Gun Laws & Legislation

White House petition asks Obama to shun gun-control executive orders

David Martosko Executive Editor
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A petition launched Wednesday on the White House’s “We the People” Web page may put new pressure on President Barack Obama as his administration considers using executive orders to institute nationwide gun-control measures.

Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that executive orders — decrees from the White House that neither require nor invite the approval of Congress — will play a role in the administration’s response to the Dec. 14 massacre that left 20 children dead at a Connecticut elementary school.

“The president is going to act,” Biden said, seated next to Attorney General Eric Holder, before meeting with victims of gun violence and gun-safety groups Wednesday. Groups represented included Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Arizona for Gun Safety and the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus.

Biden referred to an “executive order, executive action that can be taken,” before noting that “we haven’t decided what that is yet.”

“But we’re compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action we believe is required.”

But the petition, launched by a Claremore, Oklahoma man, asks Obama to “[p]ledge not to use an Executive Order to restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding Citizens.”

“The Second Amendment provides protection for every other Amendment in the Bill of Rights, as well as citizen rights outlined in the Constitution,” the petition reads.

“The intent and limitations of the Second Amendment have been addressed by the United States Supreme Court case of the District of Columbia versus Heller in 2007. The Supreme Court acknowledged that the Second Amendment protects weapons ‘typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.'”

“Guns commonly used for hunting, target shooting, self defense, and protection from a tyrannical government are exempted from any further restrictions already in place,” the petition’s author added.

“The president and I are determined to take action,” Biden said during a photo-op before the meeting Wednesday. “This is not an exercise in photo opportunities.”

Biden said gun control is a “moral issue.”

“It’s critically important that we act,” he said. “As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.”

Biden has promised to meet with gun owners and representatives from the National Rifle Association before the administration outlines its planned course of action. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

The president named Biden on Dec. 19 to lead a task force that would make broad recommendations on new gun control policy for the federal government to pursue and implement in reaction to the Connecticut shooting.

If Wednesday’s petition attracts 25,000 signatures by Feb. 8, it will trigger a White House staff review and a promised response from the Obama administration.


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