The gloves are officially off in the gun control fight in Washington. After Vice President Biden reiterated the White House intention to use executive power to reduce gun violence following the Newtown shooting, a Republican congressman warned on Wednesday the idea sounded like “dictatorship” to him.
It’s a handy reminder that all the gun control talk following Newtown could run into smack into the same kind of congressional opposition that’s scuttled many big legislative projects since the Republican takeover of the House in 2010. It’s also another sign that the tough rhetoric is back on guns after the Newtown lull.
“The Founding Fathers never envisioned Executive Orders being used to restrict our Constitutional rights,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said in a statement Wednesday. “We live in a republic, not a dictatorship.”
Duncan is on the conservative end of the House Republican caucus. He was among those few who opposed the most recent version Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) House budget package because it didn’t cut spending deep enough. He’s also made it clear where he stands on gun laws. In his Wednesday statement, he rejected the call for gun control in Congress outright.
“I will use every means at my disposal to combat the agenda of the Executive branch to undermine our Second Amendment rights. I will also fight any legislative action that is taken to implement more gun control,” he said. “Americans don’t want their Second Amendment freedoms restricted in any way and I will continue to fully support the right to bear arms for all law abiding citizens.”
He’s not the only one amping up the rhetoric on gun control. The National Rifle Association kicked off a return to tough talk on gun control with a press conference a week after the Newtown shooting. But Biden’s confirmation on Wednesday that executive action was on the table pushed things into a new dimension, bringing with it the expected comparisons between President Obama and Adolf Hitler.
But Biden also told reporters that White House officials “haven’t decided what that is yet” in terms of using executive orders. Slate’s Dave Weigel reported that options currently under discussion don’t affect “the guns and ammo currently for sale in the United States.”
But the hint that the White House might act on its own on guns was enough to fire up Duncan as well as others in the gun rights community.
“The President should not be able to act unilaterally when it comes to our Constitutional rights,” he said. “Executive Orders were meant as a way for the president to implement legislatively passed laws, not to make law.”