President Barack Obama has announced a series of executive orders that will place stronger restrictions on the sale of firearms. The mandates will require that background checks must be performed on all gun sales, including sales from one’s personal collection and those who only sell firearms on a limited basis. Gun sales over the internet will also be affected.
While only a small percentage of gun sales will be affected by the new policy, the move expected to receive heavy criticism from pro-gun groups and individuals. Any sellers who try to work around the law will be prosecuted under federal law.
As part of the process, the Obama administration is planning to hire hundreds of new workers who will modernize the system of background checks and to handle the greater number of requests for background checks that are expected to come in. Additionally, President Obama is seeking $500 million that will be used for new mental health research. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services is working to remove some obstacles of having to report one’s mental health status to the background check system.
For gun sellers, the most concerning aspect of the mandates is the widened definition of a gun dealer. The plan focuses on small-time firearm sellers, many of whom conduct business from homes, gun shows or over the internet. At the present time, these small-time sellers are not required to maintain a license or submit names for federal background checks.
However, it is unlikely that the new policy will prevent many criminals from obtaining guns. Most of the weapons used in recent mass shootings were legally obtained, as the shooters went through and successfully passed background checks. Also, studies have shown that very few criminals obtain weapons through gun shows or pawn shops, as the vast majority of weapons used in crimes are obtained from friends or family, through a street sale or through legal means.
Nevertheless, the President is moving full steam ahead with the initiative saying, “Although we have to be very clear that this is not going to solve every violent crime in this country, it’s not going to prevent every mass shooting, it’s not going to keep every gun out of the hands of a criminal, it will potentially save lives and spare families the pain and the extraordinary loss that they suffer as a consequence.”
In 2015, more than 23.1 million firearm background checks were processed, representing a 2.2 million increase over 2014.
As expected, the move has already received heavy backlash from groups like the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. However, brick and mortar gun shops will actually be pleased with the new requirements, as they often face competition from small-time gun sellers who aren’t required to perform background checks.