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President Obama, congressional Democrats and even some Republicans plan to push new gun-control legislation in the 113th Congress, but defenders of the Second Amendment fear Obama is poised to enact the restrictions through the Executive Branch if Congress is not cooperative.
John M. Snyder heads GunRightsPolicies.org and has worked for organizations from the National Rifle Association to the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He said Obama and his allies have already chartered what regulatory course to pursue through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.
"We have some confidential information that he may order the ATF to reclassify certain models of semi-automatic firearms as Title 2 guns under the Gun Control Act of 1968," Snyder told WND. "What this would mean is that people could not obtain these without going through a terribly difficult process that includes registration of each firearm and paying a severe fee for the ownership of each one."
Snyder said an even more drastic approach from Obama would be to try to ban semiautomatic weapons altogether.
"Also, there is the possibility that the administration could try to declare that semi-automatic firearms are fully automatic firearms or machine guns under this Title 2, in which case they would be banned because of an amendment that's on the books, the Gun Control Act of 1968.
Snyder is referring to what's known as the Hughes Amendment, which forbids the acquisition of any new fully automatic weapons or machine guns.
The possible strategy is not a new idea, according to Snyder. He said liberal groups have advocated the move for years, but Democrats have been reluctant to pursue it because of the massive public backlash that will ensue.
"This is an ongoing project of theirs, and they use a lot of these tragedies to try to advance their cause in a public relations sense. So far they've been unable to do that," said Snyder. "It appears that the public is catching on to them and they know what their game plan is, generally speaking. So a lot depends on their frustration, the political situation at the time and a number of other factors, too."
Even if the Obama administration were to bypass Congress by imposing new regulations, there is still one card left for pro-Second Amendment forces to play: The House of Representatives could remove funding for the ATF or abolish it completely. But would the House GOP actually do that? Snyder is confident it would.
"I wouldn't be surprised. I think the House is really furious with the president," Snyder said. "The Republicans would like to cut budgets of the federal government because they think the federal government is taking too much money and spending too much money, and a good place for them to cut would be in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. If there is strong enough public support against the activities of the federal government, the House of Representatives will develop a plan to slash the budget of the agency. I think it's a real possibility."