Obama Says He Will Use Executive Orders as Part of Gun Control Package

President Barack Obama, official portrait

President Obama has indicated that he will use executive orders to side-step Congress in his push for gun control.

The use of executive orders has grown over the decades. In my opinion, it has reached the point that it verges on making Congress obsolete. Aside from whatever issue is in question at the time executive orders are used, there is another, underlying issue.

Is Congress going to be reduced to a bombastic cypher? Are we in effect electing a dictator for four years when we elect a president? Has agency rule-making power, as in the case of the HHS Mandate, become a sort of unelected shadow government?

Congress has ceded its natural functions to other entities by virtue of its unwillingness to perform those functions itself. Congress has the power to belay executive orders and agency mandates. But it won’t use it because it is chasing its own legislative tail by focusing all its efforts on constant partisan wrangling. This partisan brinksmanship has reached the point that it is damaging this country directly and destroying the balance of powers indirectly.

Nature and government abhor a vacuum. If Congress refuses to use the powers it is given under the Constitution, some other governmental entity will take them up. In this case, the president, by means of executive orders and faceless agency bureaucrats, by means of regulations and mandates, are usurping Congress’s rightful function.

That means that we the people are being dealt out of the discussion. The president is the one official who should be elected by all the people, but thanks to the electoral college and modern targeted campaigning, that is no longer true.

Both presidents Bush and Obama were elected by means of targeted campaigns aimed at sections of the voters in electorally important states. These campaigns ignored the rest of the country. In November 2012, this resulted in a win for President Obama that was achieved by the odd combination of an electoral landslide coupled with a razor-thin win in the popular vote.

More and more, the president is not elected by all the people, but is, just like members of Congress, elected by targeted coalitions of special interest groups in key areas.

The result is a government so fractured and focused on itself that it no longer even attempts to govern the country. Both sides in these contentious debates about gun control, the deficit and our unending cycle of wars are focused on winning, not on governing. What I mean by that is that they are focused on what it takes to enact the law. Period.

So we have the sorry spectacle of a president who flat-out says he will use executive orders to wire around Congress on one of the most contentious issues facing the country. This is a disastrous move for the country. It can and will create more divisiveness and anger in an already divided and angry nation.

The Associated Press article discussing President Obama’s plans for the upcoming gun control debate reads in part:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing powerful opposition to sweeping gun regulations, President Barack Obama is weighing 19 steps he could take through executive action alone, congressional officials said. But the scope of such measures is limited.

The steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks, seeking to ensure more complete records in the federal background check database, striking limits on federal research into gun use, ordering tougher penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety.

Obama is expected to unveil his proposals Wednesday, barely over a month since the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., thrust the gun issue into the national spotlight after years of inaction by Obama and lawmakers.

At the same time Obama is vowing not to back off his support for sweeping gun legislation that would require congressional backing — including banning assault weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and instituting universal background checks — despite opposition from the influential gun lobby.

“Will all of them get through this Congress? I don’t know,” Obama said at a news conference Monday.

“My starting point is not to worry about the politics,” he said. “My starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works.”

The president said he would unveil a comprehensive roadmap for curbing gun violence within days. His plan will be based on recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden’s gun task force and is expected to include both legislative proposals and steps Obama can implement by himself, using his presidential powers.

White House officials believe moving swiftly on gun proposals at a national level, before the shock over the Newtown shooting fades, gives Obama the best chance to get his proposals through Congress. (Read more here.)

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    You’re right, of course, Congress has abdicated its role in governing, delegating its power all over the place, still this is exactly the issue he need to keeps EO’s out of. It’s far too hot, he could, however try enforcing the laws he has, and that his AG ignores.

    How we fix the rest of the train wreck, I have no idea but, we’d be well advised to try something.

  • Kenneth

    It’s just the usual Washington gamesmanship. Threats of “action by executive order” boil down to saying “I’m going to really enforce the existing laws even more than last month, when I committed to enforcing them 100%.” All that can really come out of it in practical terms is that the ATF or some AG will make a couple of high-profile trafficking cases. Meanwhile, it makes Obama look good to his political base, and sounds like a pressure point to push Congress into doing something more substantial.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Obama is playing with fire. The gun issue is already emotionally charged and constitutionally charged. My goodness. Someone has dubbed Obama the Great Divider. The name fits perfectly. And to be honest, this is unnecessary on Obama’s part. None of what he’s going to do will make much of a difference. It’s really all ego on his part. Good Lord, this president is thick. He really is a left wing ideologue.

    • Sus

      The division isn’t Obama’s fault. We are dividing ourselves by refusing to hear each other.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        “We are dividing ourselves by refusing to hear each other.”

        And it’s Obama’s job to be the premier listener.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Dave is correct below. The public is multi faceted and will always be no-cohesive. It’s the job of the leader to pull it together. I believe Obama wants us to divide, so he can build a small majority (which he got through the election results), and shove whatever he wants down our throats. I think he feels it’s in his interest to keep us divided. Actually he’s shoving things down our throats now through executive orders.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    Seriously, if he really makes a gun control EO of any consequence, he either really does want to destroy America like the extreme right says, or he’s even dumber than I could have imagined. PASS.A.LAW. That is all.

    • Sus

      How can a law be passed? Congress has made it clear they don’t want to work with Obama.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        Executive Orders are basically tyranny. We have a three-pronged separation of powers for a reason. You seem to lean Dem so it probably seems like a good idea to you now, but just imagine the next GOP President who will use EO’s because the Dem Congress “doesn’t want to work with him/her” (translate: will not roll over to). EO’s are a bad idea, no matter which side is using them (and yes, GWB used them quite liberally as well, but never on such a touchy issue)

        Issuing a tyrannical order on the subject of guns (especially if it involves confiscation) is almost guaranteed to cause gun violence to suddenly go through the roof, which is (I thought) what we were trying to avoid.

        • Sus

          I should have prefaced my comments by saying I don’t agree with most EOs – no matter who the issuer is. I also think Obama should listen but he should also be a leader and bring Congress together. However, I have NO IDEA on how to make that happen when Congress doesn’t seem to want to get together and do anything for this country if Obama’s name is attached.

          In the article linked, the only thing I read about confiscation was: “Grants could also go to communities to institute programs to get guns away from people who shouldn’t have them, said the lawmaker, adding these were steps the president could take without Congress.”

          “people who shouldn’t have them” needs to be clearly defined so people don’t use that as an excuse to start a civil war.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Who’s fault is that Sus? Obama is acting like a bully at every turn. He refuses to negotiate. It’s all him and his way. Read Bob Woodward’s book, and Woodward is no right winger.

  • FW Ken

    The separation of powers is established in the Constitution for a reason. When one branch of government gains to much power there is supposed to be a check from the other two branches. Hopefully, the courts will do what Congress is unwilling to do.

  • Peg

    I agree that EO’s are a form of tyranny and It seems both parties are there. Something tells me these plans are already in place long before the tragedies our politicians use to quickly push their agenda’s–Bush to get into Iraq or Obama to chip away at separation of powers. Wag the Dog…

    I’d like to see a real movement for violence control in our country beginning with how we communicate with our verbal and written words to each other. And wonder how can we really trust a leader to have a real answer to random violence who has pushed an agenda of intentional violence toward our youngest children in the place they should be the safest–in their mothers womb?

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