Gun control and the government’s abuse of power
My objection to the current gun control effort in Washington, D.C., is only half about guns. The other half is about abuse of power. No matter which side of the gun debate you favor, you should be concerned.
Obama is not alone in trampling the Constitution. He is joined by Congress and former Republican and Democrat administrations alike, but this president has pushed hard on the abuse of power envelope. He has crossed the line a number of times and just this past week two judges advanced court cases against President Obama’s overreach.
On Friday, a federal appeals court ruled the President violated the Constitution when he filled National Labor Relations Board vacancies by recess appointments. The problem was Obama knowingly made the recess appointments while Congress was not actually in recess. A mere technicality, some would argue, but a three-judge panel ruled the President exceeded his authority by measures of “... not only logic and language, but also constitutional history ...”
Presidents in recent decades have over-used recess appointments to circumvent the “advise and consent” role of Senate approval of high level appointments, especially when the opposition party is deeply opposed to the president’s selected candidate. Now the rulings of the NLRB in recent months are in question since the board did not legally have a quorum.
My opinion? No party should circumvent the Constitutional process. Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote for the court, “Allowing the President to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers.” Two of the three judges wrote that Presidents may not hold vacancies and later fill them by appointment during Congressional recess, but may only use that power if the vacancy itself occurs during recess, a turnabout from the practice in recent decades. That surprise ruling makes so much sense, I wonder if it will actually be enforced in Washington.
Elsewhere this past week, Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Conner ruled that 10 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and officers have standing in the lawsuit they filed against their own agency.
You may recall that President Obama instructed ICE not to enforce immigration law as written, but to apply waivers on deportation proceedings based on criteria he defined, thereby granting his personal royal pass to all but those with dangerous criminal records. His imperial rationale for this breach of separation of powers? Prosecutorial discretion.
You probably know that phrase, but let me go out on a limb here and predict that when this case is adjudicated we might hear in the deciding opinion something about prosecutorial discretion being applicable to an individual case, not to a class of millions of people and thereby gutting the law by fiat.
So what happened? ICE instructed their people to follow the President’s Constitution-busting orders. They were to violate federal law or face ICE disciplinary action, and these 10 agents and officers objected and filed a lawsuit.
My opinion? The President offered the DREAM Act to ease up immigration enforcement on young people who have been in the country for a while, but it was rejected by Congress. So he waved his imperial wand to make it happen without Congress and called it “prosecutorial discretion.”
The real shame here is there was no protest of Obama’s abuse of power by government watchdogs who are sworn to uphold the Constitution, like the Attorney General. It was left to these ICE employees to incur personal expense and risk to their careers to file a lawsuit while the rest of us wait for the years it will take for this case to bubble up to the Supreme Court for a final ruling. There must be a better way.
What does any of this have to do with gun control? Bear with me.
My guess is the Assault Weapon ban bill introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-Calif.) will not get legs, and even if passed by some miracle there would be little risk the government would make any attempts to confiscate existing guns. So your guns and mine are likely safe – for now.
What bothers me most is the dishonesty and deception applied by our own government, presently gun control advocates, with little regard for Constitutional limits. And we cannot forget dereliction of duty by the mainstream media, itself a hotbed of gun control advocacy.
For example, anyone willing to spend half an hour online studying FBI crime statistics can verify that violent crime in the U.S. has dropped by half in the last 20 years. Stated a different way, violent crime was twice as bad 20 years ago as now, and a little more research shows that Great Britain, the often-mentioned land of banned guns, has a violent crime rate much higher than ours. But you don’t hear such inconvenient facts reported in the gun debates.
Another ignored fact is that unusually high crime in the U.S. is focused in urban pockets. Confronting it openly would be explosive given the racial social issues entailed, like a 70 percent single mother birth rate that starts inescapable cycles of poverty and despair, not exactly the ingredients for social stability and good citizenship.
You also don’t hear that in crimes with guns less than 3.5 percent are committed with rifles, of which “assault rifles” (ARs) are a subset. And yet, ARs are the focus of gun control advocates’ fury, likely just one step in a long but concealed list of gun control intentions.
Another fact routinely obscured is that the REAL assault weapons, machine guns that fire at a high rate of speed on automatic, have been banned since 1934. The ARs you and I can buy are only cosmetically similar but are limited in rate of fire to no more than a deer rifle or handgun, and the long-banned automatic fire is the only “military style” feature that matters.
Nevertheless, the gun control bill before the Senate takes advantage of public confusion and focuses on ARs even though ARs are not the problem. Meanwhile some elements of the real problem are ignored since the President and his Democrat supporters are rather silent on the culture of violence encouraged by a Hollywood movie industry that makes a lot of money, some of which finds its way to Democrat campaign coffers. Imagine that.
And please don’t miss this, because you won’t hear it on TV news. Sen. Feinstein’s bill bans 158 specific weapons while exempting more than 2,200 weapons for hunting and sporting purposes. Beware the exemption list for two reasons.
First, the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution says nothing about hunting or sporting, but it appears we who thought we had God-given rights are now expected to genuflect to Sen. Feinstein for granting us a hunting or sporting pass on her list of exempted weapons.
Second, the list of exempted guns is a Trojan Horse quietly slipped under the radar. Call me a conspiracy nut if you will, but if this bill passed I would expect the future effect of the exemption list to become a barrier to gun makers introducing new models and features, unless of course they somehow document the new model has been approved by Sen. Feinstein’s minions. That official bottleneck would be a gun controller’s dream.
Even though the AR ban bill likely will fail this time, it is fair to ask 2nd Amendment adherents like me whether a 10-round magazine limit and tighter background check rules would be too much to ask? That seems reasonable to me so long as the fine print is carefully screened for traps.
But here is the rub with so many of us: so long as there remains a single gun left to ban, no matter how much or little is tightened up “this time,” we stand on a slippery slope on which gun control advocates will surely have the “next round” of gun ban legislation, polished and waiting in the wings, poised for yet another try in the emotional aftermath of the next high-profile shooting and media frenzy. Because compromise will settle nothing, many on my side will refuse to budge.
Meanwhile, the real things that have gone wrong in America will likely continue unimpeded: we teach relativism now instead of values; Hollywood movies promote cheap thrills, self-gratification and little respect for others; video games immerse young minds into imaginary worlds of extreme violence and depravity; hard work and slow gains fail to meet unrealistic expectations of our youth; fame and wealth are glorified over character and achievement; and morality is trumped by the pop culture version of what is “cool.”
While our culture rots from within, we have to hope our kids are sufficiently strong of heart to reject easy and popular choices, choosing instead the tougher path with lifetime rewards.
And consider this. When our kids make good choices even though they are difficult, they are outperforming by leaps and bounds our national leaders who can’t even curtail spending money we don’t have, much less communicate with us honestly on important matters like the Constitution, separation of powers, and the real issues of gun control.
Those politicians will continue their daily games of deception and ineptitude so long as we drink their Kool-Aid and vote for them.
[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]