by Max Brantley
States may need to take the federal government to court to prevent their citizens’ Second Amendment rights from being infringed upon by President Barack Obama’s executive orders on gun control, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Thursday.
“No constitutional right can be infringed upon by an executive order, so I think that the attorneys general of the nation, including me, will be very protective to ensure that the federal executive branch doesn’t overstep,” McDaniel told the Arkansas News Bureau.
Obama on Wednesday said he wants Congress to ban assault weapons, limit ammunition clips to 10 rounds or less and broaden background checks for gun purchases, and he said he would take a number of actions by executive order, including measures aimed at strengthening the federal background-check system.
This is the Tom Cotton approach. Anything about guns, particularly from Barack Obama, is unconstitutional. By way of injecting some facts into this shrill gun demagoguery, here's the list of executive actions the president has proposed (assault weapons, large magazines and background checks all would be matters of law and clearly measures allowable under the permissive Supreme Court view of the 2nd Amendment). Recordkeeping, mental health, incentives for school guards. Are these executive actions the affronts to the Constitution McDaniel and Cotton see?
I've sought some specifics from Cotton on his legal objections to what Obama has proposed — as opposed to the Just-Say-No-to-Barack attitude of your average gun nut. This is his only response so far, from his chief of staff, and you can readily see it is overheated rhetoric devoid of specifics:
“The mass murder at Sandy Hook was a horrific tragedy that warrants responsible steps to deter such killings in the future, which include reforming mental-health practices and removing obstacles to the defensive use of firearms by law-abiding citizens. Unfortunately, not a single thing proposed by the president today would have saved a single child's life at Sandy Hook. Instead, the president would curtail law-abiding citizens' constitutional rights with extreme gun-control measures that have proven time and again not to reduce crime in general or mass murder in particular. Further, the president again is flaunting his disregard for our Constitution in bypassing open debate among the people's representatives in Congress. Joining what will be a bipartisan majority of both the House and Senate, I will oppose the president's unconstitutional policies and actions and staunchly support our Second Amendment rights.”- Rep Tom Cotton
But back to the craven McDaniel, his gubernatorial campaign in tatters worse than a target at a 50-caliber machine gun range.
He's a former cop, avid hunter and long a professed gun nut, in part by way of political compensation for his father's role as a plaintiffs' lawyer against gun manufacturers in a suit arising from the Westside school slaughter. Still, he was, is and is always going to be suspect to the nuts, if for no other reason than the fact he's a Democrat. He's been truly valiant in defending President Obama's health care expansion in a state deeply antagonistic to the black man in the White House (We had a sharp example of the president's low state here: a Republican senator, Missy Irvin bragged this week to the entire wired universe about — and even shared a photo of the letter of — her son's gun defense. In it, he addressed the president of the United States by his first name, like yard boys were addressed in the bad old days).
You can stand up to the NRA, despite the prevalent Arkansas conventional political wisdom of guns uber alles. Bill Clinton proved that. National surveys show the NRA at its lowest state in years. People may not favor gun confiscation, but they are more open than ever to sensible gun safety measures. A majority favor stronger gun control laws. A universal background check, for example, makes perfect sense, else why have any background checks at all?
McDaniel could lead by talking specifically about things that could and should be done. If he must, he could declare forthrightly those that he opposes. Does he really oppose universal background checks or a limitation on high-capacity ammunition magazines? Say so. The same for the Arkansas congressional delegation. Call the roll on these specific ideas.
Empty talk of lawsuits, empty rhetoric and pandering to extremists are not the way for McDaniel to rehabilitate a mortally wounded gubernatorial campaign.
That smell coming from the McDaniel campaign is, I think, toast.