By: Peter Suciu
Last week, while speaking during a sit-down interview at the VTEX DAY digital convention in Sao Paulo, former President Barrack Obama said the “greatest frustration of his presidency” was his inability to tighten gun laws.
Obama said in the interview,
"Gun laws in the United States don't make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon, anytime without, you know, without much if any regulation. They can buy over the Internet. They can buy machine guns."
The 44th President of the United States, who has been considered by many to be the "most anti-gun president in American history," did make several attempts to tighten gun laws – but none of these made it beyond the Senate floor.
It’s certainly good news for gun owners, because even now, having been out of office for more than two years, the former president is still demonstrating his ignorance of several key gun laws.
Let’s look again at what he said:
"Anyone can buy any weapon, anytime without… much, if any, regulation."
Let's tackle this from the extreme: "Any weapon." We know this to be hyperbole, but “any weapon” would include an atomic bomb. But speaking specifically about guns, this would imply that weapons available to the military are readily available.
They are not. While some criminal organizations, including various powerful drug cartels, might, in fact, have military-grade assault rifles that were acquired via corrupt government officials in foreign countries, for the average American to attempt to buy these items, it is simply beyond their reach.
In other words, no. It isn't possible for anyone to buy any weapon.
Moving to the second part: "Without much, if any, regulation" suggests that either Obama – a trained legal scholar – doesn't understand the law or made his comments assuming he wouldn't be questioned about what he said. The simple truth is that the United States, despite what the Second Amendment of the Constitution says, does, in fact, have some strict regulations when it comes to the purchase and ownership of firearms on a federal level – not to mention myriad state mandates.
All licensed gun dealers, whether in a retail setting or at a gun show, are required to conduct background checks. It is also illegal for anyone – licensed or otherwise – to sell a gun to another person via the mail unless both parties have the appropriate licenses. Collectors who hold a Curio & Relics License (C&R) can buy and sell, and even mail guns to one another, but in this case, a license is required.
When buying a gun from another retailer via mail, the firearm needs to be sent to a holder of a Federal Firearms License (FFL), typically a gun shop.
All of the above is – as noted – on the federal level. As I mentioned, and of course all gun owners know all too well, there are many laws governing firearms at the state and local level. Obama, being from Chicago, where both gun control laws and violent crime are rampant, should know this better than anyone.
Next, we move to Obama's statement, "They can buy over the Internet." Technically this is true. On the "Dark Web" there are no doubt places people can find illegal guns, just as drugs and other illicit items and even services are offered. All of this is illegal, which brings us back the point of regulations and the fact that they do nothing to stop criminals who don't care about laws.
As far as legally buying guns on the Internet, this is possible, but it goes back to shipping to an FFL – not directly to the buyer in most cases. No legitimate gun seller will ship to the buyer, as that is a violation of federal law!
And this brings us to the final part of Obama's statement: "They can buy machine guns." Yes, it is true that Americans can buy machine guns, but here is where the strictest regulations exist regarding firearms. For one thing, you need to live in one of 37 states that allow ownership; you need to apply for a transfer stamp, which costs $200, and fill out an application; that application, along with fingerprints and passport-sized photos, must be sent to the ATF's offices; and then you need to wait about nine months or so.
All this is because of the National Firearms Act of 1934, which put restrictions on owning certain firearms – notably machine guns. As someone who has gone through the process, this reporter can attest it isn't easy or quick, and as noted, it is also expensive: at $200 plus the costs for fingerprints and photos.
What’s more important to note – of the transfers that have been conducted for legal machine guns according to the ATF statistics, none has been used in a crime. Just because people have access to weapons does not mean they will use those weapons to carry out heinous crimes.
It could be easy to dismiss Obama's remarks as an off-the-cuff statement, but as president, he was typically lauded for his speeches, dubbed an orator of the ages. As noted by the Daily Mail's coverage, Obama isn't being called out, even when what he says is factually wrong. In this sense, the media is actually culpable in spreading his misinformation – but then again, isn't that what we can expect?
As president, Obama failed to change the will of the people, and as an "elder statesman," he continues to push an agenda through deceit and deception. Instead of addressing real issues, such as mental illness and crime, Obama plays the blame game and puts firearms in the crosshairs.
Read more about the process I went through to acquire a machine gun legally here.
Peter Suciu is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.