With the moral authority of “Because it’s for the children” Obama signed executive orders that pretend to help curb gun violence. Using children as human shields to deflect criticism, Obama offered policy choices of what he thinks will address gun violence.
The lead-up to the announcement today left many thinking this imperial-president wannabe would use his executive pen to order a ban on semi-automatic “military style” rifles and limit magazine sizes. Despite the hype, Obama’s announcement was pleasantly anti-climactic.
His 23 executive actions really amounted to liberal policy choices that seem, at first blush, within the authority of the president. I have analyzed the first 16 and will give my take on them. The list of all 23 actions can be found in the link above.
1. This action endeavors to make it easier for federal agencies to share information for the federal background check system. The fear with this is that federal agencies will invade the privacy of individuals. For example, as part of the Air Force’s Health and Welfare Assessment the Air Force asks if the airman owns firearms and how many. This information could be shared with the federal background check system to create a list of people who are stockpiling weapons.
2. The key word in this action is “address.” As they say, the devil is in the details. How will legal barriers to HIPAA be ”addressed?”
3. What are the ”incentives” for states to share gun owner information and how will they be “improved?”
4. This action will likely expand the “categories” of individuals prohibited from owning guns.
5. The new proposed rulemaking will likely make it more difficult for a lawfully owned firearm to be returned to its rightful, legal owner. I haven’t done the study, but this executive action, like most of the others, seems to be aimed at something that really is not a problem.
6. Executive action number six will likely limit gun dealers in how they run background checks. I can foresee the Obama administration making this a lot more expensive than it needs to be.
7. Obama wants to federalize a national gun safety campaign to encourage (mandate?) safety courses, etc. for all 50 states.
8. This action has the potential to be the most pernicious of the actions. If history is a guide (EPA, FDA, FWS actions), Obama will use the Consumer Product Safety Commission to put onerous safety requirements on all firearms that will make weapons either too expensive or ineffective. He can also abuse his authority by phony “recalls” of “unsafe” firearms like he did with Toyota.
9. Obama wants FLEAs (federal law enforcement agencies- I made up that acronym myself) to trace the ownership/possession of seized firearms.
10. The Department of Justice will now be required to make a report on stolen or lost guns. Again, this seems to address a phantom problem.
11. Obama nominated Todd Jones as the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. However, no director for the ATF has been confirmed by the Senate since 2006. (Interestingly, that is the same year the Democrats regained control of the Senate. And why should they confirm an ATF director? The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in three years.)
12. Of all the executive actions, this one is probably the most helpful. This action seeks to provide law enforcement agents, first responders and school officials with training in active shooter scenarios.
13. The president wants to “maximize” enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and to prosecute more vigorously. This policy is within the president’s prosecutorial discretion to emphasize enforcement in a certain area. He has abused his discretion before (more accurately, Attorney General Holder has) by refusing to prosecute certain crimes altogether, like voter fraud and intimidation. Will he abuse it again?
14. Obama directs the Center for Disease Control to research causes and preventions of gun violence. What has “disease control” got to do with gun violence? I don’t know. The CDC has morphed into an organization the keeps track of mortality in America long before Obama came along.
15. The Attorney General is to report on the availability and effectiveness of gun safety technologies and “challenge” the private sector to develop new technologies.
16. At best number sixteen merely clarifies a provision in Obamacare that prevents doctors from compiling data on patients’ gun ownership to be provided for government agencies. Doctors aren’t prohibited from asking about guns. At worst, it is a post-enactment line-item veto of the provision in order to allow doctors to collect information on patients’ gun ownership. The most pernicious possibility is that this executive action will lead to doctors asking children how many and what types of guns their parents own. After all, this whole gun control kick is for the children, right?
The worst part of Obama’s presentation today was his call for Congress to act unconstitutionally to ban semi-automatic weapons and to limit magazine size. Some of you might be scratching your head as to why Obama is appealing to Congress instead of acting himself. First of all, enacting the type of laws he’s pushing requires an act of Congress. But the Constitution is an arcane barrier to him, a charter of negative liberties, telling him what he can’t do, not how he can help people. Secondly, liberals are patient politically. They do a good job of waiting for and capitalizing on crises, maybe manufacturing one now and then.
My take on Obama appealing to Congress is to show, down the road, that Congress is incapable of acting so he has to do it himself. After all, he said that he couldn’t enact amnesty for illegal aliens by executive order, but then did it. I believe Obama and friends will wait for (or manufacture) another tragedy like Newtown, CT and then insist he has to “act without Congress.”
These executive actions are not the abuse of presidential authority many (including me) feared. However, the battle on gun control is far from over. This president and his allies are not to be trusted. I fear these executive actions are simply avenues for incremental tyranny, Trojan horses. Eternal vigilance is the price for our liberty. We must remain vigilant. We cannot let the righteous indignation we feel die out and let down our guard. Vigilance takes hard work and determination. Liberty is wild adventure, not a leisurely vacation.
Our elected officials must hear from us. We must encourage our state officials to work to disentangle the states from federal involvement, including the state National Guards. If our federal government continues its push to take away our liberties, we need our states to help us to alter or abolish our federal government.