Saturday, January 9, 2016

GateHouse: Executive orders are Obama’s weapon in national gun battle

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
January 8, 2016
President Barack Obama is a gun dealer’s best friend. You wouldn’t know by all the theatrics following his pronouncement this week regarding his gun-related executive orders.
According to Bloomberg News, handgun manufacturers report that revenue for the quarter ending Jan. 31 may be as high as $180 million, a 16-percent increase from its December forecast.
Gun sales surged after a terrorist shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 people dead.
Smith & Wesson’s corporate stock rose to its highest value ever after President Obama outlined his intentions with regard to gun sales. On Black Friday, the day of the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooting, the FBI background checks for gun customers set a single day record of 185,000, which was 10,000 more than last year.
Twice in the last five years the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of individuals to possess firearms for self-defense and any other lawful purpose. There is no question that the Second Amendment is as strong as ever.
So, why is President Obama acting unilaterally with regard to gun ownership? According to the USA Today, here is what the president intends to do:
-Clarifying that people selling guns over the Internet and at gun shows can still be required to conduct background checks on buyers if they are “engaged in the business” of selling guns.
-Ask Congress to provide an additional $500 million to increase access to mental health care.
In addition to expanding background checks, President Obama said he will provide more funding for the FBI and ATF to conduct those background checks.
President Obama is using his constitutional executive authority to carry out his gun-related agenda.  Executive orders are legally binding orders issued by the president. They do not require congressional approval to take effect, but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress.
The president’s source of authority to issue executive orders can be found in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, which grants to the president the “executive power.” Section 3 further directs the president to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Executive orders have been around since the first president.  Over time, literally thousands and thousands of executive orders have been issued. According to Professor Jeffrey C. Fox of Brigham Young University, the most notable uses of executive orders include, President Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War; President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s order establishing internment camps during World War II; and President Truman’s order banning discrimination among members of the armed forces.
Presidents acting by executive order have also been challenged in court. In 1952, in the Youngstown Sheet & Tube case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that President Truman had exceeded his authority by directing the seizure of steel mills to avert a strike during the Korean War.
According to Reuters, at least one group, Freedom Watch, has vowed to file suit and seek to stop the implementation of President Obama’s executive orders. The group believes that Obama “lacks the authority to change the legal definition of who must obtain a dealer’s license.”
Gun rights groups are also expected to file suits to stop Obama’s actions on the grounds that he lacks authority due to congressional action previously taken with regard to gun control.
President Obama’s executive orders may be short-lived even without court intervention. Executive orders remain in effect until abandoned or rescinded by the issuing president or by a successor president. Just as President Clinton did when he rescinded President Reagan’s executive order removing all federal funding for abortions.
As the wrangling continues, now may be the time to buy some Smith & Wesson stock.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book, “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010,” was recently released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

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