Should Obama follow through on his threat, he will once again be playing straight into his opponents’ hands. Thus far in 2015, Americans have bought at least 15.2 million guns — five times as many as exist in total in Britain or Australia. Ceteris paribus, they are on track to buy another five million by the end of the year. If the past is anything to go by, executive action will serve only to increase, not decrease, that number.
And for what gain? The hope of catching a handful of high-volume private sellers and then walking into a buzzsaw in the courts? I am not a Democrat, nor am I much interested in further gun-control measures. But if I were, this development would alarm me. From all that I am told, Obama is effective because he is cool and calculating; because he has a solid grasp of when to fight and when to pull punches; because his instincts are sublime and exquisite and unprecedented in their magnificence. Is he really hoping to trade the most Lilliputian of regulatory advances for another 50 percent rise in the value of Smith & Wesson’s already burgeoning stocks?