The next shoe to drop on gun control may come by mid-January, when President Obama is expected to issue an executive order requiring everyone “in the business” of selling firearms to perform background checks, Bloomberg News reports. Federal law already obliges federally licensed gun retailers to do computerized criminal checks via the Federal Bureau of Investigation's database. People who lack federal licenses and sell guns from their personal collections are not required to do the checks. Many firearms are sold in the latter fashion by individuals who aren't technically gun retailers but who sell weapons at weekend gun shows or from their homes. The Harvard School of Public Health estimates that 40 percent of gun transfers occur without background checks (the so-called gun show loophole).
Obama will expand the definition of who's “in the business” of selling firearms and thus who's required to perform background checks. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, among others, has strongly backed this idea, and now Obama appears ready to make itn one of the first major acts of his final year in office. The timing of the expected move on background checks guarantees it will receive a hostile reaction from gun-rights advocates, thousands of whom will gather next month in Las Vegas for the firearm industry's annual Shooting, Hunting & Outdoor Trade Show, known as SHOT. An ironic twist is that many of the attendees at SHOT are federally licensed brick-and-mortar gun dealers who sometimes concede privatelyt they have no real problem with all gun sellers being forced to do background checks. There will probably be calls to challenge Obama's authority to broaden the background check mandate without congressional involvement. Lawsuits and objections from pro-gun Republicans on Capitol Hill will likely follow.