By now you probably have heard that President Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun safety. You might also have heard Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY) comments that by signing them, President Obama morphed himself into King Obama and that he plans to introduce legislation to nullify any that “smack of legislation,” because he believes some do. I reached out to the Senator’s office to see if I could get more information on his proposal or which orders he finds problematic but have yet to receive a response. I want to be fair to the Senator, I don’t disagree with him on everything so I hope I someone from there will get back to me.
Executive orders are not legislation nor are they directed at the general public. They are directives for the federal government. You can read the Congressional Research Service report on executive orders here. After reading through the orders themselves, I saw none that A, look like legislation or B, would impact any current or future/prospective gun owners. I am not alone in that assessment. Rich Ungar from Forbes wrote the very same thing here. He published all 23 of them and concluded:
“It does not appear that any of the executive orders would have any impact on the guns people currently own-or would like to purchase- and that all proposals regarding limiting the availability of assault weapons or large ammunition magazines will be proposed for Congressional action. As such, any potential effort to create a constitutional crisis—or the leveling of charges that the White House has overstepped its executive authority—would hold no validity.”
Now, despite what gun advocates have been saying, no one thinks any one new law will prevent all gun violence any more than current laws prevent all crime but that does not mean enacting provisions such as universal background checks or reinstating the assault weapons ban will do nothing. When one person can walk into a school or movie theatre or place of worship and kill or injure more than 50 people (Aurora), that’s a problem.
But this conversation needs to be bigger -- and one reason I am so upset with the National Rifle Association (NRA) is that I agree with some of what they said but their statements advocating addressing violence in movies/video games and dealing with mental health issues were lost in the outrage over how stupid a “press conference” Wayne LaPierre gave. Yes, we need to deal with mental health parity (one of the much maligned executive orders calls for this) and we should talk about violence in movies and video games -- as much as I love the First Amendment, it is no more absolute than the Second but making sure dangerous people do not have access to weapons is a good idea. We need to start somewhere and closing loopholes that let people with mental health issues or criminal/terrorist background seems like as good a place as any to start.
Note to Senator Rand Paul: If you want to respond to my questions about your objections to the gun safety executive orders, I will be more than happy to put it up unedited. Just let me know.