Gun Laws & Legislation

NRA President James Porter: Abuse of Power

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By James W. Porter II, NRA President

“The problem with what the president [Barack Obama] is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he is becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid: that is, the concentration of power in any single branch.”Prof. Jonathon Turley, Georgetown University Law School

That remarkable assessment was given before the House Judiciary Committee last December. The subject of the hearing: “The President’s Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws.”

Turley provided an alarming benchmark on usurpation of power as Obama moves swiftly on his 2008 threat “to fundamentally transform the United States of America.”

Indeed, Obama is transforming the very constitutional structure of our government—a structure of checks and balances among the three branches of government that has given our nation its remarkable stability as a true Democratic Republic.

When the Founders created the United States Constitution, they struck a remarkable historic balance between three distinct branches of government. With the concept of separation of powers—succinctly enumerated in the first three articles—the responsibilities of the three branches of our government were spelled out: the national legislature, the executive branch under the elected president and the courts. They are separate but equal, with each acting as a check on possible abuse of power by the others.

Article I provides that Congress, with political accountability to the people, enacts laws binding on the people and on government. Congress is also exclusively charged with authorizing spending and providing funds for the running of the government as a whole.

Article II allocates to the executive the power to carry out the laws enacted by Congress, and to spend funds only as authorized and appropriated by Congress for specific purposes in the law. The article requires that the president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

Article III establishes the federal courts with the power to interpret the laws and assure that they adhere to the principles and safeguards of the Constitution.

For much of our nation’s history, this balance has been maintained.

Yet, with the emergence of Barack Obama and his Senate allies willing to cede power to the executive, that critical balance is changing radically.

Whether you look at the daily changes in the rollout of the president’s signature healthcare law, or his use of the Internal Revenue Service to intimidate and close down avenues of free speech for his political opponents, or the massive illegal digital spying on virtually every American by the National Security Agency or his spending of appropriated funds for programs never authorized by Congress, Obama has overturned those constitutional principles.

Whatever position you might take personally on any of these issues, the big gorilla in the room is Obama’s lawless approach to governing.

Obama rules through an unchecked bureaucracy—which Prof. Turley refers to as “this rising fourth branch. … ”

“The center of gravity is shifting,” he told Congress, “and that makes it unstable. And within that system you have the rise of an uber-presidency … There could be no greater danger for individual liberty, and I really think that the framers would be horrified by that shift. … ”

Turley said that the remedy—the brake on the imperial presidency—lies with the courts.

With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid forcing change in filibuster rules, Obama can now pack the courts with jurists who rubber-stamp his corruption of power. Then the wondrous stability of our nation could end.

Specifically on Second Amendment issues, gun owners have become victims of Obama’s abuse of power. In contravention of absolute congressional spending bans, Obama has ordered the Centers for Disease Control, in effect, to create a massive gun-ban propaganda and lobbying agenda to treat gun ownership as a public health menace.

Obama has—by executive action—created gun owner registration in five border states by requiring sales that include multiple semi-automatic long guns to be reported and kept in a permanent database.

With all of this, there is clear remedy and that is at the ballot box. The one uniting issue for Americans should be, and must be, to stop Obama’s theft and abuse of power. We must elect a Congress that will respect the Constitution and the separation of powers to halt and reverse what Prof. Turley rightly calls “the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid.”


James W. Porter II is the President of the National Rifle Association. His column appears in American Rifleman and American Hunter.  Join the NRA and receive a $10 discount on your annual membership and get America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman or American Hunter delivered to your door – click here.