Following President Obama’s announcement of a series of executive orders intended to curb gun violence, gun advocates and experts in various disciplines are voicing their opinions in response.
On Tuesday January 5th, the National Rifle Association released a statement addressing the executive actions, which they described as “political rhetoric” rather than “meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems.” Their fundamental contention is that the executive actions both misrepresent the facts regarding lawful gun sales in the US and avoid other more effective measures in curbing violence.
Once again, President Obama has chosen to engage in political rhetoric, instead of offering meaningful solutions to our nation’s pressing problems. Today’s event also represents an ongoing attempt to distract attention away from his lack of a coherent strategy to keep the American people safe from terrorist attack.
The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts. The men and women of the National Rifle Association take a back seat to no one when it comes to keeping our communities safe. But the fact is that President Obama’s proposals would not have prevented any of the horrific events he mentioned. The timing of this announcement, in the eighth and final year of his presidency, demonstrates not only political exploitation but a fundamental lack of seriousness.
The proposed executive actions are ripe for abuse by the Obama Administration, which has made no secret of its contempt for the Second Amendment. The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms as guaranteed under our Constitution. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be harassed or intimidated for engaging in lawful, constitutionally-protected activity – nor will we allow them to become scapegoats for President Obama’s failed policies.
The same day, the National Shooting Sports Foundation also issued a statement, stressing their desire to prevent the “intentional misuse of guns” and promote safety and crime reduction. However, the NSSF also raises some concerns, citing the incredibly small number of firearms lost by or stolen from dealers every year, the limits of enforcement and smart-gun technology, and the active participation by firearms dealers in programs intended to curb violence and illegal weapons sales. The NSSF statement also praised improvements to NICS, citing their longstanding work in that direction.
We all share the goal of reducing the intentional misuse of guns and enhancing the safety of our communities. As the trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) will carefully review all aspects of the executive actions that President Obama announced today. Much remains to be spelled out. In the interim we have some initial reactions:
- We support further resources being allocated to staffing and increasing operational hours for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to make the system more efficient and responsive.
- We represent Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). The criteria for what will constitute being “engaged in the business” going forward needs considerable clarification and raises questions about enforceability.
- The number of firearms lost or stolen while in transit to or from FFLs is less than 0.15 percent of the number manufactured and imported in a given year. In these rare occurrences, FFLs already actively participate in ATF’s long-standing voluntary reporting program and FFLs and common carriers work closely with ATF to investigate them. Proposals to make a shipping FFL responsible for tracking and reporting firearms no longer in their inventories, after the legal title has been transferred to the purchaser, are misdirected, as the receiving FFL is in the best position to know if it receives its shipment.
- We have long called for the effective enforcement of the numerous laws already on the books regarding the criminal misuse of firearms and would encourage the administration to carry through on this directive.
- NSSF has been working actively since early 2013 through our FixNICS initiative to encourage states to report all appropriate adjudicated mental health records to NICS and has succeeded in getting legislation passed in more than a dozen states. We welcome the administration’s attention to this issue.
- With regard to the development of “smart-gun” technology, the industry has never opposed its development. How additional government research into this technology would advance it is unclear. Law enforcement agencies and consumers themselves will have to make the determination whether acquisition of firearms with this technology “would be consistent with operational needs,” as the White House itself states. We would continue to oppose mandates for this technology, particularly since there are well proven existing methods to secure firearms, and firearms accidents are at historic low levels.
NSSF will have additional responses in the days, weeks and months ahead, especially as federal departments and agencies begin the work of carrying out the executive orders.
Outside the gun advocacy community, other voices questioned the ability of these executive actions to curb crime in any form. James B. Jacobs, Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and Director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University, stated that, “”It’s not ever going to be difficult to get a firearm, just like it’s not ever going to be difficult to get illegal drugs. What makes us think that we can now create a regime that will make guns hard to obtain for someone who wants to obtain them?”