Obama’s tyrannical on guns? Seriously?

Whether it’s a new congressman from Texas saying President Obama should be impeached or the fevered fundraising emails from conservative groups, there are folks claiming nefarious business is being done from the White House.

Here’s an email that hit my mailbox, via the account of Newt Gingrich’s campaign organization:

Yesterday, President Obama announced a litany of radical, unconstitutional gun control proposals that he intends to ram through Congress.

The president has officially declared war on the Second Amendment and our God-given right to defend ourselves. In doing so, he has deliberately violated his oath of office.

We have no choice but to impeach!

Reading these — as well as Bangor Daily News columnist (and Republican strategist) Matt Gagnon, saying that the “executive orders” signed by President Obama constitute “circumventing the Constitution,” you’d think that there were some really controversial things in them.

Did Obama order any guns to be taken away? No.

Well, did he ban anyone from buying some sorts of guns? No.

Did Obama ban some kind of ammunition? No, again.

He did recommend some limits on guns and ammunition, which would have to be passed by Congress.

If laws with these ideas passed and someone thought they were unconstitutional, they could bring a case to the Supreme Court. And, of course, they might be ruled unconstitutional, or they might be not. In an opinion by Justice Scalia, the Court ruled that there is an individual right to own guns but the government can restrict this, too.

In any case, recommending legislation be considered is not an unconstitutional power grab.

But what did Obama’s executive actions involve? 

Frankly, I wonder if the critics actually read them.

They include things like nominating a director for the ATF, holding studies, and making sure the background check system has the information it needs to be effective. There’s also improved school response plans and a dialogue on mental health treatment.

And, yes, there’s more.

But read the below list and tell me, what could possibly constitute undermining the Constitution. 

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background-check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background-check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background- check system.

4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a Department of Justice report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun-safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to healthcare providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency-response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within Affordable Care Act exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental-health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.