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Obama to reverse Bill Clinton strategy, increase number of licensed gun dealers (but it's not what you think)

Obama to reverse Bill Clinton strategy, increase number of licensed gun dealers (but it's not what you think)

By Dave Boyer for The Washington Times

Twenty years after President Clinton tackled gun control by drastically reducing the number of licensed firearms dealers in the U.S., President Obama is preparing to tackle gun control by increasing the number of licensed gun dealers.

The different approaches of the two Democratic presidents is just one sign of how the politics of firearms has been transformed, and of Mr. Obama’s scaled-back ambitions despite a string of high-profile gun massacres during his time in office.

With his gun agenda blocked in Congress, Mr. Obama is expected to announce executive actions imposing new gun regulations soon after the holidays. One of the most likely changes is a rule that would require dealers who exceed a certain number of gun sales each year to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and to perform background checks on buyers.

The action contemplated by the White House hinges on the legal definition of those who are “engaged in the business” of buying and selling guns for profit as their livelihood. Current law doesn’t set a total number of annual gun sales to qualify as a business, but Democratic lawmakers and gun control advocacy groups are urging the White House to issue the rule as a way to close the “gun show loophole” that allows firearms to be sold without background checks at such expositions.

Federally licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks on all gun sales, and only people who are deemed to be “engaged in the business” of dealing in guns are required to get ATF licenses.

Whether or not such action would have any appreciable effect on gun violence, it’s essentially the reverse of Mr. Clinton’s far more direct response to gun crime in the mid-1990s.

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