Obama Is Considering Gun Control Through Executive Order

After yesterday's not one, not two, but three campus shootings, which come a week after the latest mass killing at Umpqua Community College left 10 people dead, it was only a matter of time before the administration would pick up where it left off shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting of December 2012.

The time has arrived, and according to The Hill after Obama's failed efforts to implement any form of gun control in early 2013 fizzled, the lame duck president is preparing to do what he has been threatening to do for a long time, by issuing a new executive action on gun control.

"Obama is wading back into the divisive issue of gun control as he travels to Roseburg, Ore., Friday to meet privately with survivors and families of victims of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College."

While not a full ban on gun sales (yet) Obama is considering extending background check requirements to more dealers, according to The Washington Post. A White House official confirmed the plan is under consideration.

As we have noted previously, this proposal is among a number of executive actions that Obama considered after the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. Back then the idea was abandoned, partly due to objections from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Still, unwilling to ride off into the sunset without imposing at least one executive order on gun control, the White House is giving the plan a second look.

At a press conference last week, a frustrated Obama said he had asked his advisers "to scrub what kinds of authorities do we have to enforce the laws that we have in place more effectively to keep guns out of the hands of criminals."

The details:

Under the plan, dealers who sell guns above a certain amount would have to perform background checks and obtain a license from the ATF.


Many of those dealers are exempt from the requirements now under a federal law that states people who make "occasional sales" as a hobby do not have to obtain a license or perform background checks, The Post notes.


The rule change would effectively help to close what critics call a loophole that allows people to purchase firearms online and at gun shows without going through a background check.


The president’s legal staff is weighing just how far he could tighten the standard without the regulation being overturned in court.

Like on previous occasions, such an executive order is certain to set off a firestorm in Washington, with a debate raging in Congress whether gun control is needed to stem the tide of mass shootings.

Obama's proposal is sure to also launch a firestorm on the presidential campaign trail, where Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, has seized on the Oregon shooting to put forward a number of gun control proposals, including an executive action on background checks that is similar to what Obama is now considering.

The Democratic Party's focus on guns has drawn fierce criticism from Republican White House hopefuls, who largely say mental health, and not gun control, is the correct policy response. They say Democrats are using the shootings to roll back Second Amendment rights.

Meanwhile, just like in 2012, the threat of more gun control is having just the opposite effect of what the president intends, and as we reported earlier this week, gun sales are soaring in the aftermath of the most recent cluster of shootings. In fact, "gun sales this year could surpass the record set in 2013, when gun purchases surged after the December 2012 Sandy Hook murders."

In the first nine months of this year, 15.6m of the background checks needed to purchase guns from federally licensed sellers have been processed, compared with the 15.5m applications in the same period in 2013, according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Why the surge? Simple: "Once the public hears the president on the news say we need more gun controls, it tends to drive sales,” said Mr Hyatt, who owns one of the largest gun retailers in the US. "People think, if I don’t get a gun now, it might be difficult to get one in the future. The store is crowded."

Because if you want something to be truly broken, just invite the government to "fix" it. Which is not to say that everyone is a loser - two clear winners from Obama's repeated attempts to enforce gun control are shown in the chart below.