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Vol. 77/No. 3      January 28, 2013

In ‘gun debate,’ Obama decrees
curbs on rights, more school cops
(front page)
President Barack Obama announced 23 executive orders Jan. 16 in response to the Dec. 14 mass killing in Newton, Conn.

The Militant ran an article in the Jan. 14 issue titled “Both Sides of Gun Debate Target Rights of Workers,” which explained that proposals put forward by capitalist politicians and the media—from the “left” and “right”—were aimed against the working class.

Seizing on public outrage, these proposals included inroads on the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms, more cops with greater powers, armed vigilantes and posses, restrictions and greater lockup of those deemed mentally ill, restrictions on movie and game content, and increased spying under the guise of predicting and preempting mass-murder outbursts.

Riding a wave of calls for tighter government restrictions on gun sales, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and liberal forces, Obama announced he would bypass the nuisance of congressional debate and vote-taking by issuing the first new laws by executive decree. The move is one of many that are part of a trend toward strengthening powers of the executive branch of government.

The orders are directed at expanding background checks and the data they contain for guns purchased; narrowing the pool of people eligible to own guns; strengthen cops ability to go after “gun crime”; and expanding deployment of cops in high schools. Obama presented a number of other proposals for Congress to discuss.

The announced measures come out of a presidential-appointed task force headed by Vice President Joseph Biden, which included Attorney General Eric Holder and the top officials of the departments of Homeland Security, Education, and Health and Human Services.

The task force met first with opponents of Second Amendment rights and then with proponents, including the National Rifle Association and the owners of Walmart. It also met with video game manufacturers and movie executives in order to consider new restrictions on violent media content.

“Friends of Mr. Bloomberg said he came to view guns, like tobacco and unhealthy food, as a dangerous consumer product,” the New York Times reported Dec. 21.

Obama has long bemoaned workers’ alleged “fixation” on guns, viewing it as a symptom of their lower intelligence and prejudice.

“It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment,” Obama told a San Francisco fundraiser in April 2008.

“The president should not be able to act unilaterally when it comes to our constitutional rights,” Congressman Jeff Duncan, Republican from South Carolina, said. “Executive orders were meant as a way for the president to implement legislatively passed laws, not to make law.”

Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, has said Congress will put off dealing with gun control legislation for at least three months because of fiscal policy deadlines he claims will consume all the legislature’s time.

Unilateral executive action has been a feature of Democratic and Republican presidents alike over many decades, especially in areas of spying and “national security.” Obama has been taking it a few steps further, from secret executive approval of warrantless Internet spying to presidential orders for assassination of those the government labels “terrorists.”

Like the new laws being floated for gun restrictions, these decrees are peddled to working people as necessary concessions for the sake of our “security.”

Obama is considering taking similar executive action around the issue of the so-called debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg and his cops in New York announced Dec. 20 they are taking steps to use “precrime” spying to find and neutralize “lone gunmen” who can become mass killers.

They intend to copy National Security Agency measures, authorized by executive orders from both George W. Bush and Obama, to spy on people’s Internet and phone communications.

“The goal would be to identify the shooter in cyberspace, engage him there and intervene, possibly using an undercover to get close, and take him into custody or otherwise disrupt his plans,” New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in a statement reported in the New York Times.  
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