Thoughts on yet another Obama “executive action” on guns

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Everyone is up in arms over some alleged proposed rulemaking from the Obama administration on background checks.

I don’t know of a formal rule proposal yet, so we’re evaluating this based on the word of gun-and law-ignorant liberal journalists talking to equally-ignorant partisan sources within the administration. But it seems like Obama wants to change the definition of “engaged in the business,” (which triggers the requirement to get an FFL) to include a sharp cutoff of some number of guns sold per year, like 50 or 100, thereby (maybe) forcing a few more people to get licenses, come under ATF scrutiny, and perform background checks.

This proposal actually has a good side and a bad side. Assuming people under the threshold are always safe from the FFL requirement, it would mean that the rule has gone from vague to very clear. Surely, that would mean some injustice (just as statutory rape laws result in injustice when somebody has a birthday), but it would also mean (as in the statutory rape cases), that anyone who wants to avoid violations knows exactly how to do it.

There is justice in that kind of clarity, even though there is also injustice in hard rules that don’t take individual circumstances into account.

Now, I actually suspect that it wouldn’t work like that. Probably it will be “anyone over 50 guns OR anyone ‘engaged in the business,’” meaning we get both kinds of injustice at once. But without an actual proposed rule, there’s no way to know for sure.

And, once again, I will blame Congress. When you pass a law that includes vague language like “engaged in the business,” the President gets to make up the law to suit himself. If we pro-gunners are serious about preventing this sort of thing, we need to demand crisply written gun laws rather than squishy stuff that can be easily turned against us.


(I am leaving aside the idiocy of this proposal, which would do nothing to stop crime.  In that sense, it’s exactly like every other Obama action).

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