As we begin Barack Obama’s second term as president, it looks more and more like he will rely on trying to push his agenda by performing an end-run around Congress and try to govern via Executive Order (by fiat). A perfect example of this philosophy and tactic is his recent announcement regarding gun violence. Obama knows that there is no way he can get his gun agenda passed by congress (Americans are understandably fond of their rights), so he gives VP Biden a panel to head, in order to make recommendations back to the president.
Recognizing that more gun grabbing legislation would not pass Congress (and the possibility of primary fights for those who supported the legislation), he turned to executive fiat to pass his agenda. However, as noted by The Ulsterman Report, Obama was still not prepared for the backlash from citizens and gun rights advocates and had to gut his plan:
The president had his little moment, and was pretending it meant something, but he said nothing. That 21 (23) point plan or whatever it was, was hollow. It was a gutted version of what he was hoping to do as recently as a few days ago. Instead, he had to roll over and made a weak threat to Congress but that threat starts in the Senate and they already told him to shut up. Obama backed off. He lost this time, and it was all because of the American people. His media will try to spin it as something different, and if he gets another chance, the president will be right back to pushing for confiscation, but for now, we won this particular fight.
Not only was the plan gutted, but contrary to news reports, it really amounted to little more than nothing. As Gabriel Malor points out, the 23 Executive Orders that Obama was supposed to have signed amounted to nothing more than three memos:
He issued three “presidential memos” on gun control. That’s the only official action he took. The rest was a PR stunt.
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) January 17, 2013
Aside from the fact that this faulty reporting from the leftist media was narrative control to make Obama look strong and decisive, rather than defeated and impotent, this whole episode give us a glimpse into what the next four years will look like. This time the people won, but can we count on a popular uprising each time Obama dips into the Executive Order well? One could hope, but it is unlikely (there aren’t many issues that get a rise out of Americans like potential gun-grabbing).
Further, even though I had high hopes, it looks like the GOP leadership in Congress isn’t going to be much help either. Rather than holding a press conference after Obama’s remarks, there was no one out there explaining the relevance of the Second Amendment, or the dangers of governance via executive fiat. I thought that Boehner had finally “gotten it” regarding dealing with Obama (and maybe he has, we’ll have to watch the debt ceiling negotiations to see), but the GOP public relations/media consulting efforts are still virtually non-existent. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who will be sponsoring legislation to rescind Obama’s Executive Orders was the biggest exception:
And there are several of the executive orders that appear as if he’s writing new law. That cannot happen. We struck down once, the court struck Clinton down for trying this and I’m afraid that President Obama may have this king complex sort of developing and we’re going to make sure that it doesn’t happen.
This is a good start; however, it is a long shot that such legislation would be put up for a vote, let alone pass the Senate, while Harry Reid is in control. Let’s also not forget that the interests of the individual states in Congress was greatly diminished when the Seventeenth Amendment passed (most notably pushed by “progressives” and criticized for increasing federal power). Therefore, it looks like our best hope to thwart the Obama Agenda may be at the state level itself, where several conservative governors have begun to announce their displeasure with Obama’s agenda. This “resistance” seems to have started in earnest about the time it was announced that UN “observers would be watching polling centers during the presidential voting last November. Several states, most notably Texas and Iowa threatened to arrest any observers that tried to gain access to polling places.
More recently, Texas governor Rick Perry (disclaimer: I strongly supported Perry in the Republican primaries) issued a statement in response to Obama’s remarks on gun violence. Ed Morrissey has a good write-up over at Hot Air, and the full text is here. However, I want to focus specifically on the last paragraph:
In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally. The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.
This is a clear statement that the fiat of the current president does not trump the rights protected by the constitution. Perry gets it, and is not afraid to put it out there for the world to see. I am confident that Perry is not afraid of a political showdown with Obama, and will draw a line in the sand, if necessary. Texans, as a whole, do not suffer fools very well. I am sure that there are other conservative governors who share this conviction (Bobby Jindal (R-LA) comes to mind) that have not yet spoken out. However, I urge everyone to pay attention, because I believe this is where the “battle” will take place – framed as an issue of states’ rights versus a federal power grab. States are our best hope to thwart Obama and his agenda. Let’s hope more governors follow Perry’s lead. State legislatures just may regain the influence they lost in 1913.
It looks like there has been a chorus forming at the state level, albeit by law enforcement officers pledging to not enforce any legislation in violation of the 2nd Amendment or state law. One particular example from Alabama:
“The federal authorities can try to enforce it,” said Dorning. “I’m the Sheriff of Madison County. I took a constitutional oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, to defend the Constitution of the State of Alabama, even if it takes my life. That is my position.”
Sheriff Dorning is the latest in a chorus of lawmen from across America who are saying they may not enforce new gun control legislation. President Obama’s call for a new assault weapons ban and 10-round magazine limit were the headlines in what some say are the most stringent gun control measures ever. The President cannot get the two major revisions unless Congress signs off, but Sheriff Dorning said even if they do, Washington is not his final authority.
“As long as you are a law-abiding citizen, then I don’t see a problem with law-abiding citizens being able to arm themselves however they so choose,” said Dorning, who pledged to ignore any law that would call for the confiscation of assault weapons or any other firearm. “Our people in our communities and homes need not fear that the Sheriff of Madison County or his deputies would come to their homes and make an attempt to disarm them. It will not happen under my watch.”
Sheriffs in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oregon have also voiced opposition to Obama’s proposed gun control measures.