Five things you need to know about the president’s executive action on guns

John Boehner

Earlier this week, President Obama once again circumvented Congress by taking executive action that undermines the Second Amendment. Ahead of his town hall meeting tonight, here are five things you need to know about the president’s latest political stunt:

1. These measures wouldn’t have prevented recent mass shootings.
A fact-check from the Associated Press found that none of the president’s reforms would have prevented the tragic shootings in Newtown, San Bernardino, Charleston, Aurora, Roseburg, Chattanooga, or Washington, D.C. As this review explains, “The shooters at Sandy Hook and San Bernardino used weapons bought by others, shielding them from background checks. In other cases, the shooters legally bought guns….the suspect in a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, should have been flagged at the time, but errors and delays cleared the way for his purchase.”

2. These measures are nothing new.
Laws ensuring that citizens who sell guns are licensed are already on the books. For example, the president claims that a new Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) guidance will help expand background checks by clarifying what defines a gun salesman. Various outside experts have debunked this claim as a gross exaggeration, if not an outright fabrication. “Taken at face value, the new ATF guidance is nothing more than a restatement of existing legal requirements,” says legal expert and law professor Jonathan Adler. “In other words, it is – as the document says – a guidance, and not a substantive rule. It has no legal effect.”

3. This is an attempt to intimidate law-abiding gun-owners.
Beyond distracting Americans from the president’s foreign and domestic policy failures, these executive actions serve another purpose: intimidation. The ATF guidance in particular intends to create ambiguity in existing law, complicating who may qualify as a gun salesmen versus private individuals who want to sell guns to a friend or family member. As constitutional law scholar Eugene Kontorovich explains, “The main point of this approach appears to be to create uncertainty for non-business dealers….under the ATF’s guidance it will be very hard for people to know in advance whether they will be considered ‘engaged in the business.’ Combined with the White House’s announcement that greater enforcement resources will be dedicated to these issues, the intended and likely effect will be to scare away those who legitimately do not need a license under current law.”

4. This is a distraction from the president’s disastrous policies.
Our economy is sluggish, Obamacare is failing, our energy policies are killing jobs, ISIS and other radical Islamic extremists are on the rise. And yet, in the face of these challenges, the president is spending the week before his final State of the Union address attempting to suppress Second Amendment rights. These actions are, first and foremost, an attempt by a lame duck president to maintain relevancy in a presidential year and distract from his disastrous policies at home and abroad. Speaker Ryan addressed this in an interview with Katie Couric for Yahoo! News, saying “What I think he’s trying to do is distract from basically his failed policies….I think a week [when] we can talk about gun control is a week we’re not talking about our failure to confront ISIS fully, the failure to take care of the threat that’s on our doorstep.”

5. We won’t let this take us off course.
We won’t let this take us off course. Earlier today, Speaker Ryan signed legislation repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood. This is the first time ever an Obamacare repeal bill will hit the president’s desk, and it clears the path for dismantling this law under a Republican president in 2017.

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