Presidential Power and Gun Control, a History

What’s the historical perspective on executive power and the Second Amendment?

Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET


Yesterday President Barack Obama issued an executive order to strengthen regulations around purchasing guns in the United States. The president says his order will make it more difficult for violent criminals to buy guns. And he says it should give more Americans the freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness without hindering Second Amendment rights.


But opponents to gun control say the president is threatening the right to bear arms in this country, and his executive order is overreaching. We’ll spend the hour talking about gun control, the Second Amendment, and presidential power. How have previous presidents and our founding fathers view the Second Amendment? How did politicians view executive power in controversial issues? Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Harlow Unger, author of biographies on Henry Clay, John Marshall, and the office of the president.


Distance: Some opponents say that President Obama’s gun control order went too far, but Stephen thinks that it wasn’t enough. “Was there an opportunity to go further?” Henderson asks. Unger says no.


Rights: Unger defends the right to own firearms, saying “The founding fathers considered the right to bear arms not only a basic right but a necessity,” because of the dangers of then-rural American life.


Morality: One caller says that gun control is a moral issue, “A vast majority does not agree on gun control…I don’t know how you enforce morality and moral behavior.”


To hear more of Stephen’s conversation with Unger, click the link above.