Our president's strategy
isn't hard to discern: Shoot the Second Amendment to pieces with
high-velocity magazines full of executive orders and questionable
Leave it to Barack Obama to come into his inaugural weekend with
a bang, and not just on guns. He's made it clear that he intends
more spending, more regulation, more radical appointees and less
national defense in his second term.
Since he just fired a load of executive orders on gun control
like shotgun pellets at a duck hunt, I think it's time to ask a few
questions about this part of his agenda. The first one's for the
Why did you have children prominently displayed at your press
conference? Were you implying that anyone who opposes your policies
wants to see children shot? I think you were.
Second, did you really justify your assault on the Second
Amendment partly by equating safe shopping with the "right of
assembly"? Finally, in citing the "right to life," did you
see any irony in being the most pro-abortion president in history?
You support even partial-birth abortion, and when you were a state
senator, you killed legislation that would have required doctors to
treat children who survive abortions.
Now here's a more general question: What exactly are executive
You won't find them in the Constitution. They're derived from
Article II, which confers executive power on the president to "take
care that all laws be faithfully executed." Executive orders
are work orders from the president to employees of federal
agencies. They do not apply to state or local governments. They
direct the implementation of statutes that Congress enacts and
which are signed by the president into law. If they go beyond this,
they are unconstitutional.
A look at some of the
23 gun control executive orders that Barack Obama issued on
January 16 leaves one wondering whether the president, as Clint
Eastwood's Dirty Harry would say, is "a man who knows his
limitations." If a Republican president issued 23 executive
orders on a single subject, the media would pronounce him
One of the orders calls for "incentives for states to share
information with the background check system." Funny, Mr. Obama
doesn't seem to want to apply this principle to voter registration
in order to curtail vote fraud.
Mr. Obama also wants "federal law enforcement to trace guns
recovered in criminal investigations." Since most criminal
enforcement occurs at the local and state levels, this would seem
to give the feds carte blanche to insert themselves into every
crime scene that involves a recovered firearm. Maybe they already
do that. I hope not.
Two more executive orders are for the feds to "provide
incentives for schools to hire school resource officers," and to
"develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of
worship and institutions of higher education." Those poor local
school officials, clergy and college deans must never have thought
of re-tooling, say, fire drills, for other emergencies, even after
Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now, Sandy Hook Elementary.
One of the executive orders calls for "incentives
for states to share information with the background check system."
Funny, Mr. Obama doesn't seem to want to apply this principle to
voter registration in order to curtail vote
One of the scarier orders directs "the Attorney General to
review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to
make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks." It
wasn't long ago that Janet Napolitano's Department of Homeland
Security issued a report tagging pro-lifers, war veterans and
opponents of illegal immigration as potential terrorists.
Then there's the "doc snitch." Federal officials are to clarify
that the ObamaCare law doesn't prohibit doctors from asking about
guns in patients' homes. We have to wonder what the
physicians are supposed to do with that information -- it's a short
step to requiring them to ask.
We need to keep in mind that gun ownership is not merely a
Second Amendment issue. "Guns are property," says Constitutional
attorney Leah Farish. "Infringement of Second Amendment rights
should also be subjected to due process scrutiny under the Fifth
and Fourteenth Amendments. I do not think that executive orders
amount to sufficient due process in this context."
Attorney General Edwin Meese III said last week that impeachment
could be a proper remedy if President Obama uses an executive order
"to try to override the Second Amendment .... Now there are some
things he can probably do in regard to the actions of the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or some other
governmental agency in its operations...," Mr. Meese told Newsmax. "But to impose burdens or regulations
that affect society generally, he would have to have Congressional
That's why Mr. Obama is urging Congress to enact a flurry of gun restrictions, from banning
so-called "assault weapons," prohibiting people from buying guns
from private sellers without undergoing background checks,
outlawing high-capacity magazine clips and a few other things that
the anti-gun lobby wants.
All of this adds up to a mega-increase in federal law
enforcement power and will require billions of dollars and
thousands of new bureaucrats. Will it make us safer? Don't bet on
The strategy is not that hard to discern: Shoot the Second
Amendment to pieces with high-velocity magazines full of executive
orders and questionable legislation. And while you're at it, use
some kids as political human shields in order to demonize your
Robert Knight, a regular contributor to OneNewNow, is a
senior fellow for The American Civil Rights Union and a
columnist for The Washington Times.
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