Former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese, now a prominent emeritus official at the Heritage Foundation, became the latest conservative to warn that President Obama could risk impeachment if he takes executive action on reducing gun violence in an interview Monday night.
Speaking with Newsmax, Meese said Congress may have to consider impeaching Obama if he were “to try to override the Second Amendment in any way” with an executive order. He did allow that there are some executive actions related to guns that Obama could take wouldn’t be impeachable.
“It would be up to the Congress to take action, such as looking in to it to see if, in fact, he has really tried to override the Constitution itself,” Meese told Newsmax. “In which case, it would be up to them to determine what action they should take — and perhaps even to the point of impeachment.”
He said that there are certain executive actions the White House can take without fear of impeachment.
“An executive order without specific congressional authority can only apply to those portions of the government that are under his control — in their words, the executive branch,” Meese said. “Now there are some things he can probably do in regard to the actions of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or some other governmental agency in its operations.”
“But to impose burdens or regulations that affect society generally, he would have to have Congressional authorization,” he said.
A clip from the Newsmax interview (the full version is below):
A certain segment of the gun rights community has become intensely worried Obama is set to take away guns by fiat as he ponders legislative and executive action after the Newtown, Conn. shooting. Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) last week warned the White House promise to use the executive order to fight gun violence smacks of “tyranny.” Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) said Monday that the potential for executive action represents an “existential threat” to the country and swore to file articles of impeachment if necessary.
The far right wing of the gun rights community has gone farther. Radio host Alex Jones has warned of armed resistance if the government attempts to take away guns. A Tennessee firearms instructor lost his state carry permit after saying he would “start killing people” if Obama took executive action.
Obama is expected to announce his plans on Wednesday. He has said he’ll take executive action as part of his plan to reduce gun violence after the elementary school shootings in Newtown. At his press conference Monday, Obama hinted at what those might be.
“I think, for example, how we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals, and how we track that more effectively — there may be some steps that we can take administratively as opposed through legislation,” Obama said.
Full version of the Newmax interview with Meese: