Justice Department prepares raft of new gun restrictions

I’ve got a pen and a phone.”
– President Barack Obama, January 14, 2014.

His efforts to enact new restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of Americans through the normal legislative process may have failed, but the President is clearly ready to give it the old college try and have the Justice Department ram through some new gun control rules. Of course, “new” is a bit of a misnomer in this case because it’s more of the same old tricks we’ve seen before. As The Hill reports, we should expect to see the finished version of these plans by the end of the year as Barack Obama tries to cement his legacy as a hero to liberal gun grabbers.


The Justice Department plans to move forward this year with more than a dozen new gun-related regulations, according to list of rules the agency has proposed to enact before the end of the Obama administration.

The regulations range from new restrictions on high-powered pistols to gun storage requirements. Chief among them is a renewed effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unstable or have been convicted of domestic abuse.

We won’t have the specifics for a while yet, but it’s pretty much the same script we’ve seen in the past.

The Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is looking to revive a rule proposed way back in 1998 that would block domestic abusers from owning guns.

As proposed, the regulation makes it illegal for some who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to own a gun…

The ATF is also looking to prohibit the mentally ill from owning firearms, which is attracting even more criticism from gun rights groups.

The President is expected to continue invoking horrible mass shootings such as Sandy Hook as he makes his pitch for these changes. That’s a powerful emotional totem to be sure, but as in times past it fails to pass the smell test when looked at in the cold, harsh light of reality. The “high power pistol” ban is nothing but a feel-good pitch meant to appeal to members of the anti-gun rights crowd who spend too much time watching old movies. Mass shooters don’t generally go after their victims with a Desert Eagle or a Dirty Harry style .357 magnum. For one thing, they take too long to reload unless you’re an experienced owner. Also, the cowardly maniacs who engage in such shootings aren’t going to be all that concerned with maximum stopping power since they almost always go after soft targets.


The appeal to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is a powerful one, particularly in today’s media climate. And to be sure, actual perpetrators of domestic violence should not be trusted with weapons if they have so little control over their temper. But as with all things, such instances need to be evaluated on a case by case basis. Blanket bans for misdemeanor convictions such as the one being proposed can wind up sweeping all sorts of folks into the net, such as the Florida woman recently charged with slapping her annoying husband during an argument. Does anyone think she should be included based on nothing more than that?

The real big ticket item here is the mental illness play. After all, who wants crazy people to have guns? But as with the domestic abuse provisions, crazy can be in the eye of the beholder, and blanket restrictions (as opposed to case by case evaluations) open the door to massive abuse, as has been proven repeatedly on the state level. The truly unstable and dangerously mentally ill may certainly have their Second Amendment rights suspended, but it needs to be conclusively proven, with the “accused” having a chance to defend themselves from the charge. (This is particularly true when they have not even been accused of any violent crime yet.) New York State has set the example for the rest of the nation, generating a list of tens of thousands of residents who are “ineligible” to exercise their Second Amendment rights on these grounds under the SAFE Act. Many lost their rights for nothing more than having previously sought treatment or therapy for problems like anxiety or depression. Sweeping regulations like this on the national level could generate a similar list with numbers in the tens of millions.


In the end, rules like this have basically nothing to do with public safety, but instead are focused on government control and sending a message. Rick Moran summarizes what this is really all about.

Some of those rules will be tied up in court for years, but Obama senses that the next president will not have a favorable view of gun control and wants to stamp his anti-gun legacy on as much as possible before he leaves.

The restrictions on high-powered pistols have nothing to do with mass murders, of course, since none of them have ever been used in school shootings or other mass killings. And the “gun safety” requirements are already practiced by responsible gun owners without the nanny state looking over their shoulders. As with most gun control efforts, the rules are not about safety or security, but rather about control. Some people believe that others shouldn’t be able to own guns and if they do, they are going to make their lives miserable for them.

With luck, Rick is correct and these rules will be immediately challenged and tied up in court until well after Obama leaves office. And with a lot more luck (and hard work) the next Oval Office occupant will be someone less willing to infringe on your rights and the problem will solve itself. But if not… fasten your seat belts. It may be a bumpy ride.

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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | February 29, 2024