AP Photo/Elise Amendola
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is one of many Democrats vying for the opportunity to take on President Trump in the general election. Unlike Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), she has a viable chance.
To find out that a California Democrat is anti-gun isn’t shocking. After all, the words “California” and “Democrat” can both set one’s mind to gun control all on their own.
What may be shocking is when that California Democrat says she’s willing to act unilaterally on gun control if Congress doesn’t act quickly enough for her liking.
Senator Kamala Harris said she planned to take gun control into her own hands if elected president, promising a slate of executive actions in a CNN town hall Monday night if Congress does not “get their act together” in a 100-day period to “pass reasonable gun safety laws.”
Harris’s plan, which she said would be one of her first acts as president if Congress doesn’t act, works to effectively go around Congress, using executive power to make strides on gun control in places where previous administrations have stalled.
Harris said she would mandate universal background checks on anyone selling more than five guns a year, ending a loophole that allows private gun sellers to bypass background checks on 1 in 5 gun sales nationwide, bar people classified as fugitives from buying guns. She would also, her campaign said, close a loophole in federal law that allows perpetrators of domestic violence to keep their guns if they are not married to their partner.
Harris’s plan, framed specifically around circumventing Congress through executive power, is a sign of an electorate that is weary of congressional inaction. Both President Donald Trump and former president Barack Obama turned increasingly to executive action to accomplish some of their signature policy proposals.
Of course, Harris fails to understand that she doesn’t have the power to require universal background checks from anyone. Even former President Obama didn’t create universal background checks with the stroke of his pen, though he probably wanted to.
Executive orders are, from a legal standpoint, little more than orders on how laws are implemented and enforced. It’s possible for one to have massive ramifications because they can drastically change how a law is enforced, or if it’s enforced at all, but they don’t change the law.
What Harris is saying is, if Congress doesn’t capitulate to her demands, she’ll dictate law from the Oval Office.
What do you call someone who dictates law? That’s right — a dictator.
Harris is warning the American people that she’ll create laws out of whole cloth and the rest of us will be forced to live under them. Congress will no longer be responsible for the law, and she’ll have supreme power.
That’s not me blowing this out of proportion, either. That’s what Harris is saying.
What she’s not saying is that if she gets away with this kind of thing, should she be elected, what would be next? New tax increases by fiat? A repeal of ICE with a stroke of her pen? Anything could be on the table.
Even if she has no interest in becoming a tyrant, at least by her definition, what she doesn’t understand is that once she lets that genie out of the bottle, there’s little chance of it going back in. If the president can start creating laws all on their own, what stops the next president from deciding all members of certain religious groups must wear a certain symbol on their clothing? What’s to stop the next president from deciding that his political opponents should be rounded up and thrown into gulags?
When it comes to power, elected officials need to remember that they won’t be in power forever, and they should be very careful about what precedence they mag set, because the next guy may well have very different priorities.