Lawmakers decry Obama’s planned gun control orders
Published 8:12 am Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Following the announcement by President Barack Obama that he intends to issue Executive Orders dealing with gun control, several lawmakers are speaking out against the move.
On Monday, the White House released a statement regarding the President’s plans to use executive actions to “reduce gun violence and make our communities safer” but many are saying the move by Obama oversteps his authority, and some are calling the move unconstitutional.
“Gun violence has taken a heartbreaking toll on too many communities across the country. Over the past decade in America, more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun,” the statement from the White House said. “Many of these crimes were committed by people who never should have been able to purchase a gun in the first place. Over the same period, hundreds of thousands of other people in our communities committed suicide with a gun and nearly half a million people suffered other gun injuries.”
“Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been shot to death protecting their communities. And too many children are killed or injured by firearms every year, often by accident,” the statement continued. “The vast majority of Americans—including the vast majority of gun owners—believe we must take sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies.”
According to the statement, Obama plans to issue a series of Executive Orders to implement a series of changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“Some of the gaps in our country’s gun laws can only be fixed through legislation, which is why the President continues to call on Congress to pass the kind of commonsense gun safety reforms supported by a majority of the American people,” the statement said, adding that because Congress “has repeatedly failed to take action” Obama decided to issue Executive Orders.
Listed among the steps which Obama intends to take with the orders are:
• Increased background checks
• Adding more than 230 employees to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to process the background checks and increased funding to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) to fund 200 new ATF agents and investigators to enforce gun laws.
• Establish a system to track illegal online firearms trafficking
• Dedicating $4 million and additional personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network.
• Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system, including a proposed $500 million in new funding to increase access to mental health care.
• Direct the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.
In response to the announcement by the White House, many lawmakers have spoken out against the President’s decision to issue Executive Orders regarding the nation’s gun control laws.
“It’s not hard to understand why so many Tennesseans fear that the president will abuse his authority and act in a way that infringes upon their Second Amendment rights,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn). “Like most Americans, I want to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and dangerous mentally ill people, but the president’s expected unilateral actions would be divisive and detrimental to real solutions.”
“After reviewing the details, I will work with my colleagues to respond appropriately to ensure the Constitution is respected,” Corker added.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D., spoke out more adamantly against the President’s move, calling the proposed orders “unconstitutional.”
“I am adamantly, 100 percent opposed to President Obama’s unconstitutional actions on gun control,” Roe said. “Instead of leading the country in a debate about how to improve our mental health care system, which might actually prevent future mass killings, the president is hell-bent on punishing law-abiding citizens by taking away the rights granted to them in the Constitution. The simple fact is not a single mass shooting committed over the last few years would have been prevented by these executive actions.”
Roe also criticized Obama for overstepping his authority when it comes to the nation’s laws.
“Let me say it again: it is the job of the Executive Branch to enforce the law, not unilaterally, and possibly illegally, change laws to avoid working with the people’s elected representatives,” Roe said. “You can’t fight terrorism and stop mass killings with a pen, and I guarantee you won’t do either by infringing on the rights of the people who already play by the rules. This has got to stop, and you better believe I’ll fight to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens.”
On Tuesday, it was not just members of the United States Congress who spoke out against the Executive Orders, some state lawmakers let their opinions be known as well.
Tennessee State Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican who represents Weakly County as well as portions of Obion and Carroll Counties, released an open letter to Obama telling the President if he wants his “unconstitutional Executive Orders” enforced he can do it himself.
“This week you have announced your plan to enforce unilateral, unconstitutional executive orders on gun control. Well, here in Tennessee, we aren’t buying it,” Holt said in his letter. “You should note that when Congress refuses to act, it’s because the will of the people compel them to do so. That does not then give you the green light to usurp the legislative jurisdiction of Congress.”
Holt goes on to say that the proposals by Obama will rely heavily on the states to enforce them and reminds the President that the states have “powerful means to oppose such actions” through using state legislation. In his letter, Holt cites several Supreme Court cases spanning from 1842 through 2012 where the Supreme Court ruled the federal government cannot compel the state to enforce federal rules or laws regardless of whether or not the rule or law is constitutional.
“Essentially, if the feds want to enforce the law, then they can come here and do it themselves. You and your friends on the Left often yell and scream while calling those who support this type of resistance to federal power ‘neo-confederates’ and so on,” Holt said. “However, your friends seem more than willing to practice resistance to federal power when it comes to Colorado’s marijuana operation, or California’s sanctuary cities, and you are more than willing to look the other way while it happens. Therefore, the State of Tennessee is more than willing to tell you Mr. President, if you want to enforce your unconstitutional executive orders… come on down to Rocky Top and do it yourself.”