The president didn't even write or sign one executive order on the subject. And yet, the media keeps repeating the term. Even the original caption for the Getty Images photo used in this article said, "U.S. President Barack Obama signs a series of executive orders about the administration's new gun law proposals ... " That's not true.
Forbes published an article called "Here Are The 23 Executive Orders On Gun Safety Signed Today By The President". They list 23 sentences. Executive orders are usually several paragraphs and have the power to override Congress. A memorandum doesn't have that power.
David Weigel wrote an article for Slate that called out seven reporters, including himself, for referring to the three memorandums as executive orders.
Weigel wrote: "You know, I think the pre-game panic about the very idea of Obama 'signing executive orders' -- I think that got into our heads. The result, ironically, was that a lot of people learned that Obama did something very scary -- 23 ORDERs, above and beyond the will of Congress! -- that he didn't do, at all. If nominating an ATF director was done by 'an executive order,' the Senate wouldn't have to confirm him."
That was the right thing to do. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes and Weigel had the integrity to apologize for it. I don't recall Wolf Blitzer of CNN or Neal Cavuto of Fox News apologizing for their misstatements.
- "Engaging in Public Health Research on the Causes and Prevention of Gun Violence" - In it, Obama said that the Health and Human Services secretary "shall conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it." This memorandum is duplicated on the White House website and listed as a proclamation also.
- "Tracing of Firearms in Connection with Criminal Investigations" - In short, this tells the ATF and other federal agencies to do their jobs in a "timely and efficient manner."
- "Improving Availability of Relevant Executive Branch Records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System" - This tells federal agencies to submit "relevant records" to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It also creates a "NICS Consultation and Coordination Working Group" that is chaired by the attorney general and includes representatives from the Defense Department and Homeland Security.
In my opinion, it's all a lie perpetrated by the media and the government to make the president look good. He stood up there — with all those children who wrote him letters asking him to ban guns — and he never really did anything. He's actually, for the most part, powerless to do anything — it's up to Congress.