Gun Policies Must Follow Constitution

No one aware of President Barack Obama’s rhetoric and his background should doubt that if he thought he could get away with it, he would use executive orders to limit or ban private ownership of certain types of firearms.

But Americans sensitive to the chipping away of constitutional guarantees for many years are making it clear the Second Amendment is something they do not believe should be weakened by any individual.

Still, Obama and Congress are under tremendous pressure to do something to lessen the potential for more mass murders such as that in Newtown, Conn., last month. So the White House reportedly is considering 19 executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence.

Most of them make sense. For example, ordering that federal agencies take more strict action against people who lie on gun sale background checks is a good idea. So is conducting more research into gun violence.

Initiatives such as those fall within the constitutional authority of the executive branch. They may do some good by keeping guns out of the hands of people who could pose threats to society.

Again, Obama no doubt would prefer to do more to limit gun ownership. But this is a situation in which public opinion may – and should – force him to act only within the bounds of the Constitution.