You have probably seen the news that Obama is preparing new gun control regs–some of it hyperventilating or outraged. What you probably haven’t seen, are links to the proposed regulations so that you can read them for yourself.
I’ve read a number of them, and they go from “not a huge deal” to “bad.” One thing I don’t agree with is the commentary that Obama is doing an “end run around Congress.” No, as I have said before, all of this is on Congress–they made these laws that authorize these regulations, and they can unmake them if they have the stones to do so.
To begin with, the “unified agenda” of the DoJ is here. There’s a lot of non-gun stuff there, but as I’m not going to link to all of the gun stuff, go check it out for yourself if you worry about guns and non-immigrant aliens or federal prisons.
It has been reported that Obama is regulating “high power pistols,” which as usual with the media, is nonsense. The proposed amendment to the definition of “pistol” under the National Firearms Act is unsurprising and of limited relevance. They are adding in language that defines things like penguns, wallet guns, pager guns, and similar “disguised” firearms as “any other weapon,” and therefore subject to regulation. This should surprise no one, it has been the policy of the ATF all along, and now they’re just putting in the regulation. Personally, I think the whole NFA is a joke (what criminal has ever registered his sawed-off shotgun?), but again that’s on Congress to fix.
The “safe storage” rules are similarly unexciting. They haven’t put forth the actual rule yet, but if the media reports made you think they were going to be coming into your home to inspect your safe, that was misleading. They want FFL’s to promise “that secure gun storage or safety devices will be available at any place where firearms are sold to nonlicensed individuals.” That’s an irritating paperwork requirement for legitimate businesses and an annoying addition to your inventory if you are a small operation, but considering how many gun stores stock safes and trigger locks anyway, it probably won’t affect anything much. However, there will be a comment period if you want to complain!
There rule on gun possession by those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence is traceable directly to statutory language (again, enacted by Congress), and amazingly, was first proposed and commented on in 1998, yet somehow never became a “final” rule. It has been a “temporary” rule for 17 years. Nothing seems to be changing other than the “final” status of the rule.
There will also be a new rule on how to mark silencers, the text of which has not yet been proposed. Important if you manufacture them, not so much if you are just a customer.
Now for the bad one: the ATF wants to make gun trusts irrelevant. The primary advantage of a gun trust (or other corporate entity for the possession of NFA firearms) is the elimination of the requirement that the local “Chief Law Enforcement Officer” sign off on your desire to own an NFA weapon (the fingerprint and background check requirement were also eliminated). These requirements were avoided by the formation of a gun trust. The ATF is reinstating all of them by requiring a “responsible individual” to be fingerprinted, photographed, and receive a CLEO signature in order for a trust or other corporate entity to receive an NFA weapon. The logic behind the requirements is…stupid. The ATF is concerned that criminals may use gun trusts to acquire machine guns. Yes, that seems VERY likely, doesn’t it? Why wouldn’t a criminal submit detailed info to the ATF and wait 6 months to get permission to buy a gun they want to use for a murder? But the ATF does have the law on their side here; this is what the statute authorizes and the fact that you could avoid the rules by forming a trust was inevitably going to get their attention.
Now, they are throwing law abiding gun owners one bone here. They are removing the language from the CLEO certificate that the CLEO must opine that the owner will not “use the firearm for other than lawful purposes.” Some CLEOs are worried about legal liability, so that change might make some of them more willing to sign. However, it is still the case that a local official can prevent you from lawfully owning an NFA weapon merely by refusing to sign your certificate. That is absurd and contrary to the Constitution…but unfortunately the courts have not yet agreed with me on that point.
The reporting on this issue has been terrible; go ahead and read for yourself. I’m not happy about the new rule on gun trusts but otherwise this stuff won’t change much. It is being overhyped as “Obama is a tyrant,” when in reality, the story is some combination of “yawn” and “laws passed by Congress are tyrannical.”