Constitution? What Constitution?

It’s a frequent claim made by those of us who support gun rights that advocates of gun control are antagonistic to more than just the Second Amendment in our Constitution.  But this assertion is typically met with accusations of paranoia and the slippery-slope fallacy.  Then along comes a gun control organization to offer evidence for exactly what we’ve warned about.

The National Gun Victims Action Council, a group founded by Eliot Fineman after his son was killed by a mentally ill shooter, has a petition going on to ask President Obama to declare a state of national emergency to deal with gun violence in America.  The NGVAC is the group whose slogan currently is “we’re done asking.”

Those of us who live in areas subject to interesting weather or geological upheaval are familiar with local states of emergency.  On the national level, a declaration of national emergency is meant to provide presidents with the authority to deal with moments of crisis, subject to review by Congress.  The current legislative authority given to presidents is the National Emergencies Act of 1976, a law passed to end previous declarations of emergencies and define the limits of the powers given to the executive branch in light of abuses during the periods of the Vietnam War and Watergate.  A declaration is to be reviewed every six months and automatically terminated after one year unless renewed.

And here lies one problem.  We are currently under thirty declarations of national emergency, covering everything from the Iran hostage crisis—yes, that was in 1979—to Colombian drug trafficking and the H1N1 swine flu.  These states of emergency do have a good purpose.  In the case of the swine flu, for example, the declaration allows hospitals to get around federal regulations covering treating people away from their facilities.  And if we experienced something akin to the flu epidemic of 1918, it might be necessary for sick people to be gathered in school gyms or other such places that can accommodate large numbers.

But the bottom line of these declarations is that they operate within the already defined powers of the executive branch.  A state of national emergency cannot suspend any part of the Constitution with the exception of the habeas corpus clause found in Article I, Section 9, and that is permitted only in times of rebellion or invasion.

Now consider what the NGVAC proposes.  They call for the following:

  1. The requirements and standards for people to be carrying guns outside their homes.

  2. That parents who own guns be held accountable as accomplices for gun violence their children cause with the parent’s guns.

  3.  That gun trafficking be made a felony to reduce the gun violence epidemic in the inner cities.

  4.  Appointing a commission to address this epidemic, such commission to exclude members of the gun lobbies, who profit from the epidemic they’ve caused and do everything they can to keep it going.  (emphasis in the original)

All of that is supposed to be among other things not specified.

In one sense, perhaps we can take comfort that the advocates of gun control are losing touch with the political realities in this country.  They have reached the point of desperation that they are demanding the president take an action guaranteed to cause sweeping losses for Democrats in the 2016 election—at the very least.  They want a declaration, despite Republican control of Congress and the Second Amendment that isn’t subject to being suspended.  They base this demand in part on the claim that forty percent of guns sold do not involve a background check being conducted, a claim that their own source called a half truth.  And they remind us that the first major crime a mass shooter typically commits is the shooting itself, leaving us as always to wonder how the proposals they call for would do anything other than burden people who follow the law.

It would be pleasant to believe that the NGVAC is simply a fringe group stamping their feet and insisting that we pay them attention.  At any rate, we need to call the bluff of people like this.  Remind them of just how much broad sections of America oppose their ideas and of the political costs in attempting to enact them.  The best way to stop a bad law is to prevent it from becoming law in the first place.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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