Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 8:31 pm | Fair 49º

David Harsanyi: On Guns, Obama’s Presidential Abuse of Power

By David Harsanyi | @davidharsanyi |

When President Barack Obama implored Americans to “do the right thing” on gun restriction during a news conference this week, the “right thing” should have been obvious to everyone. Absolute moral authority — it’s the only way to go.

If you fail to see the picture as clearly as the president, you may be an extremist or, more than likely, you’re too feeble-minded to withstand the Jedi mind tricks employed by gun merchants or radio talk show hosts or the National Rifle Association or all those folks “ginning up fear” on the issue, according to a president who trots out 7-year-olds to shield him from debate.

Now, the 23 executive orders Obama signed that are aimed at “reducing gun violence” could be considered, at worst, cynically political or, at best, completely useless. But the way Obama treats the process, children, the debate, the Constitution and the American people is another story.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently remarked that “someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress — that’s someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.” That may be a bit hyperbolic, but it is also a bit true.

“There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America,” Obama lectured, “who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection.” (Or — as it must have slipped the president’s mind — the right to put a gun in a case labeled “open in case of tyranny.”)

Obama went on to profess that he believes that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. If this were true for Obama, who was once a constitutional law lecturer at the University of Chicago, why would he attempt to restrict a right that is explicitly laid out in the Bill of Rights (even if it were eminently sensible) without putting it through the republican wringer — the deliberation, the checks and balances, all of it?

Obama, who has often said he will work around Congress, also justifies his executive bender by telling us that Americans are clamoring for more limits on gun ownership. So what? These rights — in what Piers Morgan might call that “little book” — were written down to protect the citizenry from not only executive overreach but also vagaries of public opinion. Didn’t Alexander Hamilton and James Madison warn us against the dangerous “passions” of the mob? It is amazing how many times this president uses majoritarian arguments to rationalize executive overreach.

And really, speaking of ginning up fear: “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” Obama said, deploying perhaps the biggest platitude in the history of nannyism. Not a single one of the items he intends to implement — legislative or executive — would have stopped Adam Lanza’s killing spree or, most likely, any of the others. Using fear and a tragedy to further ideological goals was by no means invented by Obama, but few people have used it with such skill.

Now, when the Supreme Court solidified the right to an abortion via Roe v. Wade (now a constitutional right, unlike owning a gun in Chicago) and solidified the individual mandate found in Obamacare (now a constitutional right, unlike, say, the right of Catholics to be free of economic coercion), they became immovable legal precedents that may never be toyed with — ever. Well, even if you believe in banning “assault” weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, doesn’t the Bill of Rights deserve at least that much deference?

David Harsanyi is a columnist and senior reporter at Human Events. Click here for more information, or click here to contact him, follow him on Twitter: @davidharsanyi, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

comments powered by Disqus

» on 01.19.13 @ 02:42 AM

Desperado pathetico.

» on 01.19.13 @ 03:23 AM

Tyrants prefer unarmed peasants - right John_Adams?

» on 01.19.13 @ 09:30 AM

Ahhh…I can hear the Presidential supporters building their responses, those keyclicks are so loud!  How dare one say something that makes others feel unsafe in their houses and schools once again, now that we have law the criminals will follow.

Of course, we still don’t see the “I Support my President—My Home is Gun Free” signs popping up in Santa Barbara neighborhoods.  Then again, his defenders nationwide aren’t doing this either—I wonder why?  Perhaps they realize that criminals don’t abide by these long-standing ‘safety measures’ in the President’s home state either.

Here’s a great video of east coast hypocrites:

Now, let’s see how our local hypocrites fawn over the artists at the Santa Barbara Film Festival as they overlook the acts of gun violence portrayed on the big screen.

» on 01.19.13 @ 12:13 PM

The gun industry prefers a fearful customer, right interloper?

» on 01.19.13 @ 02:34 PM

Fear, an unpleasant feeling of anxiety or apprehension caused by the presence or anticipation of danger, is what you anti gun zealots express Noleta. Interloper expresses vigilance, the condition of being watchful and alert, especially to danger.

» on 01.19.13 @ 05:52 PM

noleta please elaborate on the gun industry for us all.  I don’t normally associate guns with fear.  I associate them with responsibility, tradition, enjoyment, self reliance, and discipline.

» on 01.19.13 @ 07:15 PM

How funny some people are, and how dishonest. Fear is one of the major reasons for gun ownership. Few gun owners hunt.

If you want to have a really interesting experiment, put the signs up, but also put up signs that say the house contains guns, if it does.

The houses that advertize that they have guns will probably get burglarized much more frequently. Stolen guns are worth more than TVs or (most) jewelry.

» on 01.19.13 @ 09:44 PM


Decades ago I heard that fear was an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  I look at gun ownership as a responsibility, not unlike driving a car well, or anything else requiring skill and practice.  I see it as self assurance and reliance, the ability to take care of oneself.

Fear, in this context, perhaps better describes the anti-gun folks, who are unwilling to take care of themselves.  Instead, they would prefer to call 911 and demand that their safety needs be met.

Of course, this didn’t work for the woman who was assaulted last night in IV.  911 came _after_ the assault.  Perhaps if she was trained and legally carrying, the outcome would have been different.  If more of us were, assaults of this kind could very well decrease.

Fear?  No.  Self-reliance.  Something many would benefit from by practicing more often.

» on 01.21.13 @ 05:02 PM

Mr. Harsyani should read, then comment on, Mark Shields Noozhawk article, that notes that more Americans have died from domestic gun violence the last 50 years, than have died on the fields of battle, from the Revolutionary War, onward.

Twice as many, in fact.

More than all other advanced nations, combined, in every one of the last 50 years, and by a wide margin.

More, also, by immense proportions, than Switzerland and Israel, where every adult has a gun, but has also served in a “well regulated militia”, first, and where those with psychological problems are screened out when they report for basic

What imaginary “tyranny” is it that Harsanyi and his friends so fear, that NRA-
2nd amendment types now possess more firepower at home than America’s
armed forces possess at all their forts and training bases?

On any given day, we are much more at risk that someone with a gun will go
kill-crazy, and take down multiple civilian victims, than we are that some general
or elected official will go “Julius Caesar”, and try to stage a coup.

If the faces of twenty dead Newtown first graders, or four dead Webster firemen, cannot get Harsanyi to reconsider his primal fears, then perhaps this is a dialog or conversation he has become incapable of having.

» on 01.22.13 @ 03:02 AM

Publius,you stated “What imaginary “tyranny” is it that Harsanyi and his friends so fear, that NRA-
2nd amendment types now possess more firepower at home than America’s armed forces possess at all their forts and training bases?”
I think you need to order your aluminum foil hat in the next size up as it’s clearly cutting off the blood supply-or- if you truly believe that then you are exactly what a reasonable person would be concerned about!

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