President Obama is over in Paris trying to save the world from climate change, but he pressed pause on that mission briefly on Tuesday to return to the only topic that gets his juices flowing more than melting icebergs: the subject of gun control.
At a press conference on December 1, the president was asked about the tragic shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Naturally, Obama found an opportunity to bring up his favorite policy.
“In the United States,” he said, “we have the power to do more to prevent what is just a regular process of gun homicides, that is unequaled by multiples of five, six, ten, and I think the American people understand that. So my hope is that, once again, this spurs a conversation and action.”
Obama went on to promise that he will continue to focus on “what I can do administratively” in the wake of the latest mass shooting. This has been his story since the Umpqua Community College shooting in October. At that time, he said that he was looking at what “actions we can take that might prevent even a handful of these tragic deaths from taking place.”
Often proposed among those actions are tighter restrictions on who exactly qualifies as a gun dealer. Obama wants to make it harder for small-time gun salesmen to fly under the radar, closing what gun-control proponents say is a major loophole in the background check laws.
Of course, there’s nothing to suggest that any background check would have prevented Robert Dear from carrying out his violent assault last Friday. That, apparently, isn’t worth discussing though.
So maybe it would be more interesting to discuss the limits of the president’s executive actions. The law allows for these actions insofar that they can facilitate the smooth governance of the United States. But part of that is making sure that there is support in the Constitution for whichever actions the president cares to take. It would be difficult to imagine how Obama could find constitutional support for any actions that thwart the Second Amendment.
Then again, the Constitution has proven to be awfully pliable this year.
In the days after the Colorado Springs shooting, NPR interviewed a local named Tim Faraci. Faraci was angry that Obama chose to start harping on gun control before any of the facts were in.
“I’ll tell you what I think,” he said. “The most ignorant thing that came about the whole thing was that one of our police officers died, and then the president has to come out and make a stance on his gun control. I thought it was ridiculous. He had no consideration. It was ignorant.”
Oh no, not ignorant, Mr. Faraci. This president knows exactly what he’s doing. He has secured himself a legacy of utter failure in the Middle East, a legacy of healthcare that will be wiped away at the earliest opportunity, and a legacy of racial division that will not soon heal. He wants to do something memorable before he leaves office, and he will use any excuse he can find to make a major move against guns.
We need to be focused on the 2016 elections, yes. But this president isn’t done yet. We need to watch him more closely than ever for the next year. He’s got nothing to lose.
God help us.