Gun control groups such as Moms Demand, Newtown Action Alliance, and the Brady Campaign have been frustrated at the federal level by their inability to pass more restrictive gun control laws, and have turned much of their attention this election season to state ballot initiatives and local elections. But if Hillary Clinton is elected President, "there might be executive orders," as Sen. Russ Feingold said at a 2015 fundraiser, as a method of advancing an anti-Second Amendment agenda.
If Clinton were elected and used executive orders liberally, she'd simply be following in the footsteps of Barack Obama and, according to the anti-gunners, just trying to step in where Congress won't do the right thing.
From The Salem Reporter:
“The White House is limited in terms of what they can do without the backing and support of Congress. President Obama and his administration have explored all possibilities in response to the violence,” said Po Murray, chairman of the Newtown Action Alliance, founded after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Paul Helmke, past president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and a former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Indiana, said Obama has “done pretty much everything he really can without submitting it for congressional approval.”
Still, even changes that do not fundamentally alter the right to own a firearm have angered gun rights supporters.
For example, in July, the State Department updated the definition of who must register as an arms manufacturer and pay a $2,250 annual fee under an international arms trafficking law. Its definition included some work, like threading gun barrels, considered regular gunsmithing. The department did say most work on guns doesn’t require registration, as long as special machinery is not involved and the work doesn’t improve weapons’ accuracy or firepower.
ATF had proposed banning AR-15 ammunition, which can also pierce armor. It backed off when gun-rights groups protested that the ammunition is used for hunting.
Unable to get Congress to pass background checks for all gun sales, the Obama administration has also taken steps to expand them on its own. Most notably, in January, it announced clarifications widening checks on gun-show sales and online purchases.
Also under the Obama administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives banned the import of armor-piercing ammunition for AK-47 assault rifles. A federal judge upheld the ban earlier this year.
Among other limits put in place by Obama and pointed out by the NRA is a 2011 order requiring gun sellers to tell the ATF if they sell multiple semi-automatic rifles to a single buyer in a southwestern border state.
Two years ago, ATF expanded its prohibition of people who are not allowed to have guns because of a mental defect to include those ordered to undergo outpatient treatment. The change did not affect people who voluntarily enter treatment.
Envisioning the future under a Clinton administration, Murray, of the Newtown Action Alliance, said she could unilaterally use the government’s purchasing power to encourage gunmakers to sell smart-guns that fire only when an owner’s fingerprints are recognized.
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