The NRA is so mistakenly villianized. Their training is amazing and now that few fathers pass on firearm skills to their children, or at least a lot fewer than 60 years ago, we need that gun safety training as a standard. The NRA would not exist if we didn’t have domestic terrorists holding public office.

  • B Stirling October 12, 2015, 1:25 pm

    You may be an anti-gun believer and the First Amendment gives you the “Right” to publicly voice “Your Opinion”. However, there is a grand caveat to your position! It’s called the SECOND AMENDMENT! The Right to bear arms to prevent the Government from taking “Your” Constitutional Right as guaranteed by the Constitution! The entire constitution as a Whole! Not just the parts you want to pick and choose! Men and women have died to protect these Constitutional Rights! I may not agree with your anti-gun position, but I will use my guns to protect your Right to say so!
    Criminals will always be outside the rules of society! These nefarious individuals or groups will continue to break the law, no matter what law or regulation you enact!
    Most, if not all mass shooters could have been prevented if those around them had reported the bizarre or antisocial behavior of these people. We have enough laws, rules and regulation that only impact the law abiding citizens! Criminals will always live outside of these boundaries!

  • RICHARD GROENIER October 12, 2015, 11:42 am

    POTUS Obama is inclined to support any devious means to remove legal firearms and 2nd Amendment rights from the American people. He will do this by any means legal or illegal as with “fast and furious”. I am truly surprised he hasn’t assigned confiscation of firearms to the military and told the gutless congress and the “nine old men” to go fly a kite.

    The nest problem after he is out of office is what will we the “sheeple” have elected to replace him? My guess is that it will be some crooked gun-grabbing, welfare doling, liberal-feminist who has only personal gain and foreign political doctrine following as their true religion. Possibly communism? It seems that we are very near that now. There doesn’t appear to be much free speech left in out society. Labeling people as this that or the other seems to be the norm for people who disagree with a group’s political position.

    It appears to me that our country is on either a fast track to hell or down the S-curve in the toilet. NUFF SAID!!!

  • RICHARD GROENIER October 12, 2015, 11:41 am

    POTUS Obama is inclined to support any devious means to remove legal firearms and 2nd Amendment rights from the American people. He will do this by any means legal or illegal as with “fast and furious”. I am truly surprised he hasn’t assigned confiscation of firearms to the military and told the gutless congress and the “nine old men” to go fly a kite.

    The nest problem after he is out of office is what will we the “sheeple” have elected to replace him? My guess is that it will be some crooked gun-grabbing, welfare doling, liberal-feminist who has only personal gain and foreign political doctrine following as their true religion. Possibly communism? It seems that we are very near that now. There doesn’t appear to be much free speech left in out society. Labeling people as this that or the other seems to be the norm for people who disagree with a group’s political position.

    It appears to me that our country is on either a fast track to hell or down the S-curve in the toilet. NUFF SAID!!!

  • Nah bruh October 12, 2015, 11:02 am

    I’m not sure why everyone has their panties in a knot about universal background checks. I’ve yet to get a good reason as to why they shouldn’t be allowed.

    • Daddio7 October 12, 2015, 1:51 pm

      I say this only half tongue in cheek. It’s the twenty first century, the government knows whether or not if you own a gun so let’s just quit trying to keep transfers secret. The most sensible way to reduce mass shootings is to limit people under 28 and all first time buyers to one non-auto loading firearm with a six or less bullet capacity. People older than 28 and who have owned a gun for more than two years can buy any gun they want, subject to local gun laws. If NRA types want younger and first time owners to train with high capacity semi-automatic weapons they can form militias and hold drills.

      We know this would only reduce gun deaths by a few dozen so only an Australian type gun confiscation will have any effect in reducing gun deaths.

    • JKnTX October 12, 2015, 4:58 pm

      I will give you a very good one: there is no way the goobernment can enforce it if they don’t know who has the guns and that they have been transfered. In otherwords, they have to be registered. Now do you understand the danger in this scheme?

    • Charles Franchina October 17, 2015, 8:11 pm

      When Hitler came into power the first thing he did was say that crime is up and everyone needs to register their guns. Once all the guns were registered and he knew where to find them he said sorry, that didn’t work because crime is still up and besides guns are dangerous, so now we need to confiscate everyone’s guns.
      You don’t believe it is possible for the Government to plan a disaster. Any disaster, it could be financial or look like terrorism and the next thing you know there is Martial Law. The President along with his Homeland Security army can do whatever they please because they have guns and you don’t. You say the 1940’s was a long time ago, when they shut down the internet and control the TV stations you will see that nothing has changed.

  • BRASS October 12, 2015, 10:07 am

    Will he?
    Is Kanye West an annoying ass?

  • Terry Langlois October 12, 2015, 9:41 am

    So gentlepeople, I think. Australia forcibly banned ALL assault weapons and have had NO mass killings like we do here on a regular basis. Why is everyone so afraid of change? If government control is so bad, try Somalia, Syria, Iraq or many other place where there are no limits on guns. This insanity has to stop. When I travel abroad I am always asked “Why are we so violent?”
    I have no ready answer other than the NRA is in control with their Board comprised of 63 gun companies with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.
    After 6+ years, Obama still hasn’t come for our guns and will not do so.
    Please, let us pull our heads out of the sand and be a part of the needed dialogue to stop the madness.

    • Mick Dodge October 12, 2015, 12:33 pm

      Australia doesn’t allow massive influxes of radical immigrants with alien political agendas to enter it’s borders like our wayward leadership turns a blank eye to here in what is left of America.
      Don’t try to compare split peas to garbage cans and you might understand the difference between the two…

    • duke October 12, 2015, 2:07 pm

      Terry L. you are a special kind of stupid!!

    • CR October 12, 2015, 4:46 pm

      Australia didn’t ban “assault weapons” they banned all semi auto centerfire rifles and shotguns in 1996 and forced their confiscation. Obama has repeatedly held up Australia as an example of what he wants to enact here. So if that’s his ambition, then yes he does want to come for and confiscate our guns. He won’t because he can’t, not because he doesn’t want to. Look at what they actually did there, what their murder rates were before and after. Mass shootings have happened in Australia since then, but they were rare before that too. Their murder rate was declining before the semi auto ban and continued to decline at the same rate after. They’ve concluded themselves that there was no effect on crime. Start with the Wikipedia article on Australia’s gun laws and follow the links to original sources. I’m not just pulling this stuff out of a hat.

      What constitutes an “assault weapon” anyway? An arbitrary set of cosmetic features that varies by state and each proposed ban. These bans are nothing more than placebos to make politicians look like they’re doing something. All the claims of widespread violence and blood in the streets after the national ban expired in 2004…and the violent crime rate continued to drop.

      You are asked why we are so violent and your answer is because we have the NRA? That’s really what you’ve narrowed it down to? Maybe it’s because there are violent people among us, violent people who should be locked up. Since the NICS background check system was put in place, some 2 million people have been denied purchases because they are not legally allowed to own a firearm. That means it’s illegal for them to even attempt to buy one. Less than one percent of them were ever prosecuted much less put in prison for trying to buy a gun. Imagine how things would be if those people had been put in prison! If there’s anything that needs fixed, that might actually make a difference, and that everyone (even the scary NRA) should agree on, that’s it. And now people want to take the background check system that we won’t enforce now and make it “universal?” I know it’s cliche, but at least enforce the laws we already have!

    • James M. October 13, 2015, 2:04 am

      You sir are an idiot. In Australia they are now making single shot pipe pistols. Crime all around has spiked. Get you facts straight. And if you want more control, sell your soul and move into hell. I hear it’s warm year round, and Satan will protect you from firearms. Idiot.

    • Jay October 13, 2015, 6:33 am

      Terry it takes a special person to lack even a general understanding of the fact that the USA has a corner stone that it was built on. The Constitution. The 2nd amendment is a protection of and for the people and the constitution itself to stay in control of the government, not the other way around like government wants! If you want a gun free country move, but don’t try and make lame excuses for safety, mental illness etc…. as the reason for these mass killings! It has little to do with it! The problem is the whole illusion of the liberal mindset in which there is no accountability for one’s on actions! When you punish crime and criminals to the extent that they will run from the punishment instead of doing the crime, our jails will be less crowded and there wont be very many waiting on death row instead of in the ground where they belong! It’s up to society to rid ourselves of those who willfully Do Not adhere to our laws and therefore provide some real sense of security. Firearms are not the problem ,it’s accountability!

    • jms380 October 14, 2015, 1:02 pm

      Terry, Obama is trying to take guns. Look up Operation, it’s very clear. Gun owners just want to you be left alone. How fair is It that 1% causes the 99% to lose there rights.

  • RetNavet October 12, 2015, 5:33 am

    “Set-up” to fail ?….No, more like “born to fail”…product of a sick biology experiment gone wrong between a drunken Kenyan exchange student and a vehement anti-American commie-rat slattern.

  • Sugar Bill Brady October 12, 2015, 5:04 am

    So? Until the NRA stops acting like a petulant child with a bad case of paranoia, the anti-gun crowd is going to continue to make our lives miserable. Step up, man up, and make some sensible legislative suggestions to get and keep guns out of the hands of the mentally I’ll. That’s what is lacking. As a responsible gun owner, I welcome any and all criminal, medical or any other background check.

    • Chief October 12, 2015, 10:41 am

      ” the anti-gun crowd is going to continue to make our lives miserable”
      My friend they would not be happy if we didn’t own a single gun ,they would go after knives at that point .The anti-gun crowd is like a horrible ex wife you have a child with .She will torture you till the day you die and you just can’t escape her .

  • James M. October 10, 2015, 4:15 pm

    Why continuously waste time and money trying to reach the unattainable? Everything this man has done has failed. Is he thinking “Well, my succession rate is 3.7%, so if I try 30 different ways to the same outcome I should make it once”. Lunacy. It is running rampant in our society. I personally would rather work for 3 successes over 8 years. Than change a thousand things half-assed, and be constant failure. I personally believe this man was set up to fail. Damn. Imagine being a failure and the inside joke. Pathetic.

    • jms380 October 14, 2015, 12:51 pm

      Obama wants to take all the guns. Before you call me a crackpot. Look up Operation chokepoint. Obama is pressuring banks to drop firearms businesses. As a business having a credit line, is the lifeline of that business. So just because it’s covert, doesn’t mean he is not trying to take your guns.

      • Charles Franchina October 17, 2015, 7:51 pm

        So true. I never owned a gun until he came into office. Now I own 5 along with a concealed carry permit. This is only my gut feeling but I believe the number of guns in the U.S. has doubled since he came into Office. The Democrats are the greatest gun salesmen the world has ever seen.

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