Mr. Biden’s list of executive orders, a growing trend in recent administrations, lead some to suggest dictatorship can’t be far away. An extreme view perhaps yet consider the troubling assertion regarding his gun control executive order that “no amendment is absolute.” Given Mr. Biden's penchant for misstatements, (he twice stated “AFT” rather than “ATF” during last week’s ceremony), we might graciously attribute his statement to that oft-documented failing. Otherwise speculation about his mental decline would seem all the more viable and his inability to speak dwarfed only by his failure to think consistently about his position.

Case in point, his denouncing of Georgia’s voting bill with statements that caused a cascade of corporate interference and which even the liberal Washington Post labeled completely false. Comments that characterized the bill as Jim Crow era voter suppression. Surely then, that person wouldn’t suggest the 15th or 19th Amendments were anything less than absolute since they empowered Blacks and women respectively to vote, in other words ending suppression for those voting blocks. Surely those are absolute.

Certainly he wouldn’t be referring to the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. Equally unlikely is opposition to the 16th Amendment, which permits the levy of income tax so absolutely necessary for his grandiose spending plans. And with his obvious disdain for the policies of the 45th president to which many of his executive orders were directed, the odds would be astronomical that he would oppose the 12th Amendment. Before its ratification in 1804, the vice president was the person who came in second, in this case Donald Trump. Though the media is unlikely to ask, or even be given a chance to, they would be hard-pressed to find an amendment other than the Second, which Mr. Biden views as less than absolute.

Does gun violence necessitate repealing or amending the Second Amendment? If so, the Constitution outlines the procedure for that. It requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress and subsequent ratification by 34 states, not the stroke of a presidential pen. A complex and lengthy process? Yes, and activists rightly say such a process wouldn’t stop the killing tomorrow, but neither will Mr. Biden’s executive orders, as time itself will reveal.

But the process laid down by our founders does allow  robust and detailed debate of the citizenry to address the issue rather than media soundbites, uninformed Twitter posts, political talking points, corporate bullying, and the elimination of constitutional rights. Given government overreach in the name of Covid-19, already resulting in suppression of First and 14th Amendment rights, dismissing Mr. Biden's comment of no “amendment is absolute” would be irresponsible.

I neither own a gun nor value them. I value freedom. So when a sitting president, who swore an oath to defend the Constitution says that document isn’t absolute, I can’t help but wonder: is dictatorship really all that far away?

William Shifflett is an Edinburg resident.