Pro-gun groups weren’t exaggerating during the election last year when they warned President Obama intended to go after guns in a second term. With his second inaugural less than a week away, Mr. Obama is already so determined to put sweeping new restrictions in place that he threatened Monday to resort to executive action to bypass Congress and the will of the American people.
In an East Room press conference, Mr. Obama said he will vigorously pursue the proposals on gun violence that the task force run by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will give him Tuesday. “I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as president,” he told reporters. “Where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence, then I want to go ahead and take it.” He was vague about what he would do with his presidential powers, only mentioning tracking better how criminals get guns.
Mr. Obama openly said the White House proposals will include items on “keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn’t have them and an assault weapons ban that is meaningful.” He also claimed the record spike in the sales of guns and ammunition was unrelated to his policies, instead resulting from groups “ginning up fear” that “the federal government is about to take all your guns away.”
New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg explained the executive actions he has been pushing. “There are other steps that President Obama can take without congressional approval at any time he chooses, with the stroke of a pen,” said Mr. Bloomberg at The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on Monday. “Vice President Biden understands this, and we hope his recommendations will include at least these four steps that we’ve urged him to do.”
The billionaire mayor urged the president to recess-appoint a new crony — presumably an anti-gun zealot — to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He also wants the Justice Department to prioritize prosecutions of anyone who provides false information in a background check, noting that “our federal government is prosecuting less than one-tenth of 1 percent of them.”
Joining Mr. Bloomberg at the hastily-organized event in Baltimore, Gov. Martin O’Malley jumped on the bandwagon and announced his own plan to tighten Maryland’s already restrictive gun laws. The Democratic state executive outlined the legislative package he will unveil this week, which will include bans on so-called high-capacity magazines and assault rifles — even though only two of the 390 murders in the Free State in 2011 can be traced to any rifles. His most radical plan would require a license and fingerprinting for all handgun purchases.
Anti-gun politicians have been preparing this assault on the Second Amendment for years. They were just waiting, cynically, for the right tragedy to strike. Gun owners intend to stand up for themselves with a “Gun Appreciation Day” this weekend and a march on state capitals. They’ll need to turn out in big numbers if they hope to thwart this well-organized attack.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.