EXCLUSIVE: OBAMA OFFERS NEW GUN CONTROL STEPS

Vice President Biden spoke in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, before the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Director Todd Jones. The Obama administration announced new steps on gun control, curbing the import of military surplus weapons and proposing to close a loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks by registering guns to corporations.
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By JOSH LEDERMAN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Striving to take action where Congress would not, the Obama administration announced new steps Thursday on gun control, curbing the import of military surplus weapons and proposing to close a little-known loophole that lets felons and others circumvent background checks by registering guns to corporations.

Four months after a gun control drive collapsed spectacularly in the Senate, President Barack Obama added two more executive actions to a list of 23 steps the White House determined Obama could take on his own to reduce gun violence. With the political world focused on Mideast tensions and looming fiscal battles, the move signaled Obama’s intent to show he hasn’t lost sight of the cause he took up after 20 first graders and six adults were gunned down last year in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Vice President Joe Biden, Obama’s point-man on gun control after the Newtown tragedy thrust guns into the national spotlight, unveiled the new actions Thursday at the White House.

“It’s simple, it’s straightforward, it’s common sense,” Biden said in the Roosevelt Room.

One new policy will end a government practice that lets military weapons, sold or donated by the U.S. to allies, be reimported into the U.S. by private entities, where some may end up on the streets. The White House said the U.S. has approved 250,000 of those guns to be reimported since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other entities like the government will be eligible to reimport military-grade firearms.

The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from skirting the law by registering certain guns, like machine guns and short-barreled shotguns, to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register those types of guns.

“It’s a very artful dodge to get around people who are not capable, constitutionally or legally, of owning a weapon,” Biden said.

The National Rifle Association dismissed the administration’s moves as misdirected, arguing that background checks for corporations and a ban on reimporting outdated guns wouldn’t keep criminals from getting weapons.

“The Obama administration has once again completely missed the mark when it comes to stopping violent crime,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners.”

Joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, Biden formally unveiled the new measures Thursday while swearing in Todd Jones, whose confirmation to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after six years of political wrangling to fill that position was another of Obama’s post-Newtown priorities. A Senate deal to approve the president’s pending nominations after Democrats threatened to change Senate rules cleared the way for Jones’ confirmation last month.

Still out of reach for Obama were the steps that gun control advocates and the administration’s own review say could most effectively combat gun violence in the U.S., like an assault weapons ban and fewer exceptions for background checks for individual sales. Only Congress can act on those fronts.

There is scant evidence that support for gun control legislation has grown substantially since April, when efforts died in the Senate amid staunch opposition from the NRA and most Republican senators.

“Sooner or later, we are going to get this right,” Obama said that day in the White House Rose Garden, with the families of Newtown victims and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — herself a victim of a gunman — at his side. “The memories of these children demand it, and so do the American people,” the president said at the time.

In the months following the Senate vote, Biden has claimed that at a handful of lawmakers who opposed expanded background checks have told him privately they’ve changed their minds and want another chance. But Biden and White House officials have not named any of those lawmakers.

Renewing his pledge to keep working for legislative fixed, Biden suggested that one opportunity for improving prospects for gun control may come next year in the midterm elections. Liberal groups and those supporting gun control have vowed to hold accountable in 2014 those lawmakers who voted against gun control.

“If Congress won’t act, we’ll fight for a new Congress,” Biden said. “It’s that simple. But we’re going to get this done.”

These days, Obama and Biden mention gun control with far less regularity than when it appeared the Senate was poised to take action, although Obama did meet Tuesday with 18 city mayors to discuss ways to contain youth violence. And with immigration and pressing fiscal issues dominating Congress’ agenda, the prospects for reviving gun legislation appear negligible.

With Jones’ confirmation at ATF, the White House has completed or made significant progress on all but one of the 23 executive actions Obama had previously ordered in January, the White House said. Still lingering is an effort to finalize regulations to require insurers to cover mental health at parity with medical benefits, although the White House said that it is committed to making that happen by the end of 2013.

The new rules for guns registered to corporations will follow the traditional regulatory process, with a 90-day comment period before ATF reviews suggestions and finalizes the rule. It would only apply to certain types of guns that must be federally registered. Last year, ATF received 39,000 requests to register guns to corporations and trusts.

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FACT SHEET: NEW EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO REDUCE GUN VIOLENCE

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

Today, the Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013.Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the President and Vice President remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence.

Building on the 23 Executive Actions the President and Vice President Unveiled Last January

  • Last December, the President asked the Vice President to develop a series of recommendations to reduce gun violence. On January 16, 2013, they released these proposals, including 23 executive actions. With the first Senate confirmation of an ATF Director on July 31, 2013, the Administration has completed or made significant progress on 22 of the 23 executive actions. The new executive actions unveiled today build on this successful effort.

Closing a Loophole to Keep Some of the Most Dangerous Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

  • Current law places special restrictions on many of the most dangerous weapons, such as machine guns and short-barreled shotguns.  These weapons must be registered, and in order to lawfully possess them, a prospective buyer must undergo a fingerprint-based background check.
  •  However, felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check and gain access to machine guns or other particularly dangerous weapons by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation.  At present, when the weapon is registered to a trust or corporation, no background check is run.  ATF reports that last year alone, it received more than 39,000 requests for transfers of these restricted firearms to trusts or corporations.
  • Today, ATF is issuing a new proposed regulation to close this loophole.  The proposed rule requires individuals associated with trusts or corporations that acquire these types of weapons to undergo background checks, just as these individuals would if the weapons were registered to them individually.  By closing this loophole, the regulation will ensure that machine guns and other particularly dangerous weapons do not end up in the wrong hands.

Keeping Surplus Military Weapons Off Our Streets

  • When the United States provides military firearms to its allies, either as direct commercial sales or through the foreign military sales or military assistance programs, those firearms may not be imported back into the United States without U.S. government approval.  Since 2005, the U.S. Government has authorized requests to reimport more than 250,000 of these firearms.
  • Today, the Administration is announcing a new policy of denying requests to bring military-grade firearms back into the United States to private entities, with only a few exceptions such as for museums.  This new policy will help keep military-grade firearms off our streets.

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OBAMA’S ‘NEW EXECUTIVE ACTIONS’ ON GUN CONTROL; TWO NEW MEASURES

By DANIEL HALPER | The Weekly Standard

The White House just announced two new executive measures for gun control. The announcement came to reporters via email.

“FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence,” the subject of the announcement reads.

“Today, the Obama administration announced two new common-sense executive actions to keep the most dangerous firearms out of the wrong hands and ban almost all re-imports of military surplus firearms to private entities. These executive actions build on the 23 executive actions that the Vice President recommended as part of the comprehensive gun violence reduction plan and the President unveiled on January 16, 2013,” reads the White House’s announcement.

Even as Congress fails to act on common-sense proposals, like expanding criminal background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime, the President and Vice President remain committed to using all the tools in their power to make progress toward reducing gun violence.

Building on the 23 Executive Actions the President and Vice President Unveiled Last January

·         Last December, the President asked the Vice President to develop a series of recommendations to reduce gun violence. On January 16, 2013, they released these proposals, including 23 executive actions. With the first Senate confirmation of an ATF Director on July 31, 2013, the Administration has completed or made significant progress on 22 of the 23 executive actions. The new executive actions unveiled today build on this successful effort.

Closing a Loophole to Keep Some of the Most Dangerous Guns Out of the Wrong Hands

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DEMOCRATS PROPOSE MASSIVE TAX HIKE ON GUNS AND AMMO

Written by  Brian Koenig | The New American

In an effort to reignite the gun-control debate, two Democratic lawmakers are proposing massive tax hikes on handguns and ammunition, while linking the revenues with programs to prevent gun violence. Sponsored by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), the “Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act” is ambitious, to say the least, as it would nearly double the current 11-percent tax on handguns, while lifting the tax on bullets and cartridges from 11 percent to 50 percent.

Articles taxable at 20 percent under the proposed legislation would include pistols, revolvers, and any “lower frame or receiver for a firearm, whether for a semiautomatic pistol, rifle, or shotgun that is designed to accommodate interchangeable upper receivers.” Meanwhile, taxes on firearm shells and cartridges would rise a whopping 40 percent.

In addition, the gun transfer tax would more than double under the legislation, upping the levy on all weapons (excluding antique firearms) covered under the National Firearms Act from $200 to $500.

“As a former mayor of one of the largest cities in New Jersey, I know how critical the issue of reducing gun violence is to our communities,” Rep. Pascrell, co-Chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus, said of the legislation. “This bill represents a major investment in the protection of our children and our communities, and reflects the long-term societal costs of gun and ammunition purchases in our country.”

The two lawmakers claim their legislation would generate $600 million per year, and would be used to support law-enforcement measures and gun-violence prevention programs. According to a press release published on Rep. Pascrell’s website, the bill would allocate revenues in the following manner:

The Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act will direct the estimated $600 million in new revenue to programs designed to make communities safer and reduce violence, including: Project Safe Neighborhood Grants; Community-Oriented Policing Grants; Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiative Grants; research into the causes and prevention of gun violence via the Center[s] for Disease Control’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; the National Criminal History Improvement Program; the NICS Record Improvement Program; and grants to encourage schools and districts to implement comprehensive, evidence-based discipline systems to improve school climate.

Considering the bill’s glaring demands — and the fact that it’s being proposed in the Republican-controlled House — critics predict defeat for the measure. “I doubt this bill will pass, but we will lobby against it if need be,” declared Alan Gottlieb, who chairs the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. “This is simply another shot against gun owners in this country.”

“What the anti-gun interests can’t ban, they want to tax it out of existence,” he added. “It’s nothing more than confiscatory taxation.”

Still, Reps. Davis and Pascrell’s bill could mark a change in gun-control strategy by anti-gun lawmakers. Courts continue to rule in favor of Americans’ rights to bear arms. Increasing taxes on guns and ammo, however, could be a backdoor to new gun-control policies.

Davis, who represents parts of Chicago that have been ravaged by gun violence in recent years, claims the new taxes are critical to purging violent crimes in his district. In a press release, he stated:

Gun violence in America has reached epidemic proportions and we cannot, as a nation, any longer tolerate the on-going social and economic costs of inaction. Gun violence is a daily reality for America and, in particular, for urban cities like Chicago. The crisis should outrage us all. This legislation is a pro-active approach to reducing gun violence by using proven preventive programs which have been starved for funds until now. As part of a comprehensive, multidimensional strategy to reduce gun violence, this legislation closes major loopholes in tax law and lays out an equitable, long term, sustainable strategy to provide the requisite resources.

Of course, Davis fails to correlate the soaring crime rates in his city with the severe gun-control laws that restrict citizens from protecting their own life and property. Indeed, Chicago has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the nation, yet homicides and other gun-related crimes are as prevalent as ever.

Illinois, for example, was the last state in the country to adopt a concealed carry gun law, which was passed earlier this summer. The state also has rigid background-check laws that help keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. This gun-control tactic, according to critics, only makes violent crimes more prevalent.

“Gun control policies don’t work because they disarm citizens while keeping criminals in possession of guns,” writes Charlie Vidal of PolicyMic. “Chicago’s strict policies have effectively given lawbreakers a monopoly on weapons in many parts of the city that the Chicago Police Department cannot or will not police effectively.”

A good contrast to Chicago for a natural experiment is Houston, Vidal asserts, as Houston has similar socioeconomic factors, such as density, population, and segregation. Like Chicago, Houston is a major hub for crimes such as human trafficking and drug trade. In terms of homicides, however, Houston has two-thirds the rate that Chicago has.

“This is because the people of Houston are well armed, while innocents in Chicago have been condemned to be sitting ducks,” Vidal explains.

While this comparison specifically addresses gun-control laws, taxes on firearms are a form of gun regulation, as they hinder law-abiding citizens from arming themselves. After all, nearly doubling the tax on gun purchases, combined with a 40-percent hike on ammo, is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

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