Obama introduces executive orders that wouldn’t have stopped Sandy Hook

Barack Obama

Flanked by children during a press conference earlier today, President Barack Obama introduced a series of executive orders — completely bypassing Congress — that he says will reduce gun violence in the United States:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced what he called a “common sense measures” plan to reduce gun violence, including legislation for a universal background check and new bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

He also initiated 23 executive actions aimed at improving background checks, school security and mental health care, in an effort to go around Congress wherever possible.

“I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, joined by survivors of gun violence and several children who had written to him after the December shooting in Newtown, Conn. “If there’s even one thing that we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we have an obligation to try. And I’m going to do my part.”

President Obama also on Congress to pass other measures, including the assault weapons ban and limited magazines to 10 rounds. All of the measures — executive orders and the legislation that will be introduced in Congress — have been outlined in a document from the White House, which you can read here.

The press conference was for show. Trotting out kids for the announcement the way the White House did is pathetic. Of course, the message that they are trying to send is that if you oppose President Obama’s measures, you hate kids. This is what politicians who cannot win on substance do.

But in reality, as James Joyner explained over at Outside the Beltway, none of proposals that will be implemented by executive fiat or in this legislative package would have prevented last month’s tradegy at Sandy Hook:

The Sandy Hook killer had no criminal record prior to that horrible morning. And he didn’t buy his own guns and ammo, anyway; he used his mother’s. If his mother would have passed a criminal background check, he would have been able to access any guns she left unlocked in the house, anyway. And, if she had bought the guns and magazines before they were banned, he’d have had access to them.

For that matter, while the killer uses 30-round magazines, he reportedly used several of them. Which means he changed magazines repeatedly. While having to do that presumably makes a mass shooting ever-so-slightly more difficult, the fact of the matter is that it takes a fraction of a second to accomplish and that frightened, unarmed victims—especially if they’re 6 year-old children—are unlikely to have the instinct to take advantage of the interval.  Ditto the Glock and Sig Sauer pistols; the difference between the 15- and 20-round magazines with which they come standard and a 10-round magazine is largely academic.

So, the bottom line is that, while the Sandy Hook shooting was both the impetus for this push and may indeed fuel public sentiment in passing some perfectly sensible laws, the net result likely won’t be fewer Sandy Hooks.

There are two things about this that also need to be pointed out. First, as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) explained in a recent interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, enacting these 23 measures through executive fiat is above and beyond the role of the president. He is not supposed to create law. He is supposed to enforce it.

And lastly, many of the executive orders and proposals trotted out by the White House today the same warn-over measures that anti-gun advocates have been pushing for years. This is an assault on gun rights and it is also incrementalism. Once they get this, they’ll take the next step.

The nature of the Second Amendment — for purposes of self-defense and to secure a free state, which was noted by Erick Erickson in a excellent post this morning — scare the left. To them, the state is security and protection — you need nothing more.

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