Gun Control

Lawsuit Filed Over Obama's Executive Actions on Guns

Freedom Watch's Larry Klayman claims Obama's proposed changes to gun dealer and mental health definitions violate Second Amendment rights and administrative procedure laws.

|

Larry Klayman of the litigious Freedom Watch filed yesterday what seems to be the first lawsuit challenging President Obama's recently announced executive actions to toughen certain elements of gun law enforcement. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida  (I reported on the threat of such suits earlier this month.)

Here is his group's press release on the suit, which sums up his complaint:

Obama has ordered ATF to redefine, in its enforcement activities, who is a "dealer" in firearms "engaged in the business of selling firearms." The change of interpretation now sweeps up persons who do not seek to earn a livelihood or make a profit, who buy or sell as few as one or two guns a year. Worse, the new rules are so vague and subjective that Klayman challenges them as "void for vagueness." Being treated as a dealer now creates the obligation to conduct background checks for those sales.

Similarly, Obama is changing under such background checks a person prohibited from buying a gun from one formally adjudicated by a court of law to be mentally incompetent to anyone who – vaguely – has a mental health "issue." Thus, the due process protection of a court ruling is being lost. Obama ordered the Social Security Administration to report to the firearm background check database people on disability payments for reasons that may indicate "issues" of mental health. Obama is working to require doctors to report those with (poorly defined) issues. Everyone living in the same household may lose the right to possess a gun.

The complete filing. Key elements of why Klayman thinks Obama must be stopped:

Plaintiff sues the Defendants in this civil action for the abridgement of his fundamental rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiff seeks a Declaratory Judgment, and preliminary and permanent injunctions. Plaintiff also challenges the executive branch action under the Nondelegation Doctrine…..

The Defendants' rewriting of laws burdening and abridging the fundamental rights of the Plaintiff and other U.S. citizens under the Second Amendment by the President and his executive branch is unconstitutional, illegal under the Administrative Procedures Act, and ultra vires under the applicable laws and the Second Amendment…

Even where Congress has granted authority to the executive branch, these particular programs are ultra vires, exceeding the bounds of authority delegated by the Congress. These violations include the Defendants fundamentally transforming the definition of key terms so as to invent a different regime of regulation of firearms through changed interpretations, albeit illegal changes, of current law….

Arguing in the the alternative (legal lingo for "even if you think I'm wrong about that…") Klayman's suit further maintains Obama is still in the wrong because he:

must first go through rigid rule-making procedures under the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA"). The President cannot simply announce sweeping new rules and implement them by giving a speech or issuing an executive memorandum.

Later in the suit, Klayman nervously notes that the "smart gun" tech Obama is also pushing research toward might one day be used to remotely disable all privately owned guns.

The defendants are Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and BATFE head Thomas Brandon. The relief Klayman seeks:

that the Court with regard to each and every Defendant: (1) Enter a preliminary injunction to halt implementation until the Court can hear all parties and enter a decision on a preliminary injunction; and (2) Enter a permanent injunction declaring the new gun control programs ordered on January 4, 2016, to be unlawful and unconstitutional , as well award such other forms of equitable relief as may be appropriate, attorneys' fees and costs, and such other relief the Court may deem just and proper.

Coverage today also from The Hill and World Net DailyThe Hill predicts the likelihood of more such suits.

Reason on Klayman, including his valuable lawsuit against the NSA, and his more curious call for a revolution against our allegedly Muslim Shariah-imposing president.

NEXT: Supreme Court bombshell: Does Obama's immigration guidance violate the Take Care Clause?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Finally, Obama can say he tried some gun control worthy of a lawsuit.

  2. Cementing his legacy.

    1. But is this really a concrete achievement?

      1. It will pave the way for greater things!

        1. Please curb your punning.

          1. Sorry. Was it driving you crazy?

            1. Not really. That’s a lane excuse.

              1. Well, I guess we now know that the road to hell is paved with executive orders.

            2. Rich obviously doesn’t understand the foundations of comedy.

              1. We all see who understands where the rubber meets the road !

                1. We can only hope they use rubbers.

                  1. I’ve recast my mind and think I’ll reinforce Rich’s bar on punning? I’ll re-bar, even. It’s bad form even for the slab of characters posting here.

                    1. I’d buy that for a dollar!

                    2. It’s really the keystone of this argument.

                    3. Just like you to vault to conclusions!

  3. How many 9-0 losses has obumbles scored with the SC? I lost count. Oh, and a court with two of his own appointees on it.

    1. Last I checked he held the all time record. Pretty impressive for a constitutional law professor…..or something.

        1. I wish the 2nd was an option

  4. The President cannot simply announce sweeping new rules and implement them by giving a speech or issuing an executive memorandum.

    Sure he can, Larry. He has a pen and a phone!

    1. He just did.

      Spineless congress and massively powerful executive branch is a recipe for dictatorship.

      The courts will find some way to make his okey-dokey. Probably with a statement like, “this should be sorted out through legislation.”

    2. It’s the teleprompter he really finds useful.

  5. Klayman nervously notes that the “smart gun” tech Obama is also pushing research toward might one day be used to remotely disable all privately owned guns.

    That’s just crazy talk, Larry. Next you’ll be worrying that — oh, I don’t know — *self-driving cars* will be mandated.

  6. The relief Klayman seeks: ?.

    (3) Issue public apologizes to the American People; (4) Submit to established procedures penalizing malfeasaHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!! Damn, couldn’t quite get it out!

  7. It seems reality is catching up with Klayman’s paranoia.

    1. Klayman’s paranoia

      Nice band name.

        1. That’s not a very good band name.

  8. As someone who doesn’t own a gun, I still recognize that the world is amazingly safe and would be made even more peaceful if we changed other horrible legislation that has nothing to do with guns.

    Why do people care so much about this issue? (Why do people try so much to legislating them away?)

    1. Why do people care so much about this issue? (Why do people try so much to legislating them away?)

      As opposed to, say, health care?

    2. Why do people care so much about this issue? (Why do people try so much to legislating them away?)”

      I presume you mean why do gun-controllers go so batshit about guns when if they really cared about criminal violence there are lot of other ways to go about it?

      I suppose the answer is the same as, “Why did people froth and freak out over Keystone XL when it has zero actual likelihood of any impact on the environment”?

      Its the “Why Does a Dog Lick Its Balls?”-rule of politics. Why do they do it? Because they can. And because doing so provides a stupid populace a red-herring to point at so that they never think about things that actually matter, like gigantic expanding deficits, etc, the epic waste that occurs in government every day, etc.

      1. I’d say it’s less about “they can” and more about a different form of signaling – it’s much easier to preen about safety and Gaia than to propose legislation that is meaningful, or worse, to propose existing legislation that has proven worthless.

        With guns or Keystone, it comes back to control – we smart folks will keep those icky killing instruments away from the goobers and hayseeds, and we responsible citizens of the earth will protect it against the rapacious appetites of those wishing to live in relative comfort with abundant, cheap energy.

        1. We responsible citizens of the earth will protect it against the rapacious appetites of those wishing to live in relative comfort with abundant, cheap energy.

          Of course, said responsible citizens will get to live in relative comfort for their enlightened views while the plebs have to deal with the expensive energy and poverty. Kind of like how in Paul Watson’s delusional population control wet dream only those who are ‘environmentally conscious’ get to reproduce.

          1. But surely if people are choosing to reproduce, then they aren’t environmentally conscious.

    3. A combination of animism and tribalism.

      To authority worshippers, the gun itself is evil, and only evil people want to own them.

      1. It’s true. Guns are evil. I touched a gun once and woke up six hours later addicted to coke and heroin with 50 dead people at my feet.

        Guns, brah. If we just get rid of them, we won’t have problems.

    4. Because stupid people are often animists. A gun is not a tool, a machine that functions because a human used it.
      Instead, a gun is evil. It is inherently violent.
      Also, people who like guns are probably illiterate rednecks who vote Republican, or even worse (shudder) libertarian.

      1. Well, you must admit that with so many guns firing all by themselves during police interactions with “civilians”, they have a point about that inherent violence.

    5. One thing I can tell you for certain is that progs are totally obsessed with this issue. This and climate change. It’s totally lost to them that most people do not think about those two issues at all, let alone on a continual basis.

    6. One the presidents’ lackeys in his previous administration said her favorite philosopher is Mao. Mao said that power flows from the barrel of a gun. They already control the guns of the state, or believe they do, and most of the other institutions in society are fairly well bent toward their will. But with an armed populace, that still means there is a balance of power. They want complete, unchecked power. They want to rule a race of slaves.

      So, that’s why the gun grabbers care so much about this issue, and that’s the people that would prefer not being slaves care so much about it as well.

    7. “As someone who doesn’t own a gun” You just answered your own question. It’s not important to YOU.

  9. About time somebody called this asshole on his unconstitutional power grabs, since, apparently, ask the Republicans in Congress are a bunch of pussies.

    1. * all, not ask, and I’ll point out that it’s been 7 years of this crap.

    2. the Republicans in Congress are a bunch of pussies.

      What do you propose they do, impeach him? Any limitation they suggest will never make it to a vote in the Senate.

  10. “void for vagueness”

    Well, let’s hope he wins this one and it’s upheld by the supreme court. That should set precedent for allowing us to get rid of about 90% of laws and regulations now on the books.

  11. Klayman nervously notes that the “smart gun” tech Obama is also pushing research toward might one day be used to remotely disable all privately owned guns.

    And he’ll call it SONS OF THE PATRIOTS.

    Oh my god, Hideo Kojima was right all along.

    (Also, I find it hilarious I could find this by googling ‘Ocelot finger bangs everyone’)

  12. (turning blue while holding breath)

  13. Anyone seen John lately? I have to ask him if the Chiefs beat the Patriots.

    1. Too soon…

  14. Obumber should be impeached

    1. The first black president cannot be impeached.

  15. Perez v. MBA. SCOTUS says ABA doesn’t require Notice and Hearing when agencies issue re-interpretations of rules. And several different rulings have said interpretations of an agencies rules are best left up to the agencies themselves, not subjected to second-guessing by the likes of SCOTUS. (Although the Court has ruled their are some limits to judicial deference and Clarence Thomas is a critic which gives some hope they might re-visit the issue. As if SCOTUS shows any deference when it smacks down Congress when they get all unconstitutionally – as if it wasn’t their freaking job to second-guess interpretations of the law.)

    So is this “new rules” or “re-interpretations” we’re talking about? Klayman’s own complaint seems to be arguing that this re-interpretation of the rules on who’s a dealer and who’s barred by mental issues constitute new rules – and Perez v. MBA has already said nuh-uh to that.

    My guess is the only way this suit is going anywhere is if the courts want to start walking back the broad “deference” powers they’ve given executive-branch agencies by making up some new crap about some sort of “test” that “reasonably” restricts agencies from making up new shit. Which means the law gets murkier and murkier on just who the hell gets to make the laws and what the hell the law even means when you have to start throwing subjective analysis based on some bullshit “test” the courts just made up into the mix. But the lawyers will love all the new work.

  16. You know what, the insidious Sierra Club tactic may be the best way to combat the growing usurpations of that one desk. File a lawsuit against every single action, no exceptions. Make it literally, figuratively?, impossible to function.

    1. I thought that was the Scientologists.

  17. Obama’s wrong about everything, but do Klayman and Co. have standing to sue?

    1. There is precedent for lawsuit activism in the enviro field. The same argument applies, this matters to all of humanity.

    2. Also, I didn’t specify any specific president.

    3. It’s an unconstitutional executive order violating “shall not be infringed”, I’d say that’s a big ‘yes’.

      1. Hundred years old.

        Slave owners.

        They meant muskets.

        1. They would have said “muskets” because they had things like cannons during those times, which were artillery pieces of mass destruction. Civilians could own those, as well. And it provided a counter balance governments’ coercive power.

          The evidence is that the intent is for citizens to have access to all arms.

          1. Civilians can still own cannons.

  18. the “smart gun” tech Obama is also pushing research toward might one day be used to remotely disable all privately owned guns.

    Even if such a thing were tried, it would take about 10 minutes with common household tools to defeat any conceivable mechanism. The operating components of a semi-auto firearm are dead simple.

  19. I have been hiding behind the door waiting for them to come for the guns for years. Will still leave the light on…

  20. FIRST according to the NRA, crime accounts for most gun deaths. The NRA says the response should be to incarcerate all felons regardless of offense or record for 5 years. The NRA says people who blame guns for deaths are liars. However, this study shows that crime caused only 5.39% of firearm deaths in 2014:

    http://www.yofiel.com/writing/…..hs-in-2014

    Compared to deaths from crime, twice as many were due to involuntary manslaughter and acts by children. Three times as many were due to personal disputes. And twelve times as many were due to suicides. Therefore, it is the NRA that lies. Crime is not the main problem. To save lives, the rational thing to do is reduce suicides, prevent domestic violence, and make guns safer first, which is exactly the actin the President has taken. People who obstruct that are guilty of causing far more deaths than criminals.

    1. SECOND, Section 922(g) of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, passed by congress in 1993, prohibits any person from shipping, transporting, or receiving any firearm if the person:
      * Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
      * Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence;
      * Is subject to a court restraining order for harassment;
      * Has been imprisoned for a term exceeding one year;

      The existing instant background check system, invented by the NRA to increase sales, does not enforce these conditions, and as noted in the article below, the NRA has simultaneously claimed credit for its quality, even while obstructing attempts to rectify problems with its background check system for several years, and while accusing others of lying and blaming the irresponsibility of congress for the shortfallings. The law has been in place for 23 years, and there has never been a challenge to its constitutionality in the supreme court. Holding the President and attorney general responsible for violations of personal rights when they are actually upholding an act of congress is obviously wrong. If congress had no right in passing the Brady bill, then the action should be against the Brady bill, not the President.

      The appropriate response is a countersuit for malfeasance

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.