I’m emblematic of a certain recalcitrance right, in not assenting to closure of the private part sales ‘loophole’ when it wouldn’t actually be a big burden on me.
Here’s a reason. It’s also to explain what it means to argue we do in fact have the ability to ‘enforce the laws we currently have’ and get an efficacy from that effort.
If you want some common-sense gun control that can in fact be enacted by presidential order, start by reversing the fact that federal prosecutors more or less categorically refuse to take up straw-buyer cases. The U.S. attorney responsible for Chicago announced in 2012 that his office would no longer prosecute straw-purchase cases unless there was some bigger, sexier aspect to them, such as interstate gun-trafficking. If, as the Times report and similar surveys suggest, most crime is being committed by people with prior violent-crime records (most of whom would be forbidden from legally buying guns) then going after straw buyers makes a lot of sense. But we don’t do that, because you don’t make a name for yourself as a federal prosecutor by putting a bunch of Chicago gangsters’ mothers and girlfriends in jail. The desire to focus regulatory efforts on licensed gun dealers instead of on straw buyers and other actual criminals is in part about laziness (gun dealers have fixed addresses and regular business hours) but also about the desire to shift prosecutorial energy away from the sort of communities in which “community organizers” make their living. The president has it within his power to order U.S. attorneys, in Chicago and elsewhere, to take up those straw-buyer cases, but he refuses to exercise it. Why? Because he believes that there is political juice to be had from a long, drawn-out confrontation with the NRA and other gun-rights activists, but none to be had from taking meaningful steps to punish the actual wrongdoers. That is cowardice, and it is immoral.