Obama’s Coming Unconstitutional Gun Grab
This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published January 4, 2016 on PJ Media.
On Monday, President Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch to cook up ways to restrict Second Amendment rights. True to form, Obama is unconcerned with the law, and appears committed to imposing federal restrictions on gun rights no matter what. Two possible options are emerging.
First, by edict Obama may try to use the “no-fly” list as a way to prevent some Americans from purchasing firearms. Second, Obama may try to stretch the definition of a firearms dealer beyond the existing statutory law, and require federal background checks prior to a purchase.
Both are arbitrary and unconstitutional.
If the no-fly list was ever used to prohibit the exercise of Second Amendment rights, then I wouldn’t have been able to purchase a firearm. For a time, I was on the no-fly list. The name “John Christian Adams” satisfied the searching qualifications to land on the terrorist list. Sharing the name of the second president —- and throwing in the word “Christian” for good measure —- apparently tripped some federal trigger.
The no-fly list is a mess, a meaningless glob of false positives. But that’s precisely why it would be so attractive to President Obama and his gang of merry progressives working in the federal bureaucracy —- it would spread the bad news around. It would prevent law-abiding citizens who are not jihadists from purchasing firearms. In other words, its a gun controller’s dream.
For Obama to even consider using the no-fly list demonstrates he’s more hostile to constitutional freedoms than he is to jihadists on American soil. Instead of worrying about guns, he should be worried about the tens of thousands of foreigners overstaying their visas and crossing illegally through the southern border.
If the safety of Americans were President Obama’s real concern, he’d have different priorities.
So expect Obama to do what he does best —- ignore the law and impose a federal edict over an area where the federal government has no statutory power. Expect Obama to require federal background checks on firearms purchases currently exempted by federal law from requiring background checks.
It works like this. Under the current law, if I wanted to sell you one of my firearms, you would give me cash, and I’d give you a gun. I do not need a federal firearms license to sell you my gun because it is my private property and I am not a gun dealer. In fact, Congress specifically exempted me from federal oversight when it defined a federal firearms dealer in 18 U.S.C. §921 (a)(11).
The law very clearly says that you are not a firearms dealer if you make “occasional sales, exchanges, or purchases of firearms for the enhancement of a personal collection or for a hobby, or who sells all or part of his personal collection of firearms.” The law does not limit the size of a personal collection. For years, foes of the Constitution have sought to change this law. Both Republican- and Democrat-controlled Congresses have failed to amend this safe harbor because the majority of Americans believe in the Second Amendment.
The right to bear arms, as the Supreme Court has made clear, is an individual right that aligns with the moral imperative of self-defense. The evil attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have illustrated for a new generation of Americans the moral imperative of self-defense through firearms ownership.
But that isn’t stopping Obama and Lynch. Expect their left-wing Ivy League lawyers at the Justice Department to find ways around Section 921’s exemption. They’ll perhaps argue that if you market your firearms broadly to the public, you aren’t managing a personal collection or engaging in a hobby. Or perhaps they will deem the word “occasional” in the statute to mean “irregular” or “rare.”
This is how the federal government works —- packs of lawyers unmoored from a grounding in liberty will invent new and oh-so-clever readings of a law passed by Congress to undo what the Congress did. It’s what happens all the time in the age of Obama, and if anyone thinks it will stop after Obama leaves office, they don’t understand how Washington works.
But the Courts Will Stop It!, you can almost hear some litigious members of Congress say. By then the damage is already done: the pain is the process; the pain is the notice letters from the Justice Department to 2,000 occasional gun sellers, 1,000 of them who judge it not worth the risk to continue. The pain is the warrants and subpoenas to obtain the names of people who purchased booths at gun shows across the nation. The pain is the depletion of savings accounts to mount a criminal defense in the face of unlimited federal resources to press the ideological agenda.
This is how the progressive left operates when in power. It does battle on the legal margins and engages in courageous ideological incrementalism so saturated with legalese that most Americans can’t understand the fight.
Obama has grown very comfortable attacking Constitutional rights by edict and executive action. He is a president at odds with a long bipartisan tradition of respect for Constitutional values. Presidents up to this point have mostly respected core constitutional liberties, but this president is a menace to the Constitution.
Americans are a well armed people, they treasure their Constitutional rights to defend themselves and their Constitution.
I’m frequently asked what can be done about it. Impeachment of the president is not the answer because it would only strengthen Obama, not weaken him. It is a waste of time. But impeachment of any attorney general or assistant attorney general who oversees such an anti-constitutional act is a different beast. Better still, hold the individual federal employees that design and implement any federal gun grab accountable, both in Congress and in the public discourse. We all know who Lois Lerner is. Let’s see who will be the face of Obama’s coming gun grab.