The Obama administration, after keeping gun control on the back burner for over two years, is prompting concern among gun rights groups that it's slowly starting to squeeze the trigger on tighter regulation.When it comes to gun control in this country, this is what frustrates me to no end about the Right: the sheer and stupid paranoia that develops anytime someone mentions doing something right about gun safety. I don't think that most people, Democrats included, have a problem with law-abiding citizens owning guns. It's lax gun laws and the like that lead to nuts like Jerad Loughner and/or criminals in general that must be changed. Thus, our leadership needs to step up, so give Barry credit for standing up to the NRA bullies and the rest of the far-Right crazies here. And hey, if they force Barry to go around Congress to make sure a Virginia Tech massacre or a Tuscon shooting doesn't happen again, much less save a life or two or three at the same time...then so be it.
In the wake of the January shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others, President Obama remained mostly quiet on the firearms front as lawmakers clamored for new restrictions. But the president has since made a public call for tougher background checks. The Justice Department launched a series of meetings with officials and advocates to examine gun control policy. And while gun-control bills in Congress have languished, the administration has started to chip around the edges with its own proposals.
"They're doing a pretty good job ... as Obama has said, 'under the radar.' There's a lot going on under that radar," Gun Owners of America Director Larry Pratt said, referring to a remark Obama reportedly made in a private meeting with gun control advocates. "They've shown us how much they are prepared to do through regulation."
Pratt pointed to two proposals in particular. Under one proposed rule from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, dealers in four Southwestern states would be required to report multiple sales to the same person of certain kinds of rifles. The proposed requirement -- which would apply to dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas -- is open for comment until the end of May. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence claims the change would help the ATF "crack down" on Mexico's gunrunners.
In addition, ATF released a study in January that looked at criteria for restricting the importation of certain shotguns. The authors were working off a 1968 law that restricts gun imports but exempts firearms used for "sporting purposes." The report, then, tried to define which features on shotguns are not suitable for "sporting purposes" and therefore not importable -- among the features they flagged are folding stocks, magazines over five rounds and "light enhancing devices."
The National Rifle Association has come out strong against this study.
Pratt said the shotgun restrictions, if approved, could lead to broader restrictions on other imported long guns -- at a time when the administration is trying to reduce federal regulations. Pratt also cited a decision last year to block the sale of U.S.-made antique rifles by the South Korean government to gun collectors in America. The State Department said at the time it was concerned the guns could fall into the wrong hands.
These smaller-scale proposals come in lieu of sweeping restrictions like the assault-weapons ban Obama supported as a candidate but has not pursued as president. Another proposal on the table calls for banning high-capacity magazines, but it has not advanced in Congress.