A Hill Talk editorial:  Executive Action on guns unneeded

As he visited family members of victims of the Umpqua Community College shooting late last week, the president did not hesitate to remind the nation of its responsibility to prevent massacres such as these from occurring again.

“I’ve got some very strong feelings about this, because when you talk to these families, you are reminded that this could be happening to your child, or your mom, or your dad, or your relative, or your friend,” the president averred.

Similarly, stating there is an “ongoing effort on the part of the president’s team” to determine solutions to prevent crime, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added:   “And the fact is there are a lot of things that can be done that don’t undermine the basic constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans.”

While not explicitly announcing the president would resort to Executive Action, it was explicitly implied.  The use of Executive Action to expand background check would be a mistake and done from a perilous position.  Posturing himself as an agent of healing in the wake of national tragedy, Mr. Obama has quietly leaked the prospect he will resort to Executive Action on guns.

Using his one-size-fits-all method, Mr. Obama’s selling point has remained consistent:  Any new anti-gun measures create a safer society.  Under his transparent logic, the only device to underwrite a safer society is for the president to sign an executive order.

Following Mr. Obama’s rationale on this issue is challenging.  For the first two-year period of his first term, the president’s party controlled both chambers of Congress and not once did the issue of gun control emerge as a consequential issue.  Further, no legislation emerged when they clutched control of Congress.

Still, though, Mr. Obama has hastily threatened to use Executive Action.  While he has failed to articulate how his application of Executive Action to expand background checks will reduce crime, he appears to be perfectly content to expand his own power and act on this issue.  Inter alia:  Unconcerned with mental-health issues, criminal behavior or intolerance of the perpetrator, Mr. Obama reasons guns or faulty gun laws are the problem and he must act because Congress refuses.

The broader concept of what is at stake is the misuse of power.  While it is true Mr. Obama has resorted to Executive Action less often than his predecessors, it is the issues on which he acts which are troubling.  On guns and immigration particularly, areas which Mr. Obama contends exertion is most needed, his signing Executive Actions only reveals himself to be a mere ideologue, agitated, angry and impatient.  Often, as with an ideologue, he demonizes his opponents as unfaithful and guilty of apostasy and announces he is a man of clear and righteous convictions.

Further, he inscribes Executive Actions on issues which traditionally demanded the close collaboration of Congress.  Given the nature of the issues he has acted on with Executive Action, one can reliably hypothesize Mr. Obama will move on guns specifically to prevent Congress from deliberating on the matter and functioning altogether.

A more illuminating answer would be to encourage healthy, spirited and nuanced debate in Congress on the origins of crime, the evaluation of the criminal and the lawful alternatives to gun control.  On the contrary, Mr. Obama appears resolute in silencing critics, paralyzing Congress or is simply looking to avoid another staggering brawl with Congress and conservatives through Executive Action.  This is yet another symptom of why Washington does not function properly.

To be fair, all presidents have at one time or another sought to defy the legislative or judicial branches; however, for a man who routinely casts himself as clutching progressive values or openness and inclusivity, unilateral action by performing an end-around Congress is his preferred choice.

Should Mr. Obama choose to bypass Congress and issue an Executive Action, he will expose himself to a fair amount of opprobrium from conservatives and constitutionalists who will accuse him of acting as a potentate satisfying his whims.  In response, the Left will offer Mr. Obama shelter from the firestorm by reminding their opponents to respect the rule of law whether they liked the outcome or not.  In no small irony is the fact those who defend the president most vigorously are the same crowd who howled with indignation when a conservative president acted similarly but on less contentious issues.

We should not expect a miraculous transformation; gun control has been a hobbyhorse for Mr. Obama, particularly when it can be a handy distraction from glaring domestic or foreign policy disasters elsewhere.  It is likely he will sidestep Congress with an Executive Action and offer maintenance to his constituents who support an outright ban on lawful handgun ownership.

While Mr. Obama speaks from the Ivory Tower with remarkable hubris, Executive Action on guns is unnecessary and debases democracy.  Mr. Obama, however, will likely emerge with a martyred look on his face and his image burnished among a certain flock until the next mass murder takes place.


[FoxNews] [Photo courtesy Thetruthrevolt.com]