An executive order President Joe Biden claims will help keep firearms out of the wrong hands by expanding background checks is too vague and could have ominous implications, some Western gun rights advocates say.
The order could be another attempt to “close what they’re calling the ‘gun show loophole,’ and that’s just a fancy way of saying ‘ban all private sales.’ So, they could be trying to crack down on all private sales,” Gun Owners of America spokesman Mark Jones of Buffalo told Cowboy State Daily.
Who’s In The Gun Business
“The president will continue to call on Congress to pass universal background check legislation,” a Tuesday statement issued by the White House says. “In the meantime, (Biden) is directing the attorney general to do everything he can to ensure that firearms sellers who do not realize they are required to run background checks under existing law, or who are willfully violating existing law, become compliant with background check requirements.”
The attorney general will be directed to clarify “the statutory definition of who is ‘engaged in the business’ of dealing in firearms,” the statement says.
Just Too Vague
The group Wyoming Gun Owners minced no words in reacting to Biden’s push on background checks, calling the president “the Tyrant In Chief” and making policy that “are extremely dangerous to the Bill of Rights.”
Biden’s regulations “would allow anyone to accuse you or me of anything – and we could lose our firearms without due process, through ex parte hearings,” the group says on its Facebook page. “Our Founding Fathers would be devastated to see what our country has become.”
The language of the executive order doesn’t seem to specify exactly how background checks would be expanded, said Jones and Colorado state Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta.
Soper has been an outspoken critic of Colorado’s latest round of proposed gun control bills.
Soper told Cowboy State Daily that he doesn’t take issue with the general principle of background checks, but has misgivings about where Biden’s executive order could be headed.
“The only way to tell if somebody is of legal age to buy a firearm and isn’t a convicted felon is to run a background check,” he said. “What worries me is if they use this to create a database of gun owners, because the combination of databases and government is never a good thing.”
Jones agreed, saying the executive order could be a means to “track private transfers and make a registry.”
Announced At Massacre Site
Biden announced the executive order Tuesday in Monterey Park, California, at the site of a mass shooting in January that left 11 people dead and nine wounded.
Jones said that was in bad taste by “trying to politicize a tragedy in order to penalize law-abiding citizens.”
Sure To Face Legal Challenges
As part of a larger push for “universal background checks,” the executive order could be aimed at ending all private transfer of firearms, Jones said.
Under current law, a person can make a private sale or trade of a firearm so long as they’re reasonably sure the person getting the gun isn’t a felon or otherwise forbidden to own firearms. That includes sales or trades between private parties at gun shows in some states, including Wyoming.
The private sale or trade of firearms between law-abiding citizens should be considered a provision of the Second Amendment, Jones said, so the Biden administration’s efforts might not gain much traction.
“They are treading a fine line here, because they want to do through executive order what Congress hasn’t done. There’s going to be a lot of questions asked, hard questions, and it’s going to have to be clarified,” he said.
“I’m sure our attorneys are going to be all over this,” Jones added.