January 6, 2016

Most Voters Support Executive Order on Gun Control

Houston Gun Show at the George R. Brown Convention CenterThis post was updated after publishing in an attempt to improve the clarity. Specifically, the quote from ProPublica was added to provide a clearer description of Obama's actions.

I don't have a great deal of confidence that President Obama's proposed executive actions with regard to gun control are going to have much of an impact in reducing gun violence. But you know what? I admire the fact that he's finally trying to do something about the problem. Even if his efforts fall far short of what we should be doing, they might help prevent gun violence in a handful of cases. And that is something. It sounds like this sentiment is shared by a large number of voters too, as there is considerable public support for his plan.

What exactly is President Obama doing? Here's how ProPublica described his efforts:
Obama’s most significant step is an attempt to expand the number of gun sellers who conduct background checks on buyers. To do this, he is not changing the requirements for who is required to conduct a background check and who is not. Instead, he is giving a very high level of publicity to new “guidance” from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that simply explains what the current law is.

Under federal law, licensed firearm dealers have to comply with a set of regulations, including conducting background checks on prospective purchasers to make sure they are not prohibited from owning a gun because of a criminal record or other disqualifying factor. More occasional sellers of guns—one private individual selling to another private individual—do not have to follow these rules.
Is the President's plan to expand the number of gun sellers conducting background checks on individuals buying guns the best possible outcome for which one could hope? No, of course not! It would be great if we had more data to guide our approach to various policy options. It would be great if we had a real bipartisan commitment in Congress to work across the aisle to reduce gun violence while preserving Second Amendment rights. It would be great if the rhetoric of outrage could be set aside while we rolled up our sleeves and got to work on solving real problems.

Since such a reasonable, collaborative, and data-driven approach to solving problems seems virtually impossible in this country at the moment, I applaud the President for doing what he's doing.