Many of our freedoms seem to have disappeared right before our eyes; no explanation needed, no permission needed, and no votes cast. How could this possibly happen without more involvement among the people of our country? It’s all linked to two words: executive orders.
In this two-part article, we examine the subject and history of executive orders. How do they end up affecting everyday life? Can executive orders infringe on our right to keep and bear arms?
We begin with federal executive orders. In our next newsletter, we will cover state executive orders issued by our governors. These state-based executive orders have certainly been in the news throughout the pandemic as states have tried to “slow the spread” of the COVID-19 virus. But for now, let’s start at the top of the U.S. executive branch.
The Authority of the President
The President of the United States of America has the ability to issue executive orders. In fact, executive orders can be traced all the way back to this country’s first president, George Washington. An executive order is a means of issuing federal directives by the President to manage the operations of the federal government. The legal or constitutional basis for executive orders has multiple sources.
The authority of the President to issue an executive order is not expressly stated in the United States Constitution, but rather implied. This implied power comes from Article II, Section 1, which states “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Furthermore, Section 3 of Article II states that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
In some cases, the President has statutory authority to issue executive orders, as codified in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations with the force of law. Although the President does not need Congressional approval to issue an executive order, Congress can revoke an executive order by enacting new laws subject to the President’s veto power or withholding federal funding. Executive orders are not, however, without limitations and are subject to legal review by the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Extraordinary Power of Presidential Orders
Although executive orders are directives to the government and federal agencies—rather than individuals—many historic examples demonstrate the impact on individual rights. If an agency is forced to change a policy because of an executive order, then that policy can directly affect the average American.
In the many years since our founding as a country, there have been some noteworthy executive orders issued by the President that greatly affected people; some severely limited their rights under the Constitution, and seem outright antithetical to our American ideals. Here are some noteworthy examples:
- President Harry Truman: Faced with a massive strike by the steel industry during the Korean War, President Truman signed Executive Order 10340 on April 8, 1953. This order allowed the Secretary of Commerce to take possession of certain American steel mills and ordered any and all federal agencies to assist as necessary in the plant and facility seizures. This was quickly ruled by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.
- President Woodrow Wilson: Demonstrating that executive orders can impact specific aspects of life—even hunting—through Executive Order 1884, President Wilson made the use of hunting with a “lantern, torch, bonfire, or other artificial light” a misdemeanor offense. Further, Wilson signed many other executive orders covering hiring, anti-corruption efforts, telegraph and wireless services, postal crimes, and even got involved in the day-to-day operations of the Panama Canal Zone… all by executive order.
- President Abraham Lincoln: President Lincoln took a drastic and controversial step to sign an executive order that suspended habeas corpus and the right of the accused to report unlawful detention. This was done to stop a Southern-sympathizing legislator from blocking the movement of Union troops to Washington, which was virtually undefended at the start of the war. While the initial order only allowed for warrantless arrest between New York City and Washington, D.C., President Lincoln also suspended habeas corpus and imposed martial law in Kentucky on July 5, 1864.
- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“FDR”): Through Executive Order 9066, in 1942 President Roosevelt authorized the detention of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans. Taken mostly from the West Coast, approximately 60% of those interned were American citizens, were denied the right of habeas corpus, and placed in detention facilities on account of having Japanese ancestry.
Gold, Guns, and Presidential Orders
Another noteworthy FDR action occurred on April 3, 1933 when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6102, requiring Americans to surrender their gold (other than gold jewelry, gold coins, and a very small amount of gold bullion) to the government for payment of the then prevailing value of the gold surrendered.
If you could be forced to surrender gold by executive order, is it a stretch to think that guns could go the same way? To date, a mandatory buyback has never been attempted. One failed 2020 presidential candidate, memorably proclaimed during a debate in Houston, that “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Possibly, this candidate was thinking of issuing an executive order?
Beyond executive orders, the President has other executive powers, such as issuing a proclamation and/or memorandum. A recent example of this is the banning of bump stocks. In 2018, President Donald Trump used his executive power, through memorandum, to require the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ban bump stocks by changing their regulations. Of course, President Trump is not the first to use his executive power to restrict firearms. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, President Barack Obama issued several executive actions involving gun control. These actions included:
- Directing federal agencies to share background check information with one another.
- Giving money to the states for sharing background check information.
- Reviewing the criteria of who should be prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transferring firearms and ammunition.
- Launching a “safe and responsible” gun ownership campaign.
- Requiring federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
- Clarifying that doctors, under the Affordable Care Act, may ask their patients about guns in their homes.
Executive orders are a powerful tool of government that can easily change depending on the particular Commander in Chief and their desired policies. This is why it is extremely important to research all candidates for elected office (especially a presidential candidate) to understand his or her position on gun control and policy. Your votes can and will affect American gun rights!
Be sure to look out for Part 2 of this story in the upcoming newsletter. For more information about how a federal executive order can impact your rights, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.
No permission needed? You give your permission when you comply with immoral, unconstitutional orders. If you hand in your guns, if you put on a face diaper, if you tell your employees and your customers to put on a face diaper, or your parishioners, or your patients, you’re complicit in giving the arbitrary fatwas legitimacy that they wouldn’t otherwise have. The way you vote for or against arbitrary edicts is by granting or withdrawing your compliance. Consent of the governed, remember? Give it or don’t, but don’t blame the power-lusting creeps when they act like power-lusting creeps.
Very well said!
As a former Marine i take offense to your references on masks. As Marines we are trained to use protective gear whether it is a mask or a flak jacket.
Yes, you said it, “Trained”! It has always been my perspective that animals are trained and humans should be educated, but somewhere along the line, humans let themselves be trained instead, either out of innate laziness or ignorance. Don’t get me wrong, some humans just can’t be educated. Training is their only option, which the “trainers” love because they then have a malleable population who can be manipulated and controlled much like what the state of our country is in today. I pray that enough of the populace will wake up to the need to be educated (and NOT by the government!) so that we can make informed decisions and take appropriate and responsible actions. No one should be proud of their “training”.
Can you please do an article like this regarding the powers of the Texas Governor? HE said he had suspended some rights of Texans in his previous executive order. I have emailed the Texas AG asking for this information with no reply. This guy as gone a tyrannical streak lately that has also been unconstitutional. I agree with C Manny. This virus was the broom to sweep us into the dust bin.
We should have the right to devine our self.
It’s called recognize and resist. We recognize the legitimacy of POTUS and resist his illegal acts.
“ The authority of the President to issue an executive order is not expressly stated in the United States Constitution, but rather implied. ” Bull crap. This is nothing more than rewriting the Constitution to one’s liking.
We the people have a right to defend ourselves.
First of all if every one sits on their. Asses like they have for the last 70 years. Nothing is going to get done.we the people run the government but we have. Lay down like dogs and let the government do what the he’ll the wanted to do we should have stoped this crap years buy setting term limits of 4 years only then we would not have to Pay them so much money. And retirement pay. Plus cut their stares in half. And last you would have new ideas ever 4years. Their would be no good old boy crap .
We have the right to protect what is ours..The Mayor’s GOVERNOR’S AND THE President of the United States work for us..We The People
STAND AND PROTECT THE 2ND AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CONTROL US NOR TELL LAW ABIDING AMERICAN S WHAT TO DO!!!
Guess you haven’t heard of Hawaii whete the 2nd oes not live
We have got to stop our Politicians from using Fear, Lies and Violence to make America willing to give up their constitutional rights. They misuse our tax dollars, they place people in harms way, they promote hate and racism to keep America divided, they protect and make excuses for criminals and murderers. We have no punishment or accountability for an individual’s actions. The 2nd amendment is the most important of all our freedoms. It was written not so we can hunt or self protection. Its main and only function is to protect the citizens from the Government. All the freedoms we have in America rely only on the 2nd amendment, Without it all our freedoms are at risk. We must hold politicians accountable
Like the Governor’s of NY, NJ, PA who deliberately place infected coronavirus patients in nursing homes. This is outright murder and they should be prosecuted for it. What they did was cold blooded murder without a gun. We must have and ENFORCE the Death Penalty for Murder. All the killings in our city’s with Guns has got to stop. If anyone murders someone gets the death penalty. Guns that kill Indirectly innocent people get life in prison, no parole. We must start to value human life. It’s bad enough these same criminal Governors allow Baby Murder in there states. They will answer to God for what they have done. The mockery of calling an organization Planned Parenthood when they murder children. Where is the parenthood in that? The soul of America is at Stake and once lost it will never be regained.
God should allways come first!!!!! That s why our country is heading down this ugiy path we are on because people have fogotten neel for God!!! Country is next stand for our Flag and the hell with the neelers. The right to own guns and protect the people we love, and ourselves. It all starts with a vote and this year we realy need to go in person if posibale. GOD BLESS THE U.S.A.
Our bill of rights and 2nd amendment protects us from them, it doesn’t do anything more. Our 2nd amendment does not give us the right, it limits government. Our rights are God given unalienable and therefore can not be government taken no matter what a politician says does or thinks.
Our constitution limits government for a reason. Government has absolutely no constitutional authority to limit or take rights.
Do not ever consent to unconstitutional laws or executive orders. Government is filled with overstepping tyrannical politicians.
I will not ever comply
“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788
“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…”
– George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790
“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776
“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787
“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”
– Thomas Jefferson, Commonplace Book (quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria), 1774-1776
“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785
“The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824
“On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823
“I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence … I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to Giovanni Fabbroni, June 8, 1778
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
“To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.”
– George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adooption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788
“I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers.”
– George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
– Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787
“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.”
– James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”
– James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, June 8, 1789
“…the ultimate authority, wherever the derivative may be found, resides in the people alone…”
– James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788
“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
– William Pitt (the Younger), Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783
“A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves…and include, according to the past and general usuage of the states, all men capable of bearing arms… “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
– Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer No. 18, January 25, 1788
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined…. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.”
– Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1778
“This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.”
– St. George Tucker, Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1803
“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms, like law, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance ofpower is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. And while a single nation refuses to lay them down, it is proper that all should keep them up. Horrid mischief would ensue were one-half the world deprived of the use of them; for while avarice and ambition have a place in the heart of man, the weak will become a prey to the strong. The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.”
– Thomas Paine, “Thoughts on Defensive War” in Pennsylvania Magazine, July 1775
“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
– Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788
“The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
– Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833
“What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.”
– Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789
“For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787
“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28
“[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.”
– Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28, January 10, 1788
“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
– Tench Coxe, Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789
Copied and pasted. Thank you.
We are RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERS….now look in the mirror. Face diapers? With our counties expansive personal freedoms and rights come personal responsibility and the responsibility to act like an ADULT. What is the mirror saying back to you? Sometimes gun owners are their own worst enemy. Be an advocate for gun ownership, not an idiot.
Thank you for the voice of reason.
Can you check on the WASHINGTON Governer’s orders. it seems “pandemic” equates to almost marshal law. It’s bad enough we have to wear a mask (muzzle) and many of our personal freedoms are being stomped. Where are are rights?
If anyone plans on rebelling, or standing up against tyranny—good luck. Better be 150% sure of winning if you do, you don’t get sent home with a slap on the wrist, or a “better luck next time “. You will be labeled a traitor, charged and convicted as such. Our forefathers would’ve been hung for treason if they didn’t win—and rightly so. We are already living under the most oppressive and tyrannical government that exists.
Term limits? We have those in place, every 2-4-6 years.
I was a Cop for 23 years, both in NYPD and a few years in CO … There are very few Police Officers that would be willing to carry out any gun removal order. No matter where it comes from. We all realize, American citizens would not stand for it. Once the shooting starts the cops are way out numbered and you most likely wont live through the first week. After that how many would come back to work..
The average American is very pro America and very pro cop and would go out of there way to help an Officer under attack. But if you try to remove the only sure way for and American to protect himself or his family, that’s a different story.
Scott W. Ret NYPD
Thank you for your insight and for being a police officer for so many years. I have friends who are cops and questioning staying on the force.
Thank you Scott for your service!
“I like the comment from Rhonda Clark,”We have the right to protect what is ours..The Mayor’s GOVERNOR’S AND THE President of the United States work for us..We The People”. On a different slant, the news media is as biased as the politicians, and will only report the “news” according to whomever pays them the most. Between now and November, I’ll be watching to see how everything plays out.