A Thorough Fisking Of Obama’s Executive Orders On Gun Control


A Thorough Fisking Of Obama’s Executive Orders On Gun Control

Let's examine. First, from the White House:

Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun. Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. 

And yet the CDC says firearms are "an important crime deterrent," if you want to put stock in a government entity for an obvious answer. The benefits of firearms vastly outweigh the abuses of them by criminals:

The Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council released the results of their research through the CDC last month. Researchers compiled data from previous studies in order to guide future research on gun violence, noting that “almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”

More from the White House:

And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident.

I look forward to the President's executive orders on pools, cars, and bikes. I've covered previously:


Carspools, bicycles, and other unintentional injuries are the top killers of children.

The leading causes of injury-related death among children ages 14 and under are motor vehicle crashes, suffocation, drowning and fires and/or burns.

More:

Over 1,400 children were killed by cars, almost 260 of those deaths were young pedestrians. Bicycle and space heater accidents take many times more children’s lives than guns. Over 90 drowned in bathtubs. The most recent yearly data available indicates that over 30 children under age 5 drowned in five-gallon plastic water buckets.

Furthermore, vastly more children are killed by fire and water than accidentally by firearms. 

Back to the White House:

The vast majority of Americans—including the vast majority of gun owners—believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies.

Who are these people? I get the progressive obsession to speak for every group, but this doesn't speak for gun owners. This claim is also wrong. From Truth Revolt:

According to a CNN poll conducted last month, nearly 60% do not want the types of gun control laws Obama is asking for. In fact since 2013, a majority have felt this way. 

Back to the White House once again:

... the President continues to call on Congress to pass the kind of commonsense gun safety reforms supported by a majority of the American people.

What reforms? And why is common sense one word? The "expanded background checks" the President calls for already exist in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, the states which most recently endured tragedies. Why didn't those "commonsense" laws reduce anything?

Here comes the line items:

1. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is making clear that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.

"If you're in the business of selling firearms ..." this is already a law and federally regulated. So Obama wants to pass this law again? Or make everyone a FFL thereby creating a defacto registry, something I've previously asked? This is the biggest takeaway.

White House again:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is overhauling the background check system to make it more effective and efficient. The envisioned improvements include processing background checks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and improving notification of local authorities when certain prohibited persons unlawfully attempt to buy a gun. The FBI will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff to help process these background checks.

The background check system is already flawed and the administration plans to expand it further. John Lott has done some excellent work on the faulty background check system:

If someone is flagged by the NICS system, it is because it appears that they didn’t put down something in their background that disqualified them from buying a gun. Yet, an initial denial does not mean that the individual is actually disqualified from owning a gun. Take the numbers for 2009, the latest year with data available. There were 71,010 initial denials. Of those, only 4,681, or 6.6 percent, were referred to the BATF field offices for further investigation. As a report on these denials by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates, “The remaining denials (66,329 – 93%) did not meet referral guidelines or were overturned after review by Brady Operations or after the FBI received additional information.”  The last two of these three categories are clearly false positives.  The first might involve false positives, but it is possible that the disqualifying offenses are too old (though there are some prosecutions that involve misdemeanor violations that are four decades old so that isn't too obvious).  To put it differently, the initial review didn’t find that these individuals had a record that prevented them from buying a gun. (Numbers for 2010 are available here.)

Still that isn’t the end of the story. Of these 4,681 referrals, over 51 percent, or 2,390 cases, involve “delayed denials,” cases where a check hasn’t even been completed. Of the rest, 2,291 covered cases where initial reviews indicated that the person should have been denied buying a gun. But the government admits that upon further review another 572 of these referrals were found “not [to be] a prohibited person,” leaving about 4,154 cases. That implies an initial false positive rate of roughly 94.2%. And it still doesn’t mean that the government hasn’t made a mistake on the remaining cases. In some cases for example, a person’s criminal record was supposed to be expunged, and it had not been?

Of the cases referred to the BATF field offices there were still a number of false positives.  A 2004 sample found out that about 21 percent of these cases were found to be false positives (the percentage is slightly higher if a weighted sample is used).
 

Furthermore, how do you "improve notifications?" We're talking about improving the consistency with which people do their jobs. It wasn't a lack of manpower that enabled thug Dylann Roof to purchase a firearm and mow down black church-goers. It was a simple FBI error:

According to Comey, on April 13, two days after Roof tried to purchase a gun, a background check examiner ran his criminal history, which brought up a felony drug charge and wrongly listed the arresting agency as Lexington County Sheriff’s Office.

Whether or not Roof could even purchase a firearm is moot as he was charged with felony drug possession and in South Carolina, a charge, not even a conviction, is enough to render one a prohibited possessor. Roof couldn't carry much less purchase. But then again, criminals don't follow laws. 

Back to the WH:

2. Make our communities safer from gun violence.

The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.

The President’s FY2017 budget will include funding for 200 new ATF agents and investigators to help enforce our gun laws.

ATF has established an Internet Investigation Center to track illegal online firearms trafficking and is dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.

ATF is finalizing a rule to ensure that dealers who ship firearms notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen in transit.

It's weird to me that an administration that sold guns to terrorists south of the border proposes more manpower to enforce gun laws. Are these "200 new ATF agents" going to Chicago? St. Louis? DC? NYC? Are they going to any of the areas that serve as the biggest drivers to gun homicide rates to ensure repeat offenders and gang bangers don't obtain illegally procured firearms? 

3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.

[...]

The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.

By "legal barriers" they mean the due process proclaimed as a natural right in our Constitution. We have a legal process in place by which to adjudicate someone mentally unfit for Second Amendment eligibility. The problem is, we don't follow it. I've covered this extensively:

Let's use the case of Jared Loughner as an example. Loughner was suspended from Pima Community College for his behavior, for his outbursts in class; his behavior scared teachers and students alike. From the WSJ:

"Students and faculty at Pima Community College feared for their safety as Jared Lee Loughner's increasingly erratic behavior led to a series of encounters with campus police in the eight months before he was suspended from school last fall, police reports show.   After he was accused of shooting 19 people last Saturday, school officials described his behavior while at Pima as odd and disruptive. But police reports show in chilling detail that the behavior frightened students and teachers. In February, a rattled student told school officials she feared he had a knife, after Mr. Loughner upset his Advanced Poetry Writing class by making comments such as, "why don't we just strap bombs to babies."   In May, an instructor was so worried about physical violence on Mr. Loughner's part that she requested—and received—a police guard outside her class. By June, a dean told the police that students in Mr. Loughner's math class were "afraid of any repercussions that could exist from Loughner being unstable in his actions."   The school finally suspended Mr. Loughner in late September, after police officers who removed him from a biology class told the school they believed he had mental health problems.   Loughner was not allowed back at school without a mental health clearance."

[...]

A dean at Pima Community College spoke with police about Loughner. Even after Loughner'sfive separate run-ins with college police (pdfs), police saw no reason to act.

"The police told Ms. Houston they would check Mr. Loughner's history and if there was cause for concern, they would talk to him.   After looking into Mr. Loughner's background and finding some "prior drug involvement but no warrants," the police decided not to take any action.   "For now, this report documents the faculty's concerns but does not in my opinion justify making contact with Loughner by police," wrote Officer D. Simmons.

As it turned out, Pima Community College didn't follow its own guidelines for dealing with such a matter as Loughner:

"Combined with earlier documents obtained by KGUN9 News, the evidence shows that PCC did not strictly adhere to its own internal guidelines in its handling of Loughner. In a public records request filed with PCC on February 22, 9 On Your Side asked to see any documents setting out guidelines or procedures for contacting mental health authorities about a student."

[...]

... the college failed to follow its own protocol, plus failed to follow through after identifying Loughner as such a threat as to be barred from campus. I'd for like Andrew Cuomo to explain how passing stricter gun laws would have forced Pima Community College to act? As it relates to Loughner purchasing a firearm:

"There is no known record that a court had ever declared Loughner mentally unfit or that he had ever been committed to a mental institution.   But even if that had been the case, there’s no guarantee that Loughner’s name would have appeared in the national database.Some states have been slow to report names that belong in the “do not sell” list, even after Congress passed a law in 2007 aimed at punishing states with inadequate compliance records and providing incentives to states with good reporting records."

 

You can read the above excerpted in its entirety here.

More of my coverage:

On April 16, 2007, mentally disturbed Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech. He had a lifelong history of mental illness, recorded as far back as his early childhood. Two years before the massacre he was in trouble for stalking female students and was removed from a class by a professor who found him "menacing." In December of 2005 the New River Valley Community Services Board declared that he was mentally ill and "in need of hospitalization." Somehow it was recommended that he receive treatment as an outpatient and he was released but was court-ordered to follow all medical recommendations and continue to seek outpatient treatment. Though the New River Valley Community Services Board was required by the court to monitor him and Cho was ordered to continue treatment, neither party was compliant. Cho never received the court-ordered treatment needed, the board never followed up, and he was never summoned back to court. 

Again, for laws to work, people must follow them and those implementing them must do it properly. It's not a money issue. 

Next on the WH's list:

4. Shape the future of gun safety technology.

The President has directed the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.

The President has also directed the departments to review the availability of smart gun technology on a regular basis, and to explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.

Gun owners by and large roll their eyes at smart gun tech because it's completely errant, unsafe, unpredictable, and frankly a silly choice for defense. Here is one test where the heralded first choice for smart guns failed miserably. Sorry, but if I'm defending myself against a rapist in a parking garage, I don't think he's going to wait for my wristband to take 20 seconds to pair with  my gun (that's if it does so successfully, whereas tests of Armatix iP1 struggled to do even this, to say nothing of the difficulties with the trigger). Read the full review. Additionally, smart gun advocates are championing pricing poor people out of their Second Amendment rights. Smart gun tech is as faulty as it is expensive and if the free market supported firearms with bulky tech that made usage impossible we wouldn't need the President executive ordering federal funds to pay for additional research to again prove the obvious. I suppose in keeping with progressive narrative building I have to ask why they are so against allowing poor people in high crime, urban areas to exercise their Second Amendment right? The poor would be the hardest hit. 

Now to fact-check the White House's other claims:

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the background check system has prevented more than 2 million guns from getting into the wrong hands. 

False. See above on background checks. This figure includes false positives and denials as one figure, which is misleading. 

Clarify that it doesn’t matter where you conduct your business—from a store, at gun shows, or over the Internet: If you’re in the business of selling firearms, you must get a license and conduct background checks.

Clearly the person who compiled this isn't familiar with firearm law. You can't order a gun on the Internet and have it shipped to your house all Amazon Prime-like. If you purchase online you must go to an FFL and the transaction is only completed after you pass your background check in the store. I've purchased several guns this way. 

There is no such thing as a "loophole." Everything is regulated. I've written at length on this:

Background checks already exist for purchases made online. Newsflash to Manchin: When you purchase guns online they aren't shipped to your house like an Amazon delivery. They must be shipped to a FFL where you then go, fill out a 4473, get your background check, and if cleared you can take it home. Period. This law already exists. You cannot carry a firearm, much less purchase one, if you are a prohibited possessor be it at a store, gun show, or Internet. Period. It's already regulated. More from me previously:

What "loophole?" If you are classified by the ATF as a dealer you must have a federal firearms license. Background checks are mandatory. You can't order a gun off of the Internet and have it shipped to your home; it must go through an FFL. No FFL is going to jeopardize their hard-won license for a criminal sale. You may not purchase a firearm from across state lines as dealers are barred via the Gun Control Act of 1968 from selling or transferring firearms sans FLL across state lines. 

You may purchase a firearm from an occasional seller, not a dealer (differences matter) in your state of residence if you are legally allowed to own a firearm (no domestic violence record, no felonies, no drug use, et al.) -- meaning you are not a prohibited possessor or even suspected of being a prohibited possessor. If you are a prohibited possessor and you buy a gun regardless you're breaking the law and will be charged with a crime. If a person knowingly sells a prohibited possessor a firearm they are breaking the law and will be charged with a crime. If they claim cluelessness they still may be charged depending on the results of the investigation. That's not a loophole, that's a criminal act. If your driver's license is suspended due to a DUI and yet you continue to drive, that's not a loophole in the law, it is a criminal act. What anti-Second Amendment advocates mean when they use the rhetorical scam term "loophole" is that they want the federal government to treat every single American as a federal firearms dealer, meaning they would have to establish a national, quasi-registry (current law prevents the federal government from compiling a registry based off of the NICS information) to make it work and make your husband doubly-answerable to the ATF if he legally buys your son his first hunting rifle. 

There is nothing in the President's executive orders that would have prevented the tragedies we saw this year anor is there anything included in these proposals that isn't already federally regulated. 

I asked on Twitter earlier this evening: 

A question apropos of these orders. 

**UPDATE: 

During the townhall Obama claimed that the NRA doesn't support background checks. They created the system and have demanded for the flaws to be fixed. Try again. 

****

All of this and more are covered and cited in my book, Hands Off My Gun, available here.


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