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Executive Gun Orders Again?

CAVEAT: I think the whole thing about how we do gun sale background checks is nonsense. But listen to me carefully on this. The new actions are simply a regulatory burden, which is what bureaucrats do. They regulate. With that caveat, here I go:
Obama-Executive-Orders-Gun-Control-300x232I can hear the screaming about President Obama’s “executive actions” already. However, the first phase that was announced isn’t that big of a deal. It just isn’t.

Now, to be sure, the actions taken by the President will have virtually no effect on the mass shootings that he wants to keep us all ginned up about. If you’ve done any research, you know that mass shooters of late (and historically) have obtained their guns “legally,” albeit either they lied or the government screwed up. The point is that a FFL (federal firearm licensee) sold most of those guns AFTER a background check. So this “gun show loophole” that is being closed will have little effect.

I’ll get to ulterior motives in another column, but for now, all that is happening is that the ATF is expanding what makes someone a gun dealer and subject to doing a background check on a customer. Right now, a FFL has to do a gun sale background check, but many “dealers” do not. What is a dealer? Ahh, that is the question. Let’s say I have 100 guns that I’ve collected over the years and I want to sell them. Am I a dealer? Probably not under current law. What about if I buy and sell guns as part of my “hobby,” am I a dealer? Maybe. Intent and profit are two key buzzwords under current regulations.

What we hear the President saying is that he is expanding the definition of a gun dealer. That folks is simply a regulatory action. We don’t like it because of the slippery slope argument. We don’t like it because we argue it is an “infringement” on the Second Amendment. Both of those are good arguments for another day. But what makes someone a gun dealer is already set by regulation. Bureaucrats change regulations ALL THE TIME. This is simply a redefinition of that existing regulation.

An example: Did you know that if you sell five or more used cars in Georgia in a calendar year, you are considered (prima facie) a used car dealer and subject to regulation? O.C.G.A. 43-47-2. But if you sell 100 guns a year from your personal collection, you might not be considered a gun dealer.

Further, did you know that eight states already require universal background checks for ALL gun sales? CA, CO, CT, DE, NY, OR, RI and WA (plus DC, but it’s not a state) already have vastly expanded the background check law to include ALL sales. This new or proposed federal regulation isn’t even going that far.

Once you allow bureaucrats to be bureaucrats, you start getting ever increasing restrictions on your lives. This is just such an example. Freedom was cool, too bad we didn’t stick with it.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see and visit his website at to view prior columns.

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