With the executive orders on gun control handed down earlier this week (they weren't actually orders, nor do they actually do anything, I'll get to that later) I thought perhaps it might be useful to define a few terms.
First, "Assault Weapon."
Sorry but there am no such thing. An "Assault Rifle" is a very specific class of military weapon. They are intermediate caliber (between pistol and rifle) select fire weapons (means they can fire either semi-auto or full auto) available — without special license — only to the military.
The weapons the gun control advocates are screaming about, mostly the AR-15 family, are more properly termed "Modern Sporting Rifles." These are all semi-automatic rifles in various calibers which merely look similar to their military cousins, but are not the same weapon at all.
Even "modern" is something of a misnomer, as the AR-15 family of rifles are a 50 year-old design. The oldest members are classed by federal law as "curios or relics" and have zero restrictions at all.
Next, the "gun show loophole."
Another one that does. Not. Exist.
Anyone who purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer must undergo a background check. Period. Dot.
What the president is complaining about are sales or trades between private individuals who are not dealers. Those are not, and should not be, subject to background checks. However, at most gun shows ATF agents are on site and there are always police around, either as security, shopping, or both. Any private seller who has reservations can have a background check done. It should also be noted that gun dealers are obsessive about following the law. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is notably humorless about paperwork and is known for extensive proctological exams of dealers for any excuse or no excuse.
Again, doesn't exist. You cannot, currently, by federal law, ship a firearm to anyone directly. That's been the law since John F. Kennedy was assassinated. When you purchase a firearm from, say, Gunbroker.com, you then designated an FFL (gun dealer) for the gun to be shipped to. When you pick it up, he does two things. First, he charges you for doing a background check, and then he does a background check. So, no, no one who obeys the law is purchasing firearms over the Internet without background checks. And no, contrary to what the president said, no dealer is selling without a check.
Moreover, Obama's "executive orders" for the most part (there's a couple troubling things in there I'll get to at a later date) were merely guidance to the ATF to do — what they're already doing.
In point of fact, the president's actions (one of which was to direct the hiring of more ATF agents to run the background check system) will actually make it easier to buy a gun as it reduces the wait times for the checks.
None of this would have done anything to stop any of the mass shootings we've had of late (and no, there has not actually been more than 350 of them. That stat was pulled from, of all places, reddit.com, it should also be noted that the violent crime rate is down by more than 50 percent since 1997, by the FBI's own statistics) nor would any of this prevent any criminal who wants a gun from obtaining them. Criminals do not, by definition, obey the law.
Bottom line, this is just more do-nothing optics from a president who neither understands, nor respects the Constitution.
All IMHO, of course.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.