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Old August 21, 2011, 09:20 PM   #1
Tom Servo
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Could the President Carry?

Here's an interesting article that explores the theoretical possibility of a President carrying a gun for protection.

Teddy Roosevelt was known to carry a revolver, and he kept an FN 1900 at his bedside in the White House, but that was a different time, before attitudes about firearms changed, and before DC all but banned handguns.

The author of the article proposes three ways the President could legally do so:
  1. make it legal by executive order,
  2. convince the court that carrying a gun was necessary, or
  3. get deputized by the local police

Any of those options could be viable. A narrowly defined executive order might raise some political hackles, but I doubt it would merit a court challenge. Convincing the courts might seem odd, but it could be argued that it makes real sense for the Commander in Chief to be armed.

While the local police chief might not be fond of the idea of deputizing the President, I imagine he'd love the photo op too much to resist.

And 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?

(I really don't want this to get political. The article mentions Rick Perry by name, but we don't need to discuss the person. I'm more interested in the concept.)

<<<The statement in red is not just a good idea, let's consider it the rule for participation on this thread. JohnKSa>>>
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:22 PM   #2
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I wouldn't think it would be that far of a reach as Executive Orders go.

After all, as head of the Executive Branch, the President is already the boss of the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, US Marshals Service, DOJ...

So who exactly would protest?
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:30 PM   #3
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I wouldn't think it would be that far of a reach as Excecutive Orders go
I agree.
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:45 PM   #4
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As commander in chief, he could qualify as active military carrying.
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:52 PM   #5
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With the metric sh@%^ ton of Secret Service around me, if I were president, I would think I would be way more of a liability then otherwise.
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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I thought it was a pretty interesting article and I posted it, and it was something to talk about and everything but then my thread got locked

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=460209
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:17 PM   #7
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This one will get locked too if it becomes a discussion about politics/the upcoming election/the current president and his policies/etc. instead of a discussion about the legalities of a president carrying.
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:19 PM   #8
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Could the President Carry?
yes
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:49 PM   #9
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Could he carry? Probably and of course hell would freeze over also...
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:58 PM   #10
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So who exactly would protest?
Sarah Brady, Carolyn McCarthy, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Maynard Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Barry Manilow, Michael Bloomberg...I'm telling you, the outcry from some quarters would be magnificent

From the majority of the country, I imagine it'd be a two-day "event" in the papers, but maybe that would help in the long run.
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Old August 21, 2011, 11:07 PM   #11
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The best thing for the President and the country, when there is threat of the president being shot - is for the president to hit the ground and then be surrounded by agents.

I can see the president being armed for maybe a last resort, but for the president to stand and return fire - he (or she ) is either going to shoot a Secret Service agent or end getting shot by a Secret Service agent or end up getting shot by the assasin.
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Old August 21, 2011, 11:16 PM   #12
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Interesting look at POTUS being a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal. Although It doesn't say he can be one, just that a Member of Congress cannot due to "separation of powers". If there is a loophole for the President being able to carry, this is the one I would exploit.


Quote:
IMPERMISSIBILITY OF DEPUTIZING THE HOUSE SERGEANT AT ARMS AS A SPECIAL DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL

Appointment of the House Sergeant at Arms as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal would entail an overlapping of congressional and executive accountability that is incompatible with separation of powers requirements.

Appointment of the House Sergeant at Arms as a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal would impermissibly involve the institution of Congress in executive branch law enforcement.
http://www.justice.gov/olc/usmsdep_sa1.htm

EDIT: My highlighting.
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Old August 22, 2011, 10:45 AM   #13
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The best thing for the President and the country, when there is threat of the president being shot - is for the president to hit the ground and then be surrounded by agents.

I can see the president being armed for maybe a last resort, but for the president to stand and return fire - he (or she ) is either going to shoot a Secret Service agent or end getting shot by a Secret Service agent or end up getting shot by the assasin.
My thinking (the last time we had this discussion, before it veered off track) is that this is not far off from the mark.

POTUS travels with a fairly significant group of people tasked to his own personal protection. There's advance groups, scouts, precision marksmen, bodyguards in his immediate vicinity, and a few trucks loaded with stuff that we can only speculate at (but we're probably sure to be impressed by if we ever found out).

Set against that Secret Service entourage, exactly what would the President himself (or herself, in that eventuality), hope to accomplish? Any attacking force sufficient to overwhelm the protective detail isn't going to be stopped by any weapon in POTUS' own hands (and even then, the Prez could just pick up any gun dropped by a now-fallen guard). Furthermore, the President has other things to worry about than scanning for threats; there's no shortage of actual professionals doing that for him. The one threat that everybody understands would be the worst (lone nutcase) is not something that even the President would likely spot first.

I'm a proponent of carry, I carry myself, etc. But if I were in the Oval Office, have to say that I probably just wouldn't mess with it. There's nothing I would be able to do that the detail couldn't.

Even so, I still chuckle at the horror expressed by people over the President carrying a handgun. There's a bunch of people with handguns around him. There's folks with significantly better armament right nearby. Oh, and lest we neglect it, that dude with the briefcase has plans and communications gear sufficient to start the process of burning anyplace on earth to a radioactive cinder, and the President himself has a card with verification codes to begin a nuclear launch. Freaking out over the President having a pocket mousegun when he could wipe places off the map with a phone call is a little silly.
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Old August 22, 2011, 01:57 PM   #14
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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:
Quote:
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.
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Old August 22, 2011, 03:16 PM   #15
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I read somewhere the other day that Reagan carried a handgun in a briefcase.
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Old August 22, 2011, 03:43 PM   #16
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Sure he could carry.

As to whether it is a good idea or not:
-On the one hand he has no business shooting at BGs, that's what the Secret Service is for and he'd only get in the way.
-On the other hand, if he understands that, I don't see the harm in being armed for a "last ditch, worst case scenario."
[Politics redacted]
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Old August 22, 2011, 06:50 PM   #17
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Set against that Secret Service entourage, exactly what would the President himself (or herself, in that eventuality), hope to accomplish?
Didn't anybody see the movie "Air Force One?" That's what he could accomplish.
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Old August 22, 2011, 07:01 PM   #18
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Sarah Brady, Carolyn McCarthy, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Maynard Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Barry Manilow, Michael Bloomberg...I'm telling you, the outcry from some quarters would be magnificent
+1. It would be awesome to see. I mean the man has access to the "football" with all the codes, but someone would point out that he couldn't be trusted to carry a loaded handgun.
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Old August 22, 2011, 07:46 PM   #19
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Didn't anybody see the movie "Air Force One?" That's what he could accomplish.
Yeah, but I'd expect that from the guy who managed to do a commando raid on the Death Star. Real life Presidents, though, I don't think they could pull it off.
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Old August 22, 2011, 07:49 PM   #20
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It would be awesome to see. I mean the man has access to the "football" with all the codes, but someone would point out that he couldn't be trusted to carry a loaded handgun.
I doubt they would use the "untrustworthy" argument against the POTUS carrying, but I would bet quite a bit that some antis would decry the state of those nasty "gun nuts" and that they've "made it possible" for this to even be considered.
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Old August 22, 2011, 07:59 PM   #21
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Real life Presidents, though, I don't think they could pull it off.
If I had my way, Han Solo would be the real President. He always shoots first.

Quote:
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?"
Vanya, I think you're right on that point. The idea of the President penning an executive order so that he can carry (while other DC residents cannot) brings to mind Dick Mell's shenanigans in Chicago a few years back, and the whole thing would smack of elitism.

However, having a President bring the issue forth in the public arena the way you've described? That would be incredible, to see the fight being waged from the top down.
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Old August 22, 2011, 08:15 PM   #22
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It seems to have been overlooked that no one is likely to try and stop a president from carrying a gun. Therefore, the answer is yes, he could. Could he carry legally is a different question.
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Old August 22, 2011, 08:43 PM   #23
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To carry on federal property it just has to be for official purposes. So the president can easily get a permit to carry on any federal land or installation by writing a short memo. I do not think that memo would work for non-federal carry in states that restrict concealed weapons.
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Old August 22, 2011, 09:02 PM   #24
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are you talking about our current president?
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Old August 22, 2011, 09:04 PM   #25
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are you talking about our current president?
We're not talking about any particular President. We're discussing hypotheticals.

Let's please not go there.
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