One week ago today, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2055, the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012.” He also issued a “presidential signing statement,” a controversial mechanism by which a president tells Congress he is not bound by parts of the newly signed law with which he disagrees. The line item veto is not dead, after all. In fairness, Obama did not invent this practice, as The Hill pointed out last week:
Signing statements are highly controversial, and their legality is disputed. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, broke the record for most signing statements by a president.
The signing statement itself can be seen here, and the section of greatest concern to gun rights advocates is this (emphasis added):
Additional provisions in this bill, including section 8013 of Division A and section 218 of Division F, purport to restrict the use of funds to advance certain legislative positions. I have advised the Congress that I will not construe these provisions as preventing me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibility to recommend to the Congress’s consideration such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient.
Section 218 would be this:
Sec. 218. None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.
What Congress intended with Section 218 was to prevent precious tax dollars from being spent on such “studies” as the one we discussed over two years ago, with the objective of determining if drunken teenage hoodlums were more likely to be shot than the general populace. The NRA has compiled a few more examples of what kinds of “studies” Congress intended to stop billing taxpayers for:
- $2,639,453 was spent by the NIH to investigate whether adolescents 10-19 years old who were treated at the hospital for a gunshot wound were more likely to have consumed alcohol and/or carried a firearm during the time period surrounding their injury than victims of a non-gun assault. Basically, the researchers wanted to know why teenagers who possess firearms illegally and engage in underage drinking and consort with those who do the same-were likely to be involved in violent situations.
- $1,980,327 was allocated by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of NIH, to determine the relationship between gun violence and the presence of bars and liquor stores. The researchers posited that communities could lower homicide and suicide rates by improving zoning regulations for “alcohol outlets.”
- $35,933 in federal funding was used to “understand the determinants of firearm ownership and storage practices” and “measure attitudes and beliefs about firearms” among parents. The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through NIH, and aimed to solidify the notion that a “home free of hazards” was essential to children’s safety and well-being.
Congress intended, in other words, that gun owning taxpayers not foot the bill for lobbying against their own liberty–and Obama has chosen to defy that part of the law.
Interestingly, as a presidential candidate, Obama eloquently described the blatant unconstitutionality of these signing statements (see sidebar video, about a minute and a half long, and thanks John Richardson, for finding the video). First, he straight up promises not to use presidential signing statements. Then he (quite justifiably) chastised then-President Bush for his profligate use of them. He closed with this:
We’re not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress. Alright?
President Obama is now indisputably an oath breaker and liar. Kinda makes one wonder about his veracity here, doesn’t it?
- Brady Campaign hypocrisy
- Your Laws Mean Nothing To Me
- John Frazier Of The NRA-ILA On Obama’s Signing Statement