It sure sounds scary. "Military weapons" being reimported back into the United States. Or people getting guns without background checks. But the reception being given President Obama's two new executive orders on guns largely relies on ignorance of how the current rules work.
The president's executive order banning the reimportation of "military weapons" really only affects old M-1 Garand 30-06 rifles. These rifles have been used in the Civilian Marksmanship Program program and are mainly purchased by collectors. At one time they were "military weapons," but they were used in World War II and the Korean War.
No other US-made military rifles are being imported. And, more importantly, this semi-automatic rifle is functionally no different than any semi-automatic deer hunting. They fire the same bullets at the same rapidity and do the same damage as other deer hunting rifles.
The only difference is that these old Garands tend to be relatively heavy -- in the past 60 years, manufacturers have learned how to make lighter versions of these guns.
Despite the scary rhetoric, the White House is leaving out one important point: it isn't pointing to any cases where imported U.S.-made military weapons have been used in a crime. And the reason is obvious: there probably aren't any.
Regarding the second executive order, the only "corporate" registration is for Class III (machine guns) weapons. Again, the Obama administration doesn't provide examples of people using a corporation to register handguns or semi-automatic rifles as a way to bypass criminal background checks.
More importantly, it fails to point to any cases where such guns have been used in crimes. Corporations are used (primarily) to obtain fully-automatic machine guns, as they are usually out of the price range of most citizens (running at least about $20,000 each).
Yes, when registered to a corporation any officer is allowed to posses the machine gun, but the point that the transfer occurs still requires a NICS check for the person actually picking up the gun.
What happens under current law is that if a gun is registered to a corporation, then anyone who is an officer in the corporation would be allowed to use the gun.
As with many actions these days by the Obama administration, the president doesn't have the authority to rewrite the current rules. Changing these rules for corporations requires congressional action.
Of course, all this is typical for our president, with Obama in the past making such completely false claims as “as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases take place without a background check."
But how many times can the president cry wolf without losing all credibility?
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.