Congressman speaks out against President’s gun control plan.

January 19, 2016
Congressman Dan Benishek

Congressman Dan Benishek

Letter to the Editor, by Rep. Dan Benishek, Michigan’s 1st Congressional District. 

Some of the fondest memories of my youth involve heading out into the woods western Upper Peninsula to hunt with friends and family.  My father had been killed in a mining accident when I was a kid, but I learned to hunt and shoot from people in our community who knew the importance of passing on this major tradition in our culture, just like my dad would have taught me. Today, one of the most rewarding parts of being a father and grandfather myself is passing on this heritage to my kids and grandkids like so many other families in northern Michigan do every day.

Guns are a part of our way of life; they put food on our table and keep our families safe.  Michigan’s First District sent me to Congress because they know I will do everything in my power to protect their rights.  Up North, we understand that the Constitution clearly enshrines each individual’s right to keep and bear arms to protect their lives and property.  The Supreme Court has even ruled that this right applies to every American, and that it is just as fundamental to our liberty as the freedoms of speech and assembly.  In Congress, I am working to fight those who would ignore these rights in favor of political optics. 

The Constitution also states that it is the power of Congress to write the laws and it is the responsibility of the President to responsibly implement them.   When I meet with students in grade school, even they can recite these basic truths about how our government is intended to operate.  Sadly, it would seem that the President of the United States skipped this chapter in civics class. 

The President’s recent executive orders on gun control undermine the basic tenets of our democracy and set a dangerous precedent for administrative power over our Constitutional rights.  While I believe we must do more to ensure that weapons stay out of the hands of those who are mentally ill or have criminal intentions, any changes to existing gun law should be deliberated and passed by Congress before taking effect.  While it is unfortunate that the President finds the democratic process to be inconvenient, that does not grant him the power or authority to make an end run around the Constitution in order advance his policy goals. 

In the House, we are currently working on bipartisan legislation that will reform how we provide resources for the mentally ill in this country.  It is my belief that this legislation, the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act,” will do much more to prevent mass shootings than the President’s ill-advised anti-gun agenda.  I would call on the President to be a willing partner in the legislative process as we work through these issues instead of poisoning the well with executive orders that circumvent the will of the people’s elected representatives.

Our Second Amendment rights are too important to leave to the judgement of one man.  Our Founding Fathers saw these rights as so essential to our liberty that they dedicated an entire amendment to their protection.  Any change to the administration of these rights should be vetted and evaluated by Congress, and to ignore this process in favor of political posturing is unbecoming of a President and a leader.  For this reason, I have joined with my colleagues in co-sponsoring a resolution to formally censure the President for his executive actions.  We should never stand by when our rights are being threatened by a government that is out of touch with the American people.  Northern Michigan can count on me to stand up in defense of their rights at every opportunity, and I will continue to fight for the Second Amendment for the remainder of my time in Congress.         


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