The meeting yesterday between Vice President Joe Biden’s gun control task force and the National Rifle Association didn’t go that well. Biden is expected to hand his recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, who will, in turn, push for legislation from Congress to enact them.
In addition to reintroducing the assault weapons ban and trying to eliminate the so-called “gun show loophole,” Biden laid down some of the policies that will be pursued by the White House in Congress in the coming days:
Biden gave the most detailed description so far of what his panel will propose, telling sporting groups at the start of their session that there is broad consensus among those he has surveyed to require background checks on all gun purchases and to restrict the amount of ammunition that can be included in a gun magazine.
After the meeting the NRA issued a statement explaining, “While claiming that no policy proposals would be ‘prejudged,’ this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans.”
Some may be questioning why the NRA even entertained the White House when the outcome was so obvious. From a standpoint of public perception, it’s not like they had much of a choice. If they didn’t go, it would look like they weren’t even interested in a discussion. But if they did go, they provided the White House with a talking point that they had “met with the NRA.” It was a lose-lose for them.
The NRA will begin organizing against President Obama, but they may not be able to stop him if he uses executive orders to bypass the legislative process. There is precedent, as Jamie Dupree notes, for a president to use executive order, which Obama is apparently prepared to take, to enact some gun control measures:
The first time it happened was in 1989, after a mass school shooting Stockton, California, as President George H.W. Bush used a 1968 gun control law to limit the importation of foreign firearms - his executive order banned the shipment of certain assault weapons, unless they were used for sporting purposes.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton expanded on the Bush Administration move by banning the import of almost five dozen different assault weapons that had been modified to get through that “sporting purposes” exemption.
Dupree also explains that Obama would likely have to work within the confines of existing federal law to make any executive order, explaining that the “White House could only nibble around the edges of this debate with executive orders when it comes to imported weapons, maybe background checks and reporting of multiple gun purchases.”
This angle is concerning since the Constitution designates legislative authority to Congress. The executive banch is supposed to execute the laws passed by legislative branch, which is part of our government with equal power. The presidency was never intended to have so much authority that he could abitrarily make laws by executive fiat.