Heckle: Gun-control actions should never have reached executive order

Michael Heckle

President Obama recently pulled the trigger on his executive order to reduce gun violence in America, and a tidal wave of misinformation has spread across the nation as the right and the left take their usual sides on this issue.

With slogans from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz proudly fear-mongering the loss of the Second Amendment, they seem to have no understanding of the legal actions taken by the president. The left is not free from blame either. With Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley all supporting the actions taken by the president, they seem to pass over the greatest threat to the Constitution — executive order.

In order to understand this issue clearly, one must be aware of the actual changes made by Obama’s new order. First, it will require any business that participates in the sale of fire arms to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks. This specific excerpt of the order attempts to end the so-called “gun show loophole” as it considers any person involved in selling firearms, no matter how frequently, a business.

In the same vein, the order will require the FBI to conduct a restructuring of the background check system in an attempt to increase efficiency by increasing staff by 50 percent and allowing background checks to be processed 24/7. The order will also help to encourage greater communication between different departments at a federal level and provides $500 million in investments toward mental health care.

Nothing in the proposal itself screams tyrannical gun control, despite what Ted Cruz would like you to believe. In fact, a focus on mental health and improving the laws we already have has been a strategy proposed by many Republicans. The closest the proposal comes to any form of true gun control is a clause that requires background checks for more “dangerous” fire arms — though one can easily make the argument that no firearm is intrinsically more dangerous than another. The dangers of tyranny lie in executive action itself.

By allowing the president to override the legislative branch, we lose the fundamental structure of government that this country is founded upon. But Obama is not the worst perpetrator of executive orders. Presidents such as Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt broke into the thousands of executive orders during their terms as president. Obama currently sits at a measly 219 per a count conducted in 2015. His predecessor, George W. Bush, clocks in at 291, and Bill Clinton boasted 364.

Executive actions are subject to criticism and revocation by the Supreme Court, allowing them some form of bastardized democracy. But when the president goes above the head of the American people, one can easily see a slippery slope developing, despite how fallacious such an argument is. However, the transparency of executive orders provides some sort of safeguard against tyranny, in whatever little form it may occur.

The real tragedy in this situation is the failure of Congress to work with the president, especially on something as logically sound as background checks. I will refrain from entering the topic of the effectiveness of background checks, as I have already written a column on that topic, but it seems like a no-brainer to argue that certain people should not be allowed to own firearms.

It’s a logical assumption to conclude that these people do not fall into the category of “well-armed militia,” which the Second Amendment describes. It’s mind-boggling that right would fight Obama on solutions that have been proposed in the past, including solutions to our failed mental health system. I still sympathize with the attitude of spite felt toward executive orders, however, if we choose to criticize one president on such a topic, it is only fair that we criticize the rest.