- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The future of President Obama’s gun control actions depends entirely on whether another Democrat succeeds him in the White House.

Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement that he’d use executive power to restrict gun purchases, virtually all of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates unloaded on the plan and vowed to repeal the orders if elected president.

The GOP White House hopefuls also accused Mr. Obama of completely disregarding the Second Amendment, while others seemed to mock the president.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, for example, tweeted #ComeAndTakeIt within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement that he would use executive power to impose new restrictions on firearms sales.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky promised to fight the executive orders “tooth and nail.” Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the moves “trample on the Second Amendment,” while Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida quickly released a new campaign ad that says Mr. Obama’s plan is to “take away our guns.”

Other Republican candidates lobbed similarly harsh criticism. Party front-runner Donald Trump warned Americans Monday that, if the president gets his way, “pretty soon you won’t be able to get guns.”


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By contrast, the three Democrats seeking the White House this year — Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley — each praised the action.

“Thank you, @POTUS, for taking a crucial step forward on gun violence. Our next president has to build on that progress — not rip it away,” Mrs. Clinton tweeted Tuesday.

Mr. O’Malley echoed that position, saying he would take “further executive actions to reform our gun laws” if elected.

The only subtle difference on the Democratic side came from Mr. Sanders, who in the past has urged his fellow Democrats to recognize the cultural role firearms play in rural America.

Mr. Sanders said he supports Mr. Obama’s actions, but promised only to continue those actions if elected, not take new steps.

“As president, I will continue these executive orders because it’s past time to end the moral outrage of Aurora, and Newtown and Charleston,” he said, ticking off three of worst mass shootings in recent years.

Mr. Obama’s executive actions — the result of repeated failed attempts to prod Congress to expand background checks and take other gun control measures — are limited in scope but still drew the ire of Republicans and gun rights activists.

The steps include a crackdown on gun dealers who bill themselves as “collectors” or “personal sellers” but are actually engaged in the business of firearms sales, including transactions online. The federal government now will require more of these dealers to obtain federal licenses, necessitating background checks on their sales.

Mr. Obama’s action also incorporates a move by the Social Security Administration to include information in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System about beneficiaries who are deemed incapable of handling their own finances, and are prohibited from owning firearms.

In defending his moves, the president made the case that, as a former constitutional law professor, he understands and respects the Second Amendment.

But Republican presidential candidates didn’t buy that explanation and cast the president as an extremist on the issue.

“His plan after the attack in San Bernardino: take away our guns,” Mr. Rubio says in his latest campaign ad.

Even before the president made his announcement, Mr. Bush took to the pages of the Cedar Rapids Gazette to express his disgust and also tie Mrs. Clinton to the notion of gun control.

“Liberals like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seize on every opportunity to advance a gun-grabbing agenda,” Mr. Bush said.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cast the executive orders as a “blatant, belligerent abuse of power.”

“I will never apologize for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. And I will never bow down and surrender to Obama’s unconstitutional, radical, anti-gun agenda,” he said in a statement.

Dave Boyer and David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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