Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Devil's In The (Lack Of) Details Of Obama's Gun Control Orders

By Seth Mason

Apart from the fact that executive orders are intended to direct the staff of the Executive Branch, not impose laws on the citizenry, the real malfeasance in the 23 orders regarding gun control Obama is expected to sign is, ironically, their generality. That is to say, they are subject to wide interpretation and have to the potential of being used to greatly expand the government's power over the American people without congressional authorization. The following are the orders that have the most potential for abuse:
Order #1: Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system. 
"Relevant data" is a highly subjective term. I wouldn't put it past enterprising bureaucrats to include web search history and Facebook activity in the "relevant" list. Order #1 is a Pandora's Box.
Order #2: Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
Again, the key word in this order is another highly subjective term. What is an "unnecessary legal barrier"? Privacy laws? Is HIPAA an "unnecessary legal barrier"? Another Pandora's Box.
Order #4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
This is some scary shit here. This is basically an order to profile innocent people to acertain the probability that they will use a firearm illegally. And again, subjectivity: the profile of a killer is in the eye of the beholder. If someone massacres a school "dressing metal", does everyone who dresses that way get placed on a list?
Order #14: Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
This order directs the CDC to discard scientific principles and start making *guesses* (which, of course, would be influenced by ideology). Correlations can be drawn regarding gun violence, but there are far too many variables in this world to determine a *cause* of any complex cultural phenomenon. (And, make no mistake, gun violence is an American cultural phenomenon.)
Order #16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes. 
Excuse me? Why would my doctor have any business knowing whether or not I own a gun? This order makes medical providers government snoops, whose information could be accessed by more easily as per order #2.
Order #21: Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
It would seem that medical benefits have nothing to do with the price of tea in China, but I could imagine that this order, in the context of gun control, opens the door to blacklisting. Those placed on "The List" authorized by orders #1 and #4 could potentially be denied coverage based on this order.

I'm sure some of the other orders could be abused as well. The Land of the Free gets freer every day!

The above originally appeared at Ecominoes and is reprinted here with permission.


  1. Order 23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

    It's interesting that this order name's specific individuals. The others do not. I wonder what Sebelius' and Duncan's stance on this issue is...

    I predict that towards the end of Obama's second term there will be calls for labeling the "anti-government" folk mentally ill. These executive orders are the camel's nose under the tent for the state's gun confiscation of those they ideologically disagree with.

  2. There should be just one law regarding firearms and citizens. That law should state that no minor may own a firearm. It should further state that every owner of a firearm must be a member of a local militia. Militias may exist at whatever level seems most workable, at the county, municipal, or some subsection of a municipality. Members of the militia will elect their leaders. The militias will be responsible for identifying those individuals in their territory who should not be allowed to use a firearm, and will enforce this judgement with the assistance of the local police. Those judged to be a potential danger to themselves or others with regard to firearm possession may appeal to the militia. Any person who misuses a firearm in a territory will be responsible for that misuse. In addition, the members of the local militia will also be responsible insofar as they did not prevent the misuse, and insofar as the misuse was foreseeable.

    This arrangement does a number of things. It guarantees the right of responsible adults to bear arms for the defense of themselves, their families, and neighbors. It prevents government from having any responsibility for gun control, and also prevents government from having the means to confiscate. It puts responsibility for gun control into the hands of responsible adults, and makes them liable for neglect.

    1. Here's a better idea: what about no federal firearms law; no stupid law requiring anyone to be a member of anything; and no governmental or quasi-governmental body on any level ("militias" included) with the tyrannical power to disarm any person it labels a "danger."

    2. Guise. We have to get everybody up to speed here, so the arguments don't have to backtrack on initial details.

      You probably already belong to the militia. There is no need to create a bunch of "sub"-militias. You already have a right to keep and bear arms. That right is protected, not granted, by the 2A. The president has already over-stepped his constitutional authority, as well as the most recent Supreme Court interpretations of it, w/r/t the 2A:

      USC › Title 10 › Subtitle A › Part I › Chapter 13 › § 311

      10 USC § 311 - Militia: composition and classes

      Current through Pub. L. 112-238. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)
      (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
      (b) The classes of the militia are—
      (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
      (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

      The relevant portion of 32 USC § 313 extends the age to 63 for veterans:

      USC › Title 32 › Chapter 3 › § 313

      32 USC § 313 - Appointments and enlistments: age limitations

      Current through Pub. L. 112-208. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)
      (a) To be eligible for original enlistment in the National Guard, a person must be at least 17 years of age and under 45, or under 64 years of age and a former member of the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, or Regular Marine Corps. To be eligible for reenlistment, a person must be under 64 years of age.
      (b) To be eligible for appointment as an officer of the National Guard, a person must—
      (1) be a citizen of the United States; and
      (2) be at least 18 years of age and under 64.

      The only people who are technically left out, under the most common mis-reading of the 2A, are those over 45, and women, who should be most upset about this. If you are a male US citizen between 18 and 45 you already belong to the unorganized militia whether you want to or not.

    3. ^^ What he said.

    4. The law Mr Wyatt is showing us is about a government militia ("militia of the United States"). It may exist on paper, but not otherwise. What I am talking about is a non-governmental, member-governed organization. Anonymous seems to think that it is okay for anyone at all to have and use a firearm. I have known several people who should never touch a gun. So the question is, who takes it from their hands: the government, or a non-government organization of gun owners? There is a related concept in Christianity called "fraternal correction". The more local this kind of action is, the better. It should be done within a family, but that cannot always happen (as in the case at Newtown).

    5. @DwightJohnson: But your hypothetical organization isn't "non-governmental," because 1.) membership therein is mandated by federal law; 2.) it coordinates its activities with local police, and, most notably, 3.) it asserts the power to initiate force.

      And yes, I'd rather take my chances with everyone being armed than to have a bunch of local yahoos, constituted as some sort of glorified "vigilance committee," given the power to disarm me should they ever decide I'm "dangerous." Moreover, what's to stop them from deeming me "dangerous" simply because I harbor unpopular political beliefs or because they dislike my religion or because I'm in some fashion eccentric or socially marginal? What's tyranny when Washington does it and still tyranny when you and your neighbors do it.

    6. 1) I did not say “federal” law. Even in societies without governments there are still laws (generally customary), courts, and often police. (I recommend “Law of the Somalis” for an illustration.)

      2) See above about police.

      3) This is the hard one, I agree. I believe in the case in which there is some defect preventing a person from behaving rationally, force may be used. If my friend is too drunk to drive, I will use force to take the keys.

  3. Something tells me that #14 won't lead to a serious CDC assessment of the role of physician-prescribed psychotropic drugs in mass shootings. Although to be fair, that's more the CIA's bag, isn't it?

    And speaking of "relevant data," that shiny new NSA snooping center in Utah sure will come in handy when running background checks. Do your private communications reveal disturbing anti-government sentiments? Well then, no gun for you, you dangerous sicko!

  4. The mental health angle is very unsettling. In the President's Plan To Reduce Gun Violence available here;, there is a line stating "we need to make sure our laws are effective at identifying the dangerous or untrustworthy individuals that should not have access to guns."

    One can only imagine how mental health screenings might included innumerable criteria determining what constitutes a "dangerous or untrustworthy individual."

    Imagine public school nurses assessing all students, asking them if any guns are kept at home. Doctors, mental health workers, etc. working with broad abilities to define anyone as 'dangerous or untrustworthy.' This has the potential for far reaching implications.

    Are you libertarian? Anarchist minded? You might be considered an enemy of the Constitution which the President has sworn to defend, thus you are deemed untrustworthy to possess firearms.

  5. You analyzed order #21 differently than I did. I saw it like this: Force states to comply with the federally mandated laws/orders, and support the gun control initiative or risk loosing funding from the federal government for healthcare... And this in turn would force voters (unhappy with the lack of health care funding)to oust the folks trying to cover our butts and vote in more 'federal mandate friendly' reps/senators/governors.

  6. Check this out. Our local sheriff's office is creating a "pre-crime" task force that is going to setup a hotline where you can call and anonymously report your neighbor's suspicious activities that the sheriff can then investigate and I guess get that person committed or something. Very scary stuff! It starts here and where does it end?