Former GOP Arkansas Gov. and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee blasted the Obama White House on Wednesday for Vice President Joseph Biden’s suggestion that executive orders might be used to curb gun violence following last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
“Does this administration have nothing but contempt for the Constitution and the Congress?” he asked in response to an email query from Newsmax. “How can an ‘executive order’ trump not only the actual text of the Constitution, but the checks and balances of power in which no branch could act unilaterally and with indifference to the other branches?
“When Joe Biden and Barack Obama give up the vast amount of guns that protect them, then the rest of us will consider giving up the guns that protect our homes and our families,” Huckabee told Newsmax.
Meanwhile, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was just as critical on his afternoon radio program, saying Obama and the Democrats were “planning a gun grab” through executive order.
“When a bunch of liberals get together and start talking about guns — and include the possibility of executive orders, executive action that can be taken — what are they talking about?” Limbaugh asked, according to a transcript of the program. “Not involving Congress, but they're talking about taking guns away.
“What are they talking about here? Executive action to do what? Shore up the Second Amendment? I hardly think so.”
He later asked: “What could a bunch of liberal Democrats worried about guns, talking about using executive orders do? What could it possibly be about? A gun grab. So make no mistake: They are planning a gun grab.”
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And Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, on CNN attacked suggestions that firearms should be banned from schools and other gun-free zones.
Responsible gun owners, he said, might have been able to stop or limit some of the carnage from such mass shootings as the Dec. 14 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six adults died.
“We’re not talking about making it so people can defend themselves properly in these gun-free zones that have been the scene of some our worst mass murders over the last 20 years,” Pratt, a former GOP member of the Virginia House of Delegates, told CNN. “If you’re keeping the same policy, year after year, and getting the same deadly results, you’re going to get the same deadly results the next time.
“We want to encourage people who are qualified to carry a concealed firearm in a school zone to be able to do so,” he said.
Laws prohibiting this “need to stop, because all of these mass murders have been occurring in gun-free zones. It seems that we have a fixation with the idea that no defense is a good defense — and that’s not a good idea,” Pratt said.
At the start of a meeting earlier on Wednesday with gun-control advocates and groups representing victims, Biden said: “The president and I are determined to take action. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required."
Biden called it a moral issue, adding that "it's critically important that we act," according to the Weekly Standard.
The vice president will meet on Thursday with representatives from the National Rifle Association, which opposes new restrictions on firearms. Representatives from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer of guns, ammunition and accessories, has declined to meet with the vice president.
Biden’s recommendations are due at the end of the month.
Among the options are reinstating a ban on military-style assault weapons that expired in 2004, closing loopholes that allow gun buyers to escape background checks, and limiting use of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Biden added that the panel will examine ways to increase mental-health programs in schools and steps to alter a culture in the U.S. that glamorizes guns and violence.
Other recommendations include making gun-trafficking a felony, getting the Justice Department to prosecute people caught lying on gun background-check forms, and ordering federal agencies to send data to the National Gun Background Check Database.
But the Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, warned that Congress may not get to consider any gun legislation until spring.
"The biggest problem we have at the moment is spending and debt," McConnell said on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. "That's going to dominate the Congress between now and the end of March. None of these issues will have the kind of priority as spending and debt over the next two or three months."
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the former Connecticut Attorney General, has proposed requiring background checks for those buying large quantities of ammunition.
“There is no rational reason why a person can walk into a store, fill their shopping cart with hundreds of rounds of ammo, pay up, and walk out without so much as giving their name,” Blumenthal told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat who was wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people, was forming, with her husband, Mark Kelly, a political action committee to push for new gun laws.
The announcement brought a $1 million contribution on Wednesday from Steve and Amber Mostyn, the Texas trial attorneys.
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Steve Mostyn, one of the top contributors to a super PAC that backed Obama’s re-election bid, is listed as treasurer of Giffords’s organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Mostyn said the group would have a nonprofit operation, which will be used to conduct a public education campaign and that he’ll promote it to other Democratic Party donors as a counterweight to the NRA.
“It’s time to stop the NRA from bullying common sense out of the discussion,” he said in an interview.
According to Federal Election Commission records, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund spent $16 million in the two years leading up to the Nov. 6 election, the Associated Press reports.
An NRA nonprofit affiliate, the Institute for Legislative Action, made another $7.5 million in independent expenditures to help NRA-friendly candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, based in Washington, the AP reports.
The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this report.
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