Myth No. 4: The president’s Jan. 5 executive action on gun control represents landmark change regarding gun control.
- With few exceptions, Obama’s executive action on firearms is nothing more than rhetoric regarding the status quo. Many senators have long argued for better and more robust enforcement of existing laws that prohibit criminals from owning guns.
- It is the current law of the land that anyone engaged in the business of selling firearms must have a federal firearms license. The president’s action does not change current law, but merely restates existing court rulings on the meaning of “engaged in the business.”
Myth No. 5: The Obama administration has made firearms enforcement a priority.
- The Obama administration has used its limited criminal enforcement resources to focus on clemency for convicted and imprisoned felons, the investigation of police departments, and civil rights cases. The latter two categories represent important work, but the Department of Justice lost track of one of its core missions of enforcing criminal law: prosecuting violent criminals, including gun criminals.
- The Obama administration is only now making firearms enforcement a priority. Clearly, enforcing the gun laws is a new initiative, or one of the president’s actions would not have been informing all of the 93 U.S. attorneys about it.
- Proof of this lack of enforcement is revealed in the decline of weapons-related prosecutions during the Obama administration. As data obtained from the Executive Office of United States Attorneys, through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveal, firearms prosecutions are down approximately 25 percent under the Obama administration versus the last year of the Bush administration.
Myth No. 6: Mental health has nothing to do with gun control.
- People with certain levels of mental illness are not permitted to own guns. Many of the recent mass killings were committed by mentally ill individuals. One of the keys to preventing further mass shootings and violence committed with firearms is addressing the issue of mental health.
- Background checks to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining guns can work only if states provide mental health records to the NICS system. Too many states have failed to do so. Many of the worst offenders are states with the most stringent gun control laws. For multiple years now, many members of Congress have repeatedly called for and introduced legislation that would provide incentives for states to submit their mental health records for inclusion in the NICS database.
Myth No. 7: Obama’s executive action on gun control will thwart criminals’ ability to obtain firearms.
- The president’s executive action regarding firearms is focused primarily on individuals who attempt to purchase firearms through the background check process.
- Criminals, however, obtain firearms in myriad illegal ways, including home invasion robbery; trading narcotics for firearms; burglary of homes, vehicles, and businesses; and straw purchasing.
- My legislation, Senate Amendment 725, was specifically designed to combat the straw purchasing of firearms as well as firearms traffickers who transfer firearms to prohibited individuals and out-of-state residents.
Myth No. 8: There is a general consensus in America that greater gun control is needed to prevent mass shootings in the United States.
- Despite the president’s statement to the contrary, polls have shown that the majority of Americans do not believe that stricter gun control would reduce the number of mass shootings in the United States.
- The American public does not believe that making it harder for law-abiding Americans to obtain guns makes America safer. In fact, polls have shown that a majority of Americans thinks the United States would be safer if there were more individuals licensed and trained to carry concealed weapons. A majority opposes re-imposition of the “assault weapons” ban.
Myth No. 9: The terrorist “no-fly” list is a proper mechanism to bar Americans from purchasing firearms.
- The no-fly list is actually multiple lists, which are generated in secret and controlled by executive branch bureaucrats. The Second Amendment right to bear arms has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to be a fundamental right. This puts the right to bear arms in our most closely guarded rights, similar to the rights to free speech and freedom of religion. It is unconstitutional to deprive an American citizen of his Second Amendment right without notice and an opportunity to be heard.
Myth No. 10: Gun retailers need to step up and refuse to sell semi-automatic weapons.
- There is nothing unlawful about a semi-automatic firearm. A semi-automatic firearm simply means that a round is discharged with each pull of the trigger. These include most shotguns used for waterfowl hunting and rifles commonly used for target shooting.