The Blaze's Dana Loesch joined the NRA's media arm with the release of a commentary video that falsely and conspiratorially suggested that President Obama could require a family member who gives another family member a gun to register as a federally licensed firearm dealer and open their house to inspection by the government.
Loesch is now listed on the NRA News website as part of its commentators series, which the NRA describes as showcasing a “new generation of advocates and activists for the Second Amendment.” She is also employed by Glenn Beck's conservative network The Blaze, hosts a nationally syndicated conservative radio show, and is a frequent guest on Fox News.
In her first video for the NRA, released on November 18, Loesch claimed, “The president could use his phone and his pen to require that even the simple transfer of a firearm between family members -- like if my husband handed down his rifle to our oldest son -- be treated in accordance with FFL [Federal Firearm License] requirements.”
“So right now the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] doesn't issue FFLs for total personal use only,” Loesch continued, “But if this were to change, then the ATF would be required to treat your home, and your family, as they do all gun dealers. This means regular inspections. You would be publicly listed with the other licensees and you must allow the ATF to inspect your recordkeeping. Ta-da. National registry. It's the same thing, by the way, that Hillary Clinton has proposed as an executive action should she ever become president.”
The scenario described by Loesch is absurd. In recent months both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign have expressed interest in executive action that would partially close the “private sales loophole” that allows a significant number of guns to be sold without a background check.
Under current federal law, individuals “engaged in the business” of selling firearms must obtain a Federal Firearm License (FFL) and run background checks on customers. People who are engaged in “occasional sales” or sell out of their “personal collection” do not need to obtain an FFL or run checks on buyers.
Some gun sellers, including firearms traffickers, take advantage of the vagueness of the definition of what it means to be “engaged in the business” of selling firearms in order to sell large numbers of guns without a background check.
The Obama administration and the Clinton campaign are considering proposals to require people who are engaged in significant commercial firearm activity to perform background checks on customers, but the suggestion that these proposals would reach a father handing a gun down to a son is baseless and conspiratorial.
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration is examining proposals “to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year.” The paper reported that one such proposal considered in 2013 by the administration would impose the requirement for individuals who sell more than 50 guns a year.
Likewise, Clinton is also only considering an FFL requirement for sellers of large numbers of guns. According to a Clinton aide the proposal would “ensure that high-volume gun sellers are covered by the same common-sense rules that apply to guns stores -- including requiring background checks on gun sales.”
Policy papers by leading gun safety advocacy groups also make it clear that proposals would target people who are actually commercial sellers, and nothing in their proposals approaches requiring a father to obtain an FFL to give a gun to his son.
Loesch's claim about home inspections by the ATF, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws and regulating gun dealers, is also baseless fearmongering.
The ATF has limited resources, in large part due to the NRA's repeated efforts to hinder the agency. There are currently around 140,000 FFLs, and the ATF aims to inspect dealers every three to five years. According to The Trace, just 7 percent of dealers were inspected in 2014, and in 2013 just 42 percent of FFLs had been inspected by the ATF in the previous five years. If transfers of firearms between family members were to require an FFL, the ATF would be tasked with tens of millions of inspections each year, a scenario that highlights the absurdity of Loesch's claim.
Loesch concluded her video with another conspiracy, claiming that proponents of “common sense” gun laws actually want anyone who ever told a doctor or mental health professional that they were “moody” or anyone who ever got angry or shouted at work to be put into a database that disqualifies gun ownership. In reality, the Affordable Care Act contains NRA-backed provisions that prohibit certain data collection about gun ownership and laws that prohibit people from owning guns on the basis of serious mental health conditions do so on the basis of the individual being a danger to themselves or others, not whether they got angry at work.