John Hockenberry interviewed me this morning on the latest from the White House on changing the definition who is “engaged in the business” of selling guns and therefore required to get federal firearms license (and, therefore, do a background check on each buyer before selling a gun). [More on that in this previous post.]

As I told Hockenberry, this seems to me like a fairly clever move politically, since roughly 90% of the voters – even Bill O’Reilly – want background checks on all gun sales.

The President doesn’t have the power to do that, but this gets part of the way there. It’s also obviously within Executive Branch authority. But Republicans –both Senators up for re-election and candidates for President– have to be against anything this President is for, especially when it comes to guns.  As could have been predicted, all the Republican pols and pundits who weren’t busy making fun of the President’s display of emotion this morning (see video below) – obviously, if you shed tears at the thought of children dying, you’re not fit for office – had to denounce this as a ruthless power grab and threat to Second Amendment rights, though none of them actually managed to back up either half of that proposition with fact.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.