Washington D.C. – President Obama is starting off 2016 with a strong call for gun control measures through the use of presidential executive orders. In 2015, Obama made several promises and appeals to lawmakers and the American people regarding the need for tighter restrictions on purchasing firearms.
US News reports that White House aides stated that Obama will exercise his executive authority later this week and possibly change the background check policy for small-scale gun dealers. This is known as the “gun show loophole” because small arms dealers often able to sell at gun shows without conducting background checks on prospective buyers.
Although Congress would still need to change the current laws before background checks become universal, the Obama administration is attempting to find a provision in the law that could allow unilateral action.
Republican presidential candidates were quick to criticize the potential executive order. Presidential candidate and Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, told Fox News Sunday: “The president is a petulant child. Whenever he doesn’t get what he wants… this president acts like a king.” Fellow presidential candidate Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, also told Fox News, “The president has a pattern of taking away rights of citizens.”
In addition to anticipated action on guns, CNN reported that the news station would host a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss gun control action. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will host a one-hour live town hall meeting with Obama at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. The event, titled “Guns in America”, is scheduled for 8 p.m. Eastern Thursday night.
CNN also reported that although plans for the executive orders are not complete, President Obama is attempting to reveal the plans before his annual State of the Union address on January 12.
In President Obama’s weekly radio address he said he has received “too many letters from parents, and teachers, and kids, to sit around and do nothing” about the issue.
“Change, as always, is going to take all of us,” Obama said in his address. “The gun lobby is loud and well organized in its defense of effortlessly available guns for anyone. The rest of us are going to have to be just as passionate and well organized in our defense of our kids. That’s the work of citizenship — to stand up and fight for the change that we seek.”
Democratic Presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told “State of the Union” that he wishes there was another way but supports President Obama.
“I would prefer that we could have bipartisan support, but the truth is Republicans aren’t interested in doing anything on gun safety,” Sanders said.
Former Secretary of State and current front-runner in the Democratic presidential race Hillary Clinton said she worries that a Republican president would repeal executive actions, “including one that we expect (Obama) to make in the next weeks to try to do more to have background checks for more gun buyers by requiring more sellers to do them.”
Conservative advocacy group Freedom Watch told Reuters on Sunday that the group will “sue to block any executive order on gun control.”
President Obama could take action that does not require executive order. As Reuters recently reported, Obama “could direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to redefine its guidance on who is considered a dealer under federal gun law.” However, this would only be advisory and not strong enough to enforce the law.
“The guidance could be used as evidence that prosecutors made a reasonable interpretation that a dealer needed a license, but it’s not binding,” James Jacobs, law professor at New York University and author of the 2004 book Can Gun Control Work?, told Reuters.
The outcome of such an attempt could be that Republican lawmakers attempt to defund the ATF in order to combat such a guidance change.
However, Stanford University law professor John Donohue told Reuters that he does not think requiring background checks would be great enough to warrant a legal challenge. “There are very few things I’d say with 100 percent certainty about what the Supreme Court and other courts would do, but I’m 100 percent certain that no court would say requiring more background checks violates the Second Amendment,” said Donohue.
According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, “fifty-one percent of Americans oppose more stringent gun-control laws and 48 percent favor them. Thirty-nine percent say Obama has gone too far in changing gun laws; 38 percent say he hasn’t gone far enough, and 20 percent say he has done about the right amount.”
Focusing on whether or not requiring background checks is illegal seems to ignore the larger question: is President Obama’s unilateral action legal or constitutional?
Activists, media, and political pundits were quick to call out President George W. Bush’s unilateral action on war-making, surveillance and torture, but seem less inclined to call out a Democratic president for unilateral actions, especially when the actions favor their causes, like gun control. Lovers of liberation should do their part to remain principled in the face of government oppression and media lies.
Stay tuned to Truth In Media for more on this developing situation.