Heartland Institute Experts React to President Obama’s Executive Order on Guns

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Heartland Institute Gun-Rights Expert: "There’s almost no link between violence and gun laws."

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Steve Stanek, research fellow, The Heartland Institute

This is the safest the nation has been in at least 50 years, when there were almost no gun control laws compared to today, showing there’s almost no link between violence and gun laws

President Barack Obama today announced 10 new executive actions he says are designed to reduce gun violence in the United States. Among the measures are strengthening background checks for the purchase of firearms, increased mental health reporting into the background check system, and increasing the budget of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The following statements from Second Amendment experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000.

“Obama’s hometown of Chicago saw 467 murders in 2015 and 943 murders as recently as 1992. Nationally, the murder rate is less than half what it was in the early 1990s and similar to early 1960s levels, when there were no background checks, waiting periods, or age limits to buy guns, no licensing of gun dealers, and no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

“These facts tell us at least two things: 1) This is the safest the nation has been in at least 50 years, when there were almost no gun control laws compared to today, showing there’s almost no link between violence and gun laws, and 2) the nation’s major news media and politicians are making America sound much scarier than it really is. They’ve done this knowing that frightened people are more willing to hand power to government.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow
The Heartland Institute
sstanek(at)heartland(dot)org
312/377-4000

“Gun buyers and sellers should follow federal and state laws and disregard the president’s feckless ‘orders.’ It is a diversion from problems of war in the Middle East, terrorism in the West, slow recovery, huge buildup of national debt, China assertion of power in Asia, Russian incursions in Europe, etc. Media and citizens should not take the bait.”

Michael Warder
Vice Chancellor (retired), Pepperdine University
Principal, The Warder Consultancy
michael(at)thewarderconsultancy(dot)com
312/377-4000

“According to the White House, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will not have any clear rule on who qualifies as being ‘in the business’ of selling guns. Rather, it will have a vague standard that seems designed to create regulatory uncertainty and effectively obstruct any statutory safe harbor in 18 U.S.C.(a)(21)(C). Under the ATF’s approach ‘even a few transactions, when combined with other evidence, can be sufficient to establish that a person is “engaged in the business.”’ Such factors include ‘whether the seller processes credit cards, rents tables at gun shows and has formal business cards.’

“The main point of this approach appears to be to create uncertainty for non-business dealers. The statute passed by Congress is clearly intended to apply only to those who pursue gun sales as a substantial part of their ‘livelihoods.’ However, under the ATF’s guidance it will be very hard for people to know in advance whether they will be considered ‘engaged in the business.’ Combined with the White House’s announcement that greater enforcement resources will be dedicated to these issues, the intended and likely effect will be to scare away those who legitimately do not need a license under current law.”

Eugene Kontorovich
Professor of Law, Northwestern University
Policy Advisor, Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
e-kontorovich(at)law(dot)northwestern(dot)edu
312/377-4000

The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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Heartland Institute
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