“You hear some of these quotes: ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away,’ Obama said. “Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.”As a lawprof, I read that to mean that he is not constrained. He's juggling a few ideas, but what he's getting at is: The Founders put into place a system that would be populated by elected officials, who are to act for the sake of the people and as the people want. If what the people want our government to do is control guns, then it is within the power of government to do it.
That's the constitutional argument he has in mind. It's an idea of constitutional government as a political system, within which rights are only another manifestation of what the people want. And, in the ultimate scary twist on the idea of rights: Government is not to be regarded as in need of limits, because the government is us. Anything we — the government — want to do is never tyranny, but freedom.