Are there mechanisms by which a President could, in effect, declare himself above the law, and carry a gun if he wanted to? As Tom Servo notes in the OP -- of course there are.
As a practical matter, does it make any sense for a President to do so? As others have pointed out, probably not, given that he's surrounded by professional gun-toters.
So it seems to me that this is the interesting question:
Originally Posted by Tom Servo
...what if we did have a President who carried? Would it change public perception in our favor, or would most people just assume that it was purely the prerogative of political figures?
What we really want, it seems to me, is a President who'll be an activist for gun rights. If a President issued an executive order authorizing himself to carry a gun, he'd be putting himself above D.C. law, which (still) prohibits civilians from carrying guns. In the short term, the publicity around this would be mostly negative, I think; in the long term, the President would be carrying, but most people would forget any short-term foo-rah, and carry would still be illegal for everyone else in D.C., at least until the Supreme Court rules otherwise (as they no doubt will eventually, but we seem to be using the status quo
as our jumping-off point for this discussion).
So public perception wouldn't really change -- most people have very short memories.
But suppose he weighed in, as an interested party, on the specific issue of D.C. gun laws -- and on the right to bear arms in general? I'd love to see a President say, "Hey, this is ridiculous, as a resident of the District of Columbia, even I am not allowed to carry a gun under the current laws! What about all the people who don't
have the kind of protection I get? Why is their
right to defend themselves being denied?"
Whatever happened to the "bully pulpit?" It would be nifty to have an activist
President, and I think he could be a lot more effective in that role if he didn't simultaneously put himself above the law.