Robert Knight

Leave it to Barack Obama to come into his inaugural weekend with a bang, and not just on guns. He’s made it clear that he intends more spending, more regulation, more radical appointees and less national defense in his second term.

Since he just fired a load of executive orders on gun control like shotgun pellets at a duck hunt, I think it’s time to ask a few questions about this part of his agenda. The first one’s for the president.

Why did you have children prominently displayed at your press conference? Were you implying that anyone who opposes your policies wants to see children shot? I think you were.

Second, did you really justify your assault on the Second Amendment partly by equating safe shopping with the “right of assembly?” Finally, in citing the “right to life,” did you see any irony in being the most pro-abortion president in history? You support even partial-birth abortion, and when you were a state senator, you killed legislation that would have required doctors to treat children who survive abortions.

Now here’s a more general question: What exactly are executive orders?

You won’t find them in the Constitution. They’re derived from Article II, which confers executive power on the president to “take care that all laws be faithfully executed.” Executive orders are work orders from the president to employees of federal agencies. They do not apply to state or local governments. They direct the implementation of statutes that Congress enacts and which are signed by the president into law. If they go beyond this, they are unconstitutional.

A look at some of the 23 gun control executive orders that Barack Obama issued on January 16 leaves one wondering whether the president, as Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry would say, is “a man who knows his limitations.” If a Republican president issued 23 executive orders on a single subject, the media would pronounce him “obsessed.”

One of the orders calls for “incentives for states to share information with the background check system.” Funny, Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to want to apply this principle to voter registration in order to curtail vote fraud.

Mr. Obama also wants “federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.” Since most criminal enforcement occurs at the local and state levels, this would seem to give the feds carte blanche to insert themselves into every crime scene that involves a recovered firearm. Maybe they already do that. I hope not.

Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.