Yesterday President Obama unveiled a series of executive actions designed to address gun safety. In general, I can’t quibble that much with respect to what he has proposed to do, which includes:
- Requiring background checks at gun shows and over the Internet, where they aren’t currently required.
- Directing federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of gun laws.
- Funding 200 new ATF agents and investigators (subject to approval by Congress).
- Increase mental health reporting to the background check system, using the rule-making power of the Social Security System and the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Invest $500 million to increase unspecified access to mental health care.
- Directing the Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.
How effective will any of this be? That’s anybody’s guess. Just like with the immigration issue, it’s clear that the President has run out of patience with the do-nothing Congress.
Of course, his immigration reforms haven’t taken effect because they are the subject of court litigation. These new actions are likely to be as well.
My concern is mostly that the President is trying to do so much through executive action. That’s all fine and good now, but it’s setting a bad precedent with respect to future Presidents, some of whom are inevitably going to be Republicans.
I know subsequent administrations can undo the executive action of previous administrations, and Lord knows this amateur-filled do-nothing Congress could drive anybody crazy, but it’s still setting a bad precedent. I don’t like it.
Jurgen, it’s not setting any precedent at all. Obama has still issued fewer executive orders than either of the Bushes, Clinton, Reagan, or in fact any president since Grover Cleveland. http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/every-presidents-executive-actions-in-one-chart/
Thanks Brian, I stand corrected. It looks like Franklin Roosevelt went a little bit wild with his executive orders, from what I see.
How you guys getting on with the principle of the separation of powers? In the UK we have the opposite problem, an elected dictatorship. I reckon they should try out this democracy business …
Really, Dave? Since our last general election there have been a number of issues where the Government has been unable to “dictate” – the most spectacular being the reform of tax credits.
Think that was because the House of Lords went against precedent and threw it out. A Commons majority usually gives the executive carte blanche, which is why I’m a fan of proportional representation. Reflecting popular opinion is hard work. As Churchill said, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others’.