Recently, during a tear-filled address to the nation, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on gun control. You can watch it in full here:
If we’re being completely honest, though, if you haven’t watched it by now, you probably won’t. Especially when you take into account that the video is 36 minutes long and we’re on the Internet right now. Still, seeing all the uproar from both sides of your social media timeline following Obama’s speech probably left you with a few questions, regardless of where you stand on the issue of gun control. We can help!
Is Obama coming for my guns?
No. The guns you have now are yours to keep!
Can I still buy new guns?
Even at Walmart?
As always, you can do just about anything at Wal-Mart.
Why wouldn’t you sell guns at this place?
Are gun shows illegal now?
Nope. The executive action only requires that all gun vendors be licensed. Most gun vendors at shows are already licensed.
Will it at least stop people from selling guns online?
Nah. As with gun shows, it only requires that online gun sellers be licensed.
Can I still buy extended magazines?
Go nuts. Wait, no, bad choice of words. Yes, you can still buy extended magazines.
How about armor-piercing ammunition?
Still legal, but why do you need it???
Will it stop me from buying automatic weapons registered before 1986, if I have the requisite licenses?
Wait … like machine guns? You can do that?
OK, yes, we checked and you’re right. Automatic weapons registered before 1986 are still perfectly legal provided your license checks out.
And you can advertise them on YouTube!
Will I still be able to buy machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and silencers without background checks by forming a corporation or legal trust to make the purchase for me?
Holy fuck! That was legal too?
Aren’t you supposed to be answering the questions?
Yes! Sorry. So, the executive action proposes regulations that clarify that these shady purchases require background checks. Apparently regulations weren’t clear enough on that. In 2014 alone, 90,000 Americans tried to buy guns using corporations or legal trusts.
Will it stop me from buying a gun from someone who just has a load of guns and would like to sell one to a stranger for money?
No. That person is still a hobbyist. It’s just that their hobby is giving lethal weapons to strangers without conducting a background check. This isn’t affected by the executive action. Craigslist gun sellers of the nation rejoice!
Will it stop me from buying lots of guns from someone pretending to be a hobbyist?
Ideally, yes! Once someone “engages in the business” of selling firearms they need to get a license and subject customers to background checks, or risk up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The executive actions emphasize that even one or two sales could qualify as a business if there are other factors demonstrating that they’re doing it for money. This aims to dissuade small sellers from pretending to be hobbyists to avoid licensing and background checks.
But will it really stop me?
Maybe? It’s an executive action, not an executive order, which is basically like writing “Come on people, we really should do this, but only if you want to” on Oval Office stationery.
Wait, so the executive action hasn’t actually done anything yet?
And Congress could just ignore or refuse to fund vast swathes of it?
Yes. Representatives are already threatening to withhold the funds needed to enforce the new regulations.
Will it stop me from buying guns when I have a criminal record, including domestic abuse charges?
Hopefully! In the past the FBI had three days to complete your background check when you wanted to buy a gun. If they didn’t catch any problems in time you got to run off with your new weapon. Like playing tag, but you win by getting lethal armaments. The executive action directs the FBI to hire 50 percent more workers to process background checks and “envisions” improvements that will allow background checks to happen 24/7.
Wait, so background checks weren’t an around-the-clock thing before?
No. Some people (like the Charleston Church shooter) got guns they shouldn’t have had because the workers simply didn’t have enough time to process their case.
But will this really stop me?
Maybe not. The number of background checks processed by the FBI in December 2015 was 44 percent higher than December 2014, so even if successful the staff increases are barely enough to keep up with demand.
Will it stop me from buying a gun if I have known mental health issues that specifically prohibit me from buying a gun?
Yes! The Social Security Administration is looking at linking such prohibitive mental health records with background-check data.
They didn’t do that before?
Have the executive actions created a single new law or appreciably changed the intent of any existing law?
You kind of already asked this question. The answer is still no. The executive actions are mostly just an attempt to fix loopholes, staff shortages, and other shortcomings that hinder the application of existing laws we’ve had for years.
Enforce the laws we already have on the books! That’s what the NRA and Republicans have been asking Obama to do forever, right?
Great! So everyone agrees this is a good idea then?
Of course not.
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