AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has taken a bold stance on gun control. It’s so bold that if she were to pull all the stuff she’s saying she would if elected, it would likely spark a civil war.
However, many of the presidential candidates are also making their stands on gun control. Rep. Eric “Nuke ’em All” Swalwell (D-CA) has made it the corner of his campaign. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has made it a key point of his as well.
The problem is, the president has limited authority over guns in the United States. As the Sacramento Bee essentially points out, all of the anti-gun rhetoric is little more than tough talk.
California Sen. Kamala Harris and other Democrats running for president have promised aggressive action to stem the nation’s epidemic of gun violence if they win the White House in 2020.
But when it comes to restricting gun access, experts say executive action is unlikely to make a significant dent in the problem, and any steps the president takes unilaterally are likely to be embroiled in legal challenges.
The reality is it’s Congress — not the president — that holds most of the power on gun policy.
The executive branch has “limited discretion” on guns, University of California, Los Angeles Law Professor Adam Winkler told McClatchy.
Former Democratic President Barack Obama “looked at all these things and had a list of 20 executive actions. Even with 20 executive actions, it didn’t add up to much,” said Winkler, an expert in constitutional law. “The real takeaway of these campaign promises is how gun control has surged … as a way to energize Democratic voters.”
However, it also serves as a warning to pro-gun voters in both parties. It tells all of us how little these candidates value our civil liberties, especially with regard to the Second Amendment.
They would rather empower criminals and tyrants than acknowledge that the right to keep and bear arms is a civil liberty that deserves to be protected. Then again, in this day and age, we see plenty of people attack every other civil liberty we enjoy in this nation.
The saving grace is that no president has the power to do the kinds of things Harris has claimed she would do by executive action. If she did, it would spark a civil war, and not everyone lashing out at a President Harris would be pro-gun advocates. The idea of a president trying to dictate anything like this should well be terrifying for anyone, even those who oppose the Second Amendment.
Not that there will be that many of them, I’m afraid.
The media has done an excellent job of framing the Second Amendment debate as, “Something must be done,” rather than whether or not there are solutions out there. As such, many people will be thrilled to see someone doing something, regardless of the legality of that action. It’s hardly new, after all. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has supporters despite his push for a gun control measure in his city despite state preemption laws.
For the anti-gunner, laws are trifling things that are obstacles to be sidestepped, not legal matters that need to be considered.
Harris, of all the candidates for the Democratic nomination, is the one who is most obvious in her lack of respect for how laws are passed in this country. While I suspect all of the candidates would love to create the laws they want and make them happen, they understand that it’s not how the system works. They have to at least give lip service to checks and balances.
There’s little the president can do legally.
Anything they do illegally, however, proves that criminals will do what they want regardless of the laws against them — sort of like bad guys with guns.