In his first weekly address of 2016, President Barack Obama has vowed to use “whatever power this office holds” to introduce tighter gun control in the United States.
Stepping aside from the issue of gun ownership and mass-shootings for a moment, the President’s statement is significant, not least because it concerns the tension between the United States’ Constitution and the President’s executive powers.
President Obama is not the first or only president to have bypassed Congress to introduce new laws through executive orders, however, he has shown he is willing to use executive powers in relation to significant and controversial issues; including providing amnesty to illegal immigrants, amending Obama Care, otherwise know as the ‘Affordable Care Act’, and now it appears, in relation to gun control.
The Constitution lays out the president’s powers only in broad terms, and there is nothing in it that can authorise an executive order or limit what it can do, other than what the Constitution already states.
There may always be temptation for presidential overreach when it comes to executive orders. And with overreach, there is the chance that unpopular executive orders will mobilise opposition, and ultimately overturn the order.
Whatever you believe about gun control, what the president chooses to do next could unleash a powder keg with massive legal and social repercussions.
For that reason, we have chosen it as XYZ’s Quote of the Day for Saturday 2 January, 2015.