His idea is simple…. Since the US government buys guns by the crates, then they should control who the gun manufactures sell to.
Modern government is not only a lawmaker. Indeed, the most effective executive powers may not derive from statutes at all. The government that President Obama oversees is also a gigantic, well-funded procurement agent. And it can—and should—use that power to change American gun policies. Specifically, the government buys lots of guns, for sheriffs, patrol officers, and detectives; for FBI agents, DEA agents, IRS agents, Postal Inspectors, immigration agents, and park rangers; and for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and spies. The government buys guns by the crate.
In this era of government ownership of financial institutions, we are getting more used to the notion that government as an economic actor can exercise its power in differing ways. After all, firms that received TARP money are subject to a bevy of pay restrictions—wisely constructed or not—and were forced to cancel showy parties and retreats.
If we can use a capital infusion to a bank as an opportunity to control executive compensation and to limit use of private planes, why can’t the government use its weight as the largest purchaser of guns from major manufacturers to reward companies that work to keep their products out of criminals’ hands? Put another way, if it is too difficult to outlaw bad conduct through statutes, why not pay for good conduct? Why not require vendors to change their behavior if they want our tax dollars?
If President Obama wants to devise a creative way to limit gun violence, he will use his power as the world’s largest consumer to require the cooperation of gun manufacturers. If government cannot legislate the conduct it wants, then it can use market power to buy it. For the money we are spending, we should buy not only guns but some peace from gun violence.