As President Barack Obama announced new executive actions aimed at curbing gun violence yesterday, Texas lawmakers wasted no time expressing their discontent at what they perceived was an overreach of presidential power and a trampling of constitutional rights.
Surrounded by family members of gun violence victims, a tearful Obama said he would move forward unilaterally on gun control, and explained a plan to crack down on sellers peddling weapons online and at gun shows by requiring them to be licensed and conduct extensive background checks on buyers.
Predictably, Texas politicians were displeased.
Gov. Greg Abbott didn't even bother to wait until Obama announced his plan, taking to Twitter on New Year's Day to offer a concise and strongly worded response (and he made sure the National Rifle Association saw his tweet, too).
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick put out a statement on his website, accusing Obama of "posturing."
"The President may not personally like it, but we have the constitutional right to protect ourselves, our families and our businesses," Patrick said in the statement. "If the president's goal is to sincerely help protect Americans he should make it easier to legally purchase, train and use their weapons of choice for protection than trot out phony new regulations to stand in their way."
In a press release yesterday, Attorney General Ken Paxton joined in the Lone Star State's pro-gun fun, too, accusing Obama of "pushing his personal and political agenda."
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Sen. Ted Cruz managed to squeeze in his own comments while on the campaign trail in Iowa, telling reporters he would repeal all of Obama's executive orders if he became president. “It shouldn’t surprise us that in the final year of his presidency, President Obama is committed to continuing to abuse his executive power in every way, shape and form, and especially in going after our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Cruz said, according to the Texas Tribune .
According to the Washington Post, Obama is legally allowed take this executive action because he is "clarifying" existing laws rather than creating completely new legislation, which would have needed to go through Congress first.
"I’m not on the ballot again; I’m not looking to score some points,” Obama said during yesterday's announcement. “We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people."
There is a limit to the steps Obama can take on gun control without congressional approval, and this executive order appears to be rather modest despite our state leadership's worried rhetoric. It remains to be seen if these restrictions will impact the average gun owner in Texas.