The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is mobilizing for a massive four-front conflict with President Barack Obama over the Constitution and gun rights after a made-for-TV meeting today at the White House between Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, and a top NRA operative.
Obama appointed Biden—who throughout his career has opposed gun rights—to lead his gun-control task force after the horribly tragic Newtown shooting. Biden and Holder met Thursday with Jim Baker, director of the Federal Affairs Division of the NRA’s political arm, the Institute for Legislative Action. The meeting took place in the Old Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex adjacent to the West Wing.
It’s revealing that Obama and Biden brought Holder into the meeting. In 2008, when the Supreme Court decided the historic Second Amendment case D.C. v. Heller, Holder joined a brief arguing that the Court should uphold D.C.’s complete ban on gun ownership because the Second Amendment does not apply to private citizens. Holder’s position is that no American citizen has the right to own a gun, and the federal government can ban guns nationwide.
This casts doubt on Obama’s claim of being willing to find “common-sense solutions” and “middle ground” regarding firearms. Polls show 74% of Americans support their constitutional right to keep and bear arms, yet Obama taps two people from the other 26% to remake national policy on this issue.
According to sources familiar with the meeting, it seems NRA was asked to meet with Biden and Holder so that the White House could tell the country that the administration sought input from all sides of the gun-control debate before launching new gun-control measures. “It’s clear they brought NRA in to lecture us, not to have a serious discussion in good faith,” remarked one member of the NRA’s board of directors.
The NRA’s leaders are developing a multi-tiered strategy to combat threats on four fronts. First, anti-gun legislators in both the House and Senate are introducing gun-control bills. These are targeting so-called “assault weapons,” banning high-capacity magazines, shutting down gun shows, and seeking to create a national database of gun owners, complete with fingerprints.
Second is executive action without legislation, through executive orders and new agency regulations. NRA leaders are getting word of various possible routes where Obama will seek to act without any new laws, claiming that existing laws give him all the authority he wants. Given that Obama claims the power to make “recess appointments” when the U.S. Senate is not in recess (which the courts are likely to strike down) and the power to order churches who their leaders will be (a claim the Supreme Court unanimously rejected), many are concerned that he will likewise make a move against gun owners.
Third is foreign policy. Obama said he wants the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which is officially intended to stop the illicit trade of small arms but would do so by giving the world body—most of whose members do not allow their citizens to own guns—authority to regulate gun ownership over the entire planet and obligate the United States to follow its dictates.
And fourth is at the state level. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo—an Obama ally planning a 2016 presidential bid—went on an anti-gun rant during his State of the State Address, saying that confiscating guns is possible. Meanwhile, Obama’s home state of Illinois is planning new anti-gun measures, as is California’s plan to restrict bullets, rendering guns useless.
Americans are taking sides. NRA membership has skyrocketed by over 100,000 new members in less than a month, as the White House organizes all its allies to push gun control. The Second Amendment survived by only a single vote in the 2008 Heller case, then again survived in another 5-4 vote in the 2010 case McDonald v. Chicago. If Obama gets more Supreme Court picks, they could overrule these cases to effectively erase the Second Amendment from the Supreme Law of the Land.
So the Second Amendment is becoming a major political fight in Obama’s second term, the latest battle over government power versus individual liberty in what some are calling a power grab by an imperial president.
Ken Klukowski is the legal columnist for Breitbart News and discusses the Second Amendment and gun rights in The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency.