Obama's ratings are abysmal, yet the GOP has done very little to garner enthusiasm from voters. In fact, many rank and file Republicans believe the GOP is complicit with the Democrats in creating our current national woes.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been one of the few GOP presidential candidates to get significant support outside of entertainer Donald Trump, began to get that traction after a scathing attack of the Republican leadership that he waged from the House floor. He captured the attention of his colleagues and the media when he took the Majority Leader of the Senate (Mitch McConnell) to task for allegedly lying to his colleagues over Barack Obama's trade deal. That kind of red meat will always be well received by grassroots conservatives.
Barack Obama has stated himself that middle America clings to "guns or religion" (typically both). He even stated that guns came first. Yet this week, roughly a year before a new president will be inaugurated to replace him, he has expanded, through executive order, regulations on guns. In that order, the Obama Administration is redefining "engaged in the business," as defined in current Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) regulations. The goal is to redefine the term to include more non-licensees in the definition of "dealer," in order to expand the number of background checks.
The Obama approach has certainly backfired. Americans are responding to mass shootings and threats of more arms regulations by purchasing more guns. For many, the obvious fact that several of these events are happening in "gun-free zones," makes it very logical that they want to assure their own protection wherever possible. The biggest "gun-free zone" for practical purposes, is Chicago, which has a population roughly the same as Houston, Texas but many times more the violent crime. No wonder Obama's efforts are frowned on by average Americans and have generally led to a revolt of sorts. I'm sure many chuckled when he alluded, in his recent speech, to Chicago violence in his press conference on the new regulation, without mentioning that city's restrictive gun laws.
GOP candidates for the White House immediately began to denounce the measure. Senior House Republican Kevin Brady (R-TX) noted,
Gun violence is real, but nothing will change as long as President Obama keeps ignoring mental health care while targeting law-abiding citizens who responsibly exercise their second amendment rights. Let's be honest, Mr. President, you're playing politics and trying to circumvent Congress because your dictates are outdated, unconstitutional and won't make this country one ounce safer. Until you get serious about real mental health care in America, I'll fight hard to stop these political games.
Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX), a former CIA officer, in a statement to my radio show, said
President Obama's announcement of his executive order to restrict the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens is yet another attempt to circumvent the legislative branch and impose his agenda on the American public. The President is ignoring that the law already requires people who sell firearms for a living to be licensed. He should instead target the criminals who aren't following the law in the first place. The level of executive overreach is outrageous and is another assault on the liberties our nation was built upon. I am a firm believer in the plain language of the Second Amendment, guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms. Congress will conduct vigilant oversight and this executive order will no doubt be challenged in the courts.
Obama's decision is not particularly far reaching from a policy perspective, but rings a loud alarm to many Americans concerned about their gun rights. It shows the president is tone deaf as he places this albatross around the neck of the Democrats as they fight for their political lives in what is expected to be a very challenging election year. What an odd parting present for a president to give to his party. Well, at least the GOP appreciates it.