Quote of the Day

Juan Williams:

“I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to eliminating funding for implementation, defunding the White House, and even filing articles of impeachment,” Stockman said. “If the president is allowed to suspend constitutional rights on his own personal whims, our free republic has effectively ceased to exist.”

Sorry, Congressman but in gun lingo you have just shot off your rhetorical buckshot before having a clear view of the target, in this case, the facts.

Article II of the U.S. Constitution clearly grants Obama and any other president the authority and the discretion to issue executive orders with the force of law over the sale of guns and ammunition….

To be crystal clear: President Obama has the legal authority to enact gun safety measures through executive order. That is not a matter of opinion. It is a statement of fact. And there is historical precedent. Presidents have historically used this tool to implement a wide range of public policies that they believe to be in the best interest of the nation. The Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, was President Abraham Lincoln’s exercise of his executive order power to free slaves….

To recap: the president is reportedly considering universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning high-capacity magazines, banning some military-type assault weapons and restricting the sale of guns to the mentally ill.

In spite of an avalanche of facts, some gun extremists still insist the Constitution does not allow the president to propose or enact – through executive action – gun control laws.

The straight shot here is that the same Constitution that guarantees the right to own a gun also guarantees the right for all Americans to take steps to be safe in the streets and even in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • RDH

    I don’t dispute your post at all. Too many people have turned the Second Amendment into an idol. Now do you think we could also get the President to lay aside fears of angering First Amendment supporters by issuing some executive orders to get shyster televangelists off the TV, shut up some loud-mouthed talk-show hosts, ban violent video games and gory movies and start licensing journalists the way we license other professionals?

  • Jim

    Where in Article ll does it ‘clearly grant Obama and any other president the authority and the discretion to issue executive orders with the force of law over the sale of guns and ammunition?”

    Anyone?

  • Robin

    I just don’t think Juan is correct. The things he is talking about are laws.laws which would have to be codified in statute, and only congress can do that. The whole point of the recent Lincoln movie was that the emancipation proclamation was an executive order that would only be valid as a wartime executive order and it would be unconstitutional once the war ended…so they had to get a constitutional amendment…passed by congress.

    I’m willing to believe otherwise, Juan just doesn’t present a very convincing case.

  • Robin

    As a thought experiment, lets imagine a law that would tiptoe around the edges in infinging on something protected in the bill of rights…how about requiring that pastors be licensed by the state to preach and update their licensure at regular intervals.

    It wouldn’t directly “respect” an establishment of religion or prohibit free exercise, it would just ensure that preachers were properly regulated and keep hucksters out of the ministry. We could maybe tighten the licensure to keep out certain theologies as well (snake handlers, healers, arminians) :)

    Now, this would be a controversial law, possibly unconstitutional, but in principle really no different than some of the executive orders being discussed. Do you really believe that the President could enact such an important law by executive order without any congressional oversight whatsoever?

    I don’t. And I think some of the executive orders that most resemble traditional legislation (assault weapons ban, magazine capacities, etc.) will ultimately require congress to act.

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    Obama has used executive orders with less frequency than any president in the last 100 years. Fact. I am so sick of the way people’s lack of knowledge and understanding of how the government work is being manipulated to stoke false fears. It’s vile and disgusting. And executive order must reference a specific law already enacted by congress. It is usually procedural or an order telling another part of the government to enact the existing law in a particular way. For example, Obama has ordered law enforcement to make their data bases available for immediate background checks on gun sales. The law already requires background checks using law enforcement data bases, but the execution was poor.

    Basically Obama’s orders are aimed at tightening up the enforcement and execution of existing gun laws. Every time gun laws are discussed, the standard response from the NRA for years has been that we need to enforce existing gun laws, not write new ones. So the president is doing just that and now he’s a dictator who needs to be impeached? WTFudge? I really think that the reality that people simply hate this president more than they love their country is being made as plain as day.

  • Robin

    Rebecca,

    I agree with you on most of the 23 executive orders the President unveiled, but what Juan Williams specifically said above is:

    “The U.S. Constitution clearly grants Obama and any other president the authority and the discretion to issue executive orders with the force of law over the sale of guns and ammunition…the president is reportedly considering universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, banning high-capacity magazines, banning some military-type assault weapons and restricting the sale of guns to the mentally ill.”

    I don’t think executive orders can be used on most of those things because they aren’t minor changes to existing law, the would effectively require the executive to act as prime legislator.

  • http://www.theupsidedownworld.com Rebecca Trotter

    The orders Obama is looking at are minor compared to the way executive orders have been used by other presidents. GW Bush in particular pushed the use of executive orders to their extreme. It may well be that Obama is pushing the envelope, but that’s what we have courts for and it’s not in the least unusual for a president to do. What I object to is the hysteria around Obama and this issue. And the attempts to portray this action as anything other than a pretty standard use of presidential powers are really objectionable. This morning I saw a cartoon showing Obama putting the constitution through a shredder labeled “executive orders”. I know people who genuinely think Obama is seeking a dictatorship.

    You can argue with the policies and certainly, like with many executive orders that presidents pass, some of these will wind up in court. But all of this is within the normal working of the government. Pretending that it’s not and somehow represents a power grab which we ought to be frightened by is a mendacious lie meant to manipulate people into reaction out of false fears. I think it’s being done to take attention away from the substance of the issues involved. There are a lot of people making a lot of money off of people’s fears that the government is out of control and wants to disarm everyone. I really think that’s all that’s behind this and it’s disheartening to see so many people fall for it.

  • http://bookwi.se Adam Shields

    Rebecca is exactly right. If congress does not like the executive orders then they can pass legislation that would change them. That is the way that the government works. I am all for reigning in the executive authority of the President, but the reality is that Obama has done nothing with these 23 orders (most of them are extremely limited) that has not been surpassed by previous Presidents.

    I could cite some very extreme executive orders but that would turn the discussion political in another way. The point is that this is not nearly as extreme as it is being painted. And Juan Williams should know that. He has reported much more extreme executive orders in the past.

  • Marshall

    @Jim: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3. Well, that’s not the Second Amendment, which goes to show that government (on good days) is about more than the application of deadly force.

    I don’t believe that most people have actually looked at what’s in the Executive Actions of Evil*. Magazine size, banning types of weapons, and that other blood-stirring stuff is in legislation that Obama proposes to send to Congress pretty soon now, where democracy will have its way. The EAs are not-quite-superthreatening stuff like “18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.” Does not an armed guard count as a “school resource officer”? So what’s the bitch?

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/01/16/read_president_obama_s_new_proposed_executive_orders_and_legislation_on.html

  • Robin

    Marshall, Rebecca, and Adam,

    My point is not about the actual executive actions that the President has introduced. I have looked through them; they are innocuous.

    My point is that the executive order power isn’t nearly as broad as Juan Williams has stated it is. Juan Williams is ignorant and his quote his incorrect. I know it is incorrect because the things he mentions (assault weapons ban, magazine size, etc.) are being proposed as new legislation because the President knows he doesn’t have the Executive Order authority to implement them.

    So in summary (1) The republicans went bananas over mostly innocuous executive orders (2) Juan Williams is just as ignorant as the Republicans because he thinks the President has self-originating legislative authority (3) the President knows that’s not true, so his executive orders are minor and he is pushing the real legislation through the legislative process.

  • Jim

    @9: Marshall: Oh! THAT Article 2! :-) Thanks!

  • Mark E. Smith

    I’m not sure what part of Article 2 Williams is referring to. There are four sections, not one of which speak of executive orders, no matter what the subject, even gun control.


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