By Chris W. Cox
NRA-ILA Executive Director
Who decides what laws must be obeyed? According to President Obama, it’s him.
In December, he told Congress that he doesn’t consider himself bound by federal laws that limit his ability to use tax dollars to promote gun control. The arrogant declaration came just two weeks after Americans learned of the documents proving that the Obama administration’s “Operation Fast and Furious” allowed guns to “walk” to Mexico so that their use in crime there could be used to justify gun control in the United States—further evidence of the administration’s utter lawlessness when it comes to Second Amendment issues.
The president issued his defiant statement as he signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, a massive $1 trillion government spending bill containing three NRA-backed provisions that Obama surely would have vetoed had they been sent to his desk separately.
One of the three provisions prohibits the use of federal funds for junk science “studies” by anti-gun researchers determined to portray gun ownership as a public health hazard. A second provision prohibits the use of federal funds by various organizations on the public dole to promote gun control restrictions such as trigger lock requirements, semi-automatic firearm bans and magazine-capacity limits. A third saves historic military arms from government crushers.
While Obama stated his intention to defy many of the constraints that the appropriations bill placed on taxpayer funds, he specifically addressed the limits that relate to guns, saying, “I have advised Congress that I will not construe these provisions as preventing me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibility to recommend to the Congress’s consideration such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient.” Of course, the Constitution vests all legislative power in the hands of Congress, and doesn’t allow the president to pick and choose what provisions of law to obey.
One of the provisions the president objects to prohibits the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from continuing to pay anti-gun researchers roughly a half million taxpayer dollars each year to conduct junk science “studies” designed to promote gun control. An NRA-backed law passed in 1996 prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from misspending federal money on similar projects. But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and anti-gun activists eventually figured out that they could funnel money to the same kind of researchers via the NIH.
In one instance, the NIH wasted $2.6 million on research trying to determine why teenagers who possess firearms illegally, engage in underage drinking, and associate with other teens who do the same, are more likely to be involved in firearm-related violence. In another example, the agency squandered $36,000 on anti-gun researchers trying to prove that children’s safety and well-being depend on their living in homes without firearms.
For now, at least—and despite Obama’s displeasure—the new law will plug yet another hole in the dam holding back anti-gun propaganda. The NRA will watch carefully to see how anti-gun activists working in these agencies respond to the latest thwarting of their agenda.
The second firearm-related provision in the appropriations bill that drew the president’s ire prohibits the use of federal funds to lobby for gun control—a common practice among federally funded “community action” groups. That would surely come as no surprise to former “community organizer” Obama.
The third NRA-backed provision in the bill didn’t bring a comment from Obama, but it was an important victory for gun owners just the same. It prevents the destruction of M1 rifles and carbines, and other military firearms that are no longer in service, so that they can be available for sale to shooters and collectors. Unfortunately, protecting surplus firearms from the government bureaucrats who would prefer to scrap them—without regard for gun owners’ interests or for the funds these sales generate for the federal treasury—has become an annual exercise. But for at least another year those historic, highly valued firearms will be preserved for sale to the Americans whose parents’ and grandparents’ tax dollars bought them in the first place—and whose parents and grandparents carried them in defense of our nation’s freedom.
With the 2012 presidential election campaign now underway, Obama clearly remembers the failed candidacies of Al Gore and John Kerry in 2000 and 2004, and tries not to draw unnecessary attention to his heartfelt support for gun control. As he reportedly told activist Sarah Brady, he prefers to operate “under the radar.” Yet he and the members of his administration often let their guard down, apparently unable to help themselves from revealing what gun owners can expect in a second term when Obama will never again need to face voters.
Fair enough. In return, the president can expect gun owners to vote to replace him on Election Day. Obama, more than anyone else, should understand what it means when the voters want “change.”
James W. Porter II, PRESIDENT
Allan Cors, FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
Pete Brownell, SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
Wayne LaPierre, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
Edward J. Land Jr., SECRETARY
Wilson H. Phillips Jr., TREASURER
Kyle Weaver, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GENERAL OPERATIONS
Christopher W. Cox, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE FOR LEGISLATIVE ACTION