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President Obama's Executive Action On Gun Control Isn't An Overreach

No, it's not a 'dangerous power grab' either.

The live stream of President Obama's executive action announcement on gun control hadn't even ended before the RNC released a statement condemning the proposals as "insulting and political" and a "dangerous power grab."

However, here's the thing: They're really, really not.

Executive actions aren't the rare, scary political moments threatening to push us into dystopian YA novel-level of government control. Both executive orders (which are legally binding) and actions (which aren't, and which may be used as a catch-all for "something the executive branch does," NBC reports) are issued fairly often throughout presidential terms. Their effects vary. For example, they could be as big as a move for immigration reform or as small as offering federal employees a day off after Christmas. That also means the number passed alone isn't really a great indicator of overreach.

To be clear, they're a pretty mundane part of the bureaucratic political game until we're talking about something vaguely controversial.

The Washington Post once referred to executive orders (and the accompanying hand-wringing) as "the political nothing burger" -- and they're not wrong. While bypassing a Congress (especially one with a majority that is not in line with the sitting president's party) may not be the most celebrated way of passing policy, executive actions and orders aren't the path to democratic destruction.

As John Hudak, Senior Fellow of Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution, wrote in 2014, "If a president’s executive orders overstep their authority or improperly interpret or seek to enforce the law, there are means of relief. Congress can re-legislate the issue or ... courts can throw them out. Criticism of president-as-dictator are always overblown, as the other branches of government serve as checks on presidential power, and those checks extend to executive orders."

The Brookings Institution also reported back in 2014 that the rate of executive actions ordered by Obama was the slowest since Grover Cleveland (for those in need of a historical refresher, his second term ended in 1897). So even if the rate of executive actions were a sign of "dangerous power grabs," (though, again, they are not) the current POTUS isn't really someone we should be concerned about.