The President may be declaring war on someone tonight... but who?

We learned last night that the President of the United States will be making a prime time address to the nation from the Oval Office tonight at 8 pm eastern, the first time he has done so since announcing the “end of the Iraq war” in August of 2010. (I’m guessing he plans on keeping it under half an hour or he’ll run into the kickoff of the Steelers game and his ratings will tank.) There are rumors circulating ahead of the speech, but the general concensus is that it will deal with the recent terrorist attacks and “keeping America safe” today and in the future. (Yahoo News)

In his address from the Oval Office on Sunday at 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday), Obama will try to reassure Americans in the wake of the shooting, which the FBI is investigating as a possible act of terrorism.

In addition to an update on the probe, Obama will “discuss the broader threat of terrorism, including the nature of the threat, how it has evolved, and how we will defeat it,” the White House said.

“He will reiterate his firm conviction that ISIL (IS) will be destroyed and that the United States must draw upon our values -– our unwavering commitment to justice, equality and freedom -– to prevail over terrorist groups that use violence to advance a destructive ideology.”

If this were any other President in recent history I’d have a fairly good guess as to what the thrust of the message would be, but in this case I’m not so sure. Yes, the President will talk about the threat from terrorism, but he will also discuss what we’re going to do about it. When the threat remained overseas, that was probably an easier task for Obama to tackle. He’d simply tell us yet again about all the bombing runs and drone strikes, while insisting that we couldn’t have American boots on the ground and call for more help from the locals.

San Bernardino changed everything, though. Now we have joined Paris and other locales in the club of those who have had ISIS killers shooting up their cities. If the President wants to be taken at all seriously, he’s going to have to own up to the fact that we’ve been hit in the heartland and tell us what he plans to do about that. He very recently said, “our homeland has never been more protected” but he’s in a rather small minority holding that opinion after last week.

With that idea in mind, there are two possibilities which occur to me regarding who Barack Obama will be going after. One possibility is, of course, that the President will once and for all announce that we are at war with ISIS and he’ll be going after them at home as well as abroad. But we’re not really at war yet, are we? Congress hasn’t weighed in on the matter officially, so perhaps he will call on them to do so. At Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis made a case this week for having Congress stop shirking its constitutional duties and do just that.

At the very least, Congress owes the American people an open debate on the President’s ISIS strategy. As it stands, after more than a year of a largely incoherent policy that has consisted largely of a series of fits and starts that have created a pattern of gradual escalation from humanitarian mission, to air support for Iraqi and Kurdish operations, to bombing operations in Syria and, now, the presence of American special forces on the ground in Syria, it may already be too late for that debate since the President has set the nation down a path that it will be hard to deviate from no matter what Congress on the American people want to do. Despite that, though, the debate should take place. The fact that it has not constitutes nothing less than an irresponsible shirking of Constitutional duties by Congress that the American people should be outraged about.

Perhaps that will happen… perhaps not. If the President is ready to “keep America safe” on the home front, the other possibility is that he’ll use the San Bernardino attacks as an excuse to make it harder for them to get guns. If you doubt that he’s got something like that in mind, the Daily Caller reported last week that Team Obama has been working on just such a plan already.

President Barack Obama’s aides are still working out a politically palatable way to implement a new gun control measure by executive order.

Plans to target private gun sales have been in the works for some time, but the administration is wary of political and potentially legal consequences of implementing the changes via executive order. Officials are analyzing state and local gun control efforts to find what they consider a winning strategy that will prevent mass shootings, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“That work includes looking at the gun show loophole,” a White House official involved in the work tells the LA Times. “But taking administrative action in this space is enormously complicated, with complex and intertwined policy, legal and operational considerations to take into account.”

Which way will he go? This could make for something of a defining moment in Barack Obama’s presidency. The enemy has struck at us deep in our own territory. Will he declare war on Islamic extremists and their supporters here in the United States? (Including those who provide money and supplies or simply hide those promoting jihad by not revealing them to the authorities.) Or will he declare war on lawful gun owners under the cover of making it harder for the terrorists to get guns? I normally wouldn’t tune into something like this on a Sunday night, but in this case I’ll be there.