At the final press conference of his first term on Monday, President Barack Obama confirmed he will do what many expected and what Vice President Joe Biden had already said the president would do: bypass Congress and use executive orders and executive action to ban legal firearms in the United States.
My understanding is the vice president's going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them will require legislation, some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I will be reviewing those today, and as I said, I will speak in more detail to what we're going to go ahead and propose later in the week. But I'm confident that there are some steps that we can take that don't require legislation and that are within my authority as president, and where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it.
In response to Obama’s declaration, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) accused him of acting like a king. Speaking to CBN on Monday, Paul said:
I'm against having a king. I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress -- that's someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.
I've been opposed to executive orders, even with Republican presidents. But one that wants to infringe on the Second Amendment, we will fight tooth and nail.
And I promise you, there'll be no rock left unturned as far as trying to stop him from usurping the Constitution, running roughshod over Congress. And you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do this.
State politicians have joined those within the federal government in an attempt to ban guns, or at least make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to defend themselves. Earlier this month, a bill that would have banned 50 percent of rifles and 80 percent of handguns in the state of Illinois was introduced to the state House of Representatives, but was defeated.
Shortly after the Connecticut shooting last month, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York and a known anti-gun politician, began talking with state politicians to introduce gun confiscation. The New York Times quoted Cuomo as saying, “Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.”
As part of the new anti-gun laws, gun owners can be locked up for a mental illness if they’re considered a “threat.” This wasn’t really Cuomo’s doing, however, as NBC New York reports that the state’s Republicans pushed to have this included.
Those considered a threat would face civil confinement. Former governor Eliot Spitzer applied civil confinement to sex offenders, which allowed for offenders to be locked up in a mental institution for life. Under the new law, this will apply to gun owners, and the standard of proving guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” doesn’t necessarily apply in these cases.
Of course it should be asked, who determines what constitutes a threat? Perhaps the state will use the Department of Homeland Security's criteria, which is anyone who doesn’t trust the government is dangerous.