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President Obama’s announcement last week on his plans to make sweeping changes to our nation’s gun laws by presidential executive order is yet another example of his continual disregard for the United States Constitution and the separation of powers it set forth to protect the American people from government by fiat.
Putting aside for a moment the misdirected emphasis on gun ownership, as opposed to mental illness and cultural glorification of violence to curb gun crime, President Obama’s actions represent another attempt to circumvent Congress – a Congress elected by the people but controlled by Republicans – to establish public policy that supports his liberal agenda.
As we all learn early on in grade-school civics class, one of the most important and distinguishing aspects of our government is the system of checks and balances. Our Founding Fathers created a system of divided government, where the power at the federal government is separated among three distinct branches: the legislative (Congress), the executive (the president) and the judiciary (the Supreme Court).
Yet time and time again, when President Obama has met resistance from Congress, the check on his powers in the executive branch, he has found ways to circumvent our system and impose his views and vision.
- Two days after he took office, President Obama rescinded by executive order the “Mexico City policy,” which prevents foreign aid going to organizations that perform or promote abortions. No legislation passed, no debate, just an executive order.
- In early 2011, the Obama administration stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, a law duly passed by Congress and signed into law. Here President Obama has directed his Department of Justice to ignore the Constitution and separation of powers and not enforce a law.
- In early 2012, Obama’s Health and Human Services department set forth the so-called “contraceptive mandate,” which requires all employers – including religious charities and institutions – to provide free contraception to all employees, a clear violation of the Constitution’s guarantees for freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
- Last June, the president announced that the Department of Homeland Security will no longer deport young illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria. These criteria were proposed by the controversial DREAM Act, which has been working its way through Congress but has not been passed into law. Forget about whether this is a good law or a bad one; it’s about respecting the legislative process and letting these issues be debated and discussed. No, instead the president just picked aspects of the bill he liked and ordered his administration to follow them, even if they are illegal.
- Earlier this month, as the nation endured the “fiscal cliff” crises and negotiation, the administration floated the idea of minting the trillion-dollar coin. Why? Because the president needs Congress to raise the debt ceiling for the U.S. Treasury to borrow more to fund the government. Rather than have to negotiate with Congress, he could have had the U.S. Mint create a coin for $1 trillion and deposit it in the treasury. Though ultimately rejected as an idea, once again here was a plan to avoid confronting the “check” in the system – the Republican-controlled House.
This brings us to Wednesday’s announcement of 23 executive orders to be signed by the president to attempt to address gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Once again, rather than respect the rule of law and the checks and balances in our system, President Obama is unilaterally implementing public policy without the normal process that involves legislation, debate and passage by a vote of Congress.
And I take issue with the underlying policy, too. There are some reasonable suggestions in the president’s orders, but I reject the administration’s efforts to take more control of our lives on the gun issue, when we already have laws in place. The Bill of Rights clearly states that our government cannot stand in the way of law-abiding citizens using their legal firearms as a means of self-protection.
Last year, my wife, Karen, and I formed the Patriot Voices organization to amplify the voice of one with a million others. Rather than accepting the unilateral policy decisions and liberal agenda of the Obama administration, we are fighting to protect faith, freedom, family and opportunity. We urge you to join us in this fight to identify and confront the threats to what we hold dear.