Bob Barr

American essayist and civil rights leader James A. Baldwin once quipped, “The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose.” This poignant reflection of a man in the forefront what appeared at the time to be a seemingly impossible movement for racial equality, once may have served as a warning to the government that it should fear the people it oppresses. Today, however, Baldwin’s statement serves as a warning to citizens that the real object of their fear should be politicians no longer facing the risk of reelection. President Barack Obama, now comfortably ensconced in his second term, is a man with nothing to lose -- and citizens have good reason to be worried.

Late last week, buried beneath stories about Syria and the Administration’s drums of war, were two little-noticed Executive Actions, which announced yet another attempt by Obama to curtail Second Amendment rights. The announcement by the White House and the Justice Department was typically misleading. “Today, the Administration is announcing a new policy of denying requests to bring military-grade firearms back into the United States to private entities,” the White House declared piously. It added, gratuitously and erroneously, that “this new policy will help keep military-grade firearms off our streets.”

The Executive Action effectively eliminates the ability of licensed importers to supply U.S. collectors and historical gun enthusiasts with legal, U.S.-made “relic” firearms more than 50-years old, and which obviously (at least to anyone with even a passing familiarity with firearms) present no threat to public safety whatsoever.

For years, importers have worked to bring historically relevant firearms into the United States, to supply the demand for these sentimental rifles such as the M1 Garand. Yet, as one importer noted in a “Call to Action” following issuance of the Executive Action, the Administration’s decree “threatens access to these firearms by the more than 60,000 federally licensed collectors, and millions of American consumers, who actively pursue these historic collectible . . .” firearms.

As this importer correctly pointed out, the targets of this confiscatory action are old, surplus military rifles -- hardly weapons of choice for 21st Century criminals; but if one cries “MILITARY-GRADE WEAPONS!” loudly and repeatedly, even the M1 Garand your grandfather carried ashore on D-Day can be made to sound evil.

Even more troubling than the Obama Administration’s sophomoric targeting of obsolete rifles is its bumptious effort to circumvent current federal law that already regulates – and permits -- the import of U.S.-origin military surplus firearms. Rather than go through Congress to change such statutory provisions, as the Constitution dictates, the President is pressing his anti-firearms agenda through executive power. Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, know they do not have the votes in either house of Congress to win a majority vote on gun control issues. This latest executive edict is yet another example of the constitutional hubris that has come to characterize this President’s second term: "If Congress won't act, I will."

The Holy Grail of any modern president’s first term is winning a second. Obama was smart enough to realize that had he moved openly against firearms during his first four years – especially after the “Fast and Furious” scandal broke in the middle of that quadrennium – he likely would have been a one-term Chief Executive. Thus the relative silence on major gun control legislation until this year; when, in the aftermath of the Newtown mass murder, the Administration’s true colors began to emerge.

Last week’s executive actions are not the first attempt by the Obama administration to make an end run around Congress in an effort to enact unconstitutional policies; nor will they be the last. Distracted by the myriad crises surrounding this Administration at home and abroad, Congress may be too distracted at the present to focus on Obama’s escalating campaign against the Second Amendment.

The responsibility, therefore, to stop Obama’s campaign against gun rights falls to the citizenry, which must move their representatives in the Congress to stop it. A good starting point is the “Collectible Firearms Protection Act” (H.R. 2247), which will help restore the right of lawfully licensed dealers to import historically significant firearms; and of law-abiding citizens to possess them.


Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.


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