Gun Stories of the Week: Are Bloomberg’s Billions Buying Obama’s Executive Orders?
TOP STORY Bloomberg’s billions buying Obama executive orders? Some people fear President Obama will impose sweeping federal gun regulations by...
Bloomberg’s billions buying Obama executive orders?
Some people fear President Obama will impose sweeping federal gun regulations by fiat, bypassing a gridlocked Congress with a series of executive orders issued on whatever wisp of authority his lawyers can “scrub” into existence.
If so, Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by former New York City Mayor and Big Daddy Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, on Nov. 12 got to personally visit the President in the White House and drop-off their 5-point wish list for potential executive orders they say Obama “could adopt without input from Congress.”
It’s that close: A wave of a hand.
There is nothing new about Everytown’s 5-point list. What is new is Obama has it on his desk in the Oval Office. The Bloombergians are demanding that he:
— Issue “guidance” to ensure that “dangerous people” are not permitted to carry guns within 1,000 feet of a school.
— Issue a regulation clarifying that “high-volume gun sellers” are “engaged in the business” of dealing firearms and must obtain dealer licenses and comply with applicable laws, including background checks on all gun sales.
— Instruct federal law enforcement to identify and arrest dangerous criminals who try to buy illegal guns, and to notify and work with state and local authorities when these illegal purchases are attempted.
— Assist states in enforcing their existing background check laws by publishing aggregate background check denial data for guns sold by unlicensed sellers.
— Protect victims of domestic abuse by clarifying that convicted abusers are prohibited from having guns regardless of marital status.
According to Arden Farhi of CBS News, the most significant thing that Everytown is calling on Obama to do is “codify who is engaged in the business of selling guns.” Someone who sells more than 25 guns a year, Everytown recommends, should be considered a gun dealer and subject to federal regulations.
Currently, federal law defines a gun dealer as someone “who devotes time, attention, and labor to dealing in firearms…with the principal objective of livelihood and profit.” Dealers need federal permits to sell firearms, and their buyers are subject to background checks.
A hobbyist, who “makes occasional sales…of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby,” is classified differently. These occasional sellers aren’t required to obtain a permit, nor are their buyers subject to background checks. And their sales are typically made privately, online or at gun shows.
Everytown also wants the president to define what counts as a “personal collection” of firearms, Farhi writes. The law currently exempts gun sales from a person’s personal collection from federal checks.
Everytown’s report recommends Mr. Obama narrowly define it this way: only a gun that “has been owned for a period of one year, unless it was obtained through inheritance” should count, the report says.
A National Rifle Association spokesperson told the Washington Post in October that a change in the law could unintentionally “ensare” a widow selling off her late husband’s firearms.
“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,’ ” Jennifer Baker of the NRA told the Post.
But, as Liz Sheld notes on PJ Tattler on Nov. 12, the most alarming aspect is how money and access could result in a fringe-group having its goals imposed as policy by executive fiat.
“This is how our republic functions now — the White House and its auxiliary interest groups conspire about how to ‘beat’ the Constitution and make an end-run around Congress with ‘regulations,’” Sheld writes. “It didn’t work out so well for Obama’s executive amnesty; we’ll have to wait and see how it works out for the anti-gun crew.”
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FINGER-PRINTING TO FINGER-POINTING
Maryland pulls plug on $5M, 15-year ‘gun fingerprint’ database scheme
Maryland has officially ended its 15-year effort to “fingerprint” thousands of handguns after spending more than $5 million to collect 340,000 shell casings but not solve one case, generate one clue, make one arrest, nor secure one conviction which, as gun control experts assured all in 2000, the program would surely do.
In 2000, Maryland required gun manufacturers fire every handgun to be sold in the state and send the spent bullet casing to authorities. The idea was to build a database of “ballistic fingerprints” to help solve future crimes.
But the system—plagued by technological problems—never solved a single case. Now the hundreds of thousands of accumulated casings could be sold for scrap.
“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” former Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a Democrat who pushed for the database, to the Associated Press. “It’s a little unfortunate, in that logic and common sense suggest that it would be a good crime-fighting tool.”
Not really—especially since the state hasn’t funded it in a near decade which, in governmentese, means, “ending the program without bothering to end the program.” All state legislators are asking to do now is “pull the plug” on a defunct program, according to the AP.
The computerized system designed to sort and match images never worked as envisioned. The system Maryland bought created images so imprecise that when an investigator submitted a crime scene casing, the database software would sometimes spit out hundreds of matches. The state sued the manufacturer in 2009 for $1.9 million, settling three years later for $390,000.
Republicans in Maryland tried ending the program twice, in 2005 and again in 2013. Democrats blocked those efforts both times despite the failures in both Maryland’s system and a similar one in New York, which shut down in 2012.
When Martin O’Malley got a gun-control law passed in 2014, it created a surge in sales that ended up burying the state police in spent shell casings, requiring eight staffers to be hired to deal with the 60,000 fresh samples. Just warehousing and maintaining the shell casings cost “several hundred thousand dollars a year,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
“What lessons are we to learn here?” asks Ed Morrissey in a Nov. 10 hotair.com blog. “Perhaps the first lesson is that no idea is so nonsensical that it can’t be turned into a government program, especially when the topic is gun control.”
Morrissey dismisses supporters’ contention that 15 years is not enough time to determine the effectiveness of the program and that it needs to be reauthorized.
“Even if that’s true,” he writes, “then the ballistic fingerprints will get investigators nowhere except to find the victim of a prior robbery. It still won’t solve the extant crime.”
It’s a waste of time and resources and, oh by the way, it doesn’t work, Morrissey said.
“Meanwhile, Maryland will bury itself in used shell casings and pay for storage and personnel in order to solve no crimes at all,” he writes. “Those resources would be put to much better use if they funded more investigators rather than more bureaucrats and stock clerks. Those are the priorities that matter in law enforcement, but appear to matter less to politicians looking for headlines to assuage gun-control advocates.
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Cook County can’t resist sludge-slide into unconstitutional absurdity
Seattle, Los Angeles, even Bozeman, Mont., are adopting their own special gun control laws so, in the spirit of the 14th Amendment, why not Cook County?
After all, Cook County is Chicago, that bastion of illogic, that place where the forces of gun control told the country: We decide what the Constitution means here today. You sit down and you, over there, be quiet.
So, it is with no great surprise, according to Bob Owens in a Nov, 12 Bearingarms.com blog. “that Cook County now appears to be on the edge of adopting a blatantly unconstitutional tax on ammunition modeled after one that has seen Seattle’s city council dragged into court.”
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said on Nov. 10 that she has enough votes to approve a new countywide tax on ammunition for handguns and rifles. The ammo tax would slap a 1-cent-per-cartridge levy on less powerful ammunition such as .22 caliber bullets, and a 5-cent-per-bullet tax on more powerful ammo, such as 9-mm bullets.
“It’s a pretty safe bet that if there is a bad gun control idea to be pushed, that the radically anti-gun Democrats of the Chicago area will latch on to it,” Owens writes. “What Preckwinkle won’t admit is that the goal of the Cook county bullet tax is the same as that of Seattle’s; making ammunition too expensive for the average person to afford, effectively pricing them out of gun ownership.”
Seattle’s law imposes $25 for every firearms transfer and a per-bullet tax that would drive up the cost of a brick of .22LR by $10 or the cost of a standard case of 9mm up $50.
“That’s extra money that the city’s working poor don’t have to spend, putting firearms ownership out of their reach,” Owens writes, “and we have to believe that was specifically the point of the tax.”
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Is California case headed for the Supreme Court?
The case of Friedman v. City of Highland Park remains on the United States Supreme Court’s radar, but the justices have not committed to hearing the challenge. The Court has had at least four private conferences on the case but, as of Nov. 9, had not opted to accept or dismiss it.
Friedman is a potentially significant challenge because it could define the ability of some Americans to own some semi-automatic firearms given the politically contrived but scary sounding title of “assault weapons.”
While the Supreme Court has been reluctant to hear gun-related cases since issuing two landmark rulings, District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. City of Chicago in 2010, legal analysts think that Friedman v. Highland Park could be that “next” significant gun-related court ruling.
But there could be another on the horizon, a California case that could make the docket in the coming years that many will already find familiar: Peruta v. San Diego County.
The California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation brought suit on behalf of five individuals denied the right to carry a handgun by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. In February 2015, a three-judge panel in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government can’t require residents who want a concealed-carry permit to first “prove” they really need their rights by showing official documentation, such as restraining orders or letters from law-enforcement agencies.
After that ruling, the 9th Circuit opted to rehear the case before its full 11-member panel. That hearing occurred in October. A decision could come at any time.
“Whatever they decide,” writes Frank Miniter on Forbes.com, ”this case is a very ripe candidate for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
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