By Ryan McMaken
The Obama Administration is planning new gun restrictions to be implemented by executive order.
According to gun industry insiders and others familiar with the proposals, the changes include requiring an expanded number of small-scale gun sellers to be licensed — and therefore conduct background checks — whenever selling a weapon. This wouldn’t close the so-called gun show loophole, though it has the potential to narrow it.
In response, the Conservative media has expressed the expected outrage, with Donald Trump declaring that "pretty soon, you won’t be able to get guns."
With these new measures, however, Obama isn't supporting anything that hasn't been supported by Republicans in the past.
Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have supported closing the so-called "gun show loophole," and both supported an "assault weapons" ban, which goes beyond what Obama is currently attempting.
Here's George W. Bush in 2004 saying "my view is clear. I do think we ought to extend the assault weapons ban...I believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere." Bush even attempts to portray himself as the "sensible" person in the room who supports more gun restrictions while others in both parties refused to support Bush's call for more restrictions.
Ronald Reagan also supported national background checks and in 1991 wrote a column in The New York Times calling for sweeping changes in federal law on handguns that would greatly restrict access. Remembering the assassination attempt against him, Reagan wrote:
This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now — the Brady bill — had been law back in 1981.
Reagan went on to bemoan the fact that there were not strong enough provisions for federal agents to punish gun dealers who are not thorough enough in their background checks.
Naturally, we should not expect anything less from Reagan, who as governor of California supported some of the most draconian gun laws ever passed in the state's history (up to that time.)
The right wing would have us believe that Obama is somehow unique in his animosity to guns, but if that's true it's only a small matter of degree. The fact is that every president during (at least) the past thirty years has been quite fond of restricting firearms ownership in the United States. This makes perfect sense, of course, since restricting gun ownership is the same thing as expanding the government's monopoly over the means of coercion.
Dreaming of a larger and more powerful government — something every president does — goes hand in hand with wanting to centralize and expand government power over weaponry.
Politicians like Obama, Bush, and Reagan have all decried the problem of gun violence one minute while advocating for more guns in the hands of government and its friends, whether it's selling military surplus to local police, or shipping guns to Central American, Syrian, or Iraqi death squads.
It's hard to know what a future Republican, if elected would suddenly decide he supports among gun control measures. But we can guess.
Chris Christie, the rapidly rising establishment darling among GOP candidates, has called Obama a petulant child for his gun control measures, but it's unclear that Christie would take a more gun-friendly position as president.
Christie has rightly criticized Obama's threatened use of executive orders to get around Congress, but in terms of gun control, Christie — the latest darling of the establishment GOP — supports some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and instructed his spokesperson in 2014 to note that Christie “supports New Jersey’s already tough gun laws.’’ New Jersey is perhaps the most restrictive state in the nation on guns.
Ultimately, however, Obama may not even need executive orders to expand background checks. After all, four Republicans, including Rep. Steve King of NY were sponsoring new legislation to expand them and close the "gun show loophole" in 2015.
No Evidence New Measures Would Work
Most important, though, is the fact that there's simply no evidence that new restrictions such as these would actually work.
Gun ownership is a simple matter of property rights. Owning a gun is no different from owning a computer or a car or real estate. All of these can be used for nefarious means, but with the exception of guns, people generally recognize that restriction of ownership in these cases should be determined on a case-by-case basis subject to due process. Few advocate for a nationwide ban on fast cars or alcoholic beverages even though the items annually are involved in thousands of fatalities.
Unfortunately, the public can be easily swayed to abandon basic property rights if it thinks that gun control "works."
There is no evidence, however, that it does work, since some of the states with the lowest homicide rates in the nation (lower even than Canada) also have some of the most unrestricted access to guns. Many states with highly restrictive gun laws, on the other hand, can have very restrictive gun laws. Moreover, there's no historical evidence that gun control has led to lower homicide rates in numerous foreign countries as well, including England, where homicide rates are higher now than they were before gun control became fashionable in that country.
At the same time, expanded background checks would have done little to nothing in restricting access to the famous mass shooters in recent years who have become the poster boys for the need for more gun control. Background checks only work on people with existing criminal records.
One might argue then, that this proves that total disarmament (of non-government agents) is the only answer. But even leftists admit that a "zero-gun America" is an "impossible dream." And, in the end, gun control advocates are left explaining how the number of guns in the US has exploded over the past 20 years while homicides have been cut in half.
This article was originally published at The Mises Institute.
From an escalating crisis in Saudi/Iranian relations to crashing markets in China, the prospects for peace and prosperity in the new year seem dim.
Those who advocate ending, instead of reforming, the welfare-warfare state are often accused of being “impractical.” Some of the harshest criticisms come from libertarians who claim that advocates of “purism” forgo opportunities to make real progress toward restoring liberty. These critics fail to grasp the numerous reasons why it is crucial for libertarians to consistently and vigorously advance the purist position.
First, and most important, those who know the truth have a moral obligation to speak the truth. People who understand the need for drastic changes in foreign, domestic, and, especially, monetary policy should not pretend that a little tinkering will fix our problems. Those who do so are just as guilty of lying to the public as is a promise-breaking politician. Attempting to advance liberty by lying is not just immoral; it is also a flawed strategy that is doomed to fail.
The inevitable failure of “reforms” that do not eliminate the market distortions caused by government intervention will be used to discredit both the freedom philosophy and its advocates. The result will be increased support for more welfare, more warfare, and more fiat money. Thus, those who avoid discussing the root causes of our problems, not those they smear as impractical purists, are the ones undermining liberty.
For example, many Obamacare opponents refuse to advocate for true free-market health care. Instead, they propose various forms of “Obamacare lite.” By ceding the premise that government should play a major role in health care, proponents of Obamacare lite strengthen the position of those who say the way to fix Obamacare is by giving government more power. Thus, Obamacare lite supporters are inadvertently advancing the cause of socialized medicine. The only way to ensure that Obamacare is not replaced by something worse is to unapologetically promote true free-market health care.
This is not to suggest libertarians should reject transitional measures. A gradual transition is the best way to achieve liberty without causing massive social and economic disruptions. However, we must only settle for compromises that actually move us in the right direction. So we should reject a compromise budget that “only” increases spending by 80 percent. In contrast, a budget that actually reduces spending by 20 percent would be a positive step forward.
Those who advocate a so-called extreme position can often move the center of political debate closer to the pure libertarian position. This can actually increase the likelihood of taking real, if small, steps toward liberty. More importantly, the best way to ensure that we never achieve real liberty is for libertarians to shy away from making the case for the free society.
Sometimes ideological movements are able to turn yesterday’s “fringe” ideas into today’s “mainstream” position. Just a few years ago it was inconceivable that a significant number of states would legalize medical and even recreational marijuana, or that a majority of states would have passed laws allowing citizens to openly carry firearms. The success of these issues is not due to sudden changes in public opinion, but to years of hard work by principled advocates and activists.
The ever-growing number of Americans who are joining the liberty movement are not interested in “reforming” the welfare-warfare state. They also have no interest in “fixing" the Federal Reserve via “rules-based” monetary policy. Instead, this movement is dedicated to auditing, then ending the Fed and stopping the government from trying to run the economy, run the world, and run our lives. If this movement refuses to compromise its principles, we may succeed in restoring a society of liberty, peace, and prosperity in our lifetimes.
By Adam Dick
Pursuant to the 2005 Real ID Act, the United States government is on schedule to prohibit many Americans from domestic flights unless they present US passports or other approved US government IDs in 2016. Expect the sweep of the prohibition to be vast given the US Department of Homeland Security represents that 28 states and all US territories produce IDs noncompliant with Real ID. In a US House of Representatives floor debate on the Real ID Act, then-Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) warned that voting for the bill is voting for a national ID card. “If a state opts out, nobody is going to accept their driver’s license,” said Paul.
Watch Paul’s complete House floor speech here:
Real ID is worse than just an authoritarian mandate for “showing our papers” because, Paul explains, the legislation provides no maximum limit on what, including biometric information and radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, the US government can require to be included on identification cards.
This article was originally published at The Ron Paul Institute.