LITTLE ROCK — States may need to take the federal government to court to prevent their citizens’ Second Amendment rights from being infringed upon by President Obama’s executive orders on gun control, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Thursday.
“No constitutional right can be infringed upon by an executive order, so I think that the attorneys general of the nation, including me, will be very protective to ensure that the federal executive branch doesn’t overstep,” McDaniel told the Arkansas News Bureau.
Obama on Wednesday said he wants Congress to ban assault weapons, limit ammunition clips to 10 rounds or less and broaden background checks for gun purchases, and he said he would take a number of actions by executive order, including measures aimed at strengthening the federal background-check system.
The announcement came a month after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six adults dead.
McDaniel said the president’s executives orders will need to be studied.
“If they are an infringement upon constitutional rights, with or without the consent of Congress, frankly, if the states have to act and bring actions in court, I … expect that we will,” he said.
McDaniel, a former Jonesboro police officer, said he went to the crime scene after the 1998 Jonesboro school shooting in which four children and one adult died.
“The images of it will haunt me for the rest of my life, but neither then nor now was my inclination to respond to that tragedy to curtail the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” he said.
Asked if there was anything in Obama’s agenda that he liked, McDaniel said he supports funding school resource officers and addressing mental health issues — but not new limits on gun ownership.
“I support the laws that we have on the books today,” he said.
On the day that Obama unveiled his plan, freshman state Rep. Richard Womack, R-Arkadelphia, filed House Resolution 1003, which would encourage all branches of local, state and federal government to “respect and preserve” the rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment and would declare that the Arkansas House “opposes any action that would abridge, infringe upon, or limit the right to keep and bear arms.”
Womack said Thursday he filed the resolution after hearing from constituents who were concerned about the president’s gun control proposals.
“My constituents feel that the federal government is not in touch with their wishes and that the Second Amendment is being intruded upon, so we just wanted to shore up our delegation’s understanding of the people of the state,” he said.
Reporter Rob Moritz contributed to this report.