The Corner

Executive Action on Guns

It’s all speculation right now, but reportedly the president is considering 19 executive actions on gun control. Many of the ideas floating around are good ones, or at least benign ones, though there’s a separate question of where the line is between legitimate executive action and usurping the powers of Congress. The Obama administration is quite a fan of ignoring laws it doesn’t like.

From Politico:

The executive actions could include giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention authority to conduct national research on guns, more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun databases among federal and state agencies, members of Congress in the meeting said.

We can all support the enforcement of existing laws, which after all is one of the main jobs of the executive branch. Better data sharing is a good idea too.

The research-initiative idea should be scrapped though, though. Given that gun control has been studied to death already (and given how few solid findings we have to show for it), I don’t think there’s much to gain here. Also, such an initiative would probably require funding from Congress and could fall victim to political pressure.

Mother Jones recently published a list of 14 steps the administration could take without Congress, and it contains a few other worthwhile endeavors. These including appointing a full-time ATF director, cracking down on illegal attempts to buy guns, having manufacturers (rather than dealers) keep records on which individual buys which gun, and improving anti-trafficking efforts. 

If the president is smart, he will avoid turning the fight over gun control into a fight over executive power, as he will need votes from some House Republicans to get anything substantial passed. Then again, he’s gotten away with executive overreach in the past. He might very well decide to forgo the possibility of passing anything from Congress, and see what he can manage on his own.


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