It a moment of unintentional satire Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden assured the attendees (and reporters) at his gun control meeting that this was not just a photo op even as TV viewers could clearly hear the cameras clicking away. Biden promised that the administration was looking at a broad package of gun control measures in the wake of the Newtown child massacre, "The president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet, but we're compiling it all ... as well as legislative action, we believe, is required." That executive action has the National Rifle Association and especially the Drudge Report freaking out. Relax guys: President Obama can't do that much on guns with an executive order. If he wants a big change in gun laws, he still has to go through Congress.
Perhaps the threat of executive order resonates because Obama has used it to stop deporting young illegal immigrants and to stop fighting for the Defense of Marriage Act in court. But stopping enforcement of a law Congress has passed is very different from starting the enforcement of a law that Congress hasn't passed. Here are some major things Obama would need Congress to get done:
- Ban assault weapons.
- Close the loophole that allows 40 percent of guns to be sold without background checks at gun shows. The White House is trying to get Wal-Mart to support the proposal to push it through Congress, The Washington Post reports.
- Allow the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and later the National Institutes of Health to even research guns. The Tiahrt amendments block funding for collecting gun crime data and researching the weapons' impact on society, something Mayors Against Illegal Guns will be fighting to change, Politico reports.
- Get pro-gun control judges confirmed to the federal bench.The National Rifle Association has a program to block Obama's "judicial nominees whom it sees as likely to enforce gun-control laws," the Associated Press reports. Anti-gun control senators have successfully kept some seats unfilled.