CNN host Carol Costello on Thursday encouraged conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge to "step back from the edge" because they had overreacted to news that President Barack Obama could take minor actions to curb gun violence.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden had said that Obama could use executive orders to enact simple gun control measures in response to last month's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
The Atlantic pointed out on Wednesday that gun advocates should not start “freaking out” because Obama could not ban assault weapons or close the gun show loophole without Congress. He could, however, modernize the background check system and limit the importation of assault rifles.
But radio host Rush Limbaugh immediately warned his listeners that the executive order "could only be to take guns."
And the conservative website Drudge Report reacted with the headline, “WHITE HOUSE THREATENS ‘EXECUTIVE ORDERS’ ON GUNS." Accompanying photos compared Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.
"Let's step back from the edge, shall we?" Costello urged Drudge in her "Talk Back" segment on Thursday. "And examine what an executive order might really mean."
"In 1989 after a mass school shooting in Stockton, California, President George H.W. Bush -- a Republican -- issued an executive order banning the shipment of certain assault weapons, unless they were used for sporting purposes. In 1998, President Bill Clinton's executive order banned the import of dozens of assault weapons that had been modified to get that sporting-purposes exemption."
Costello concluded: "It's not likely President Obama would impose a total ban on assault weapons and he simply cannot overturn the Second Amendment. Executive orders are meant to execute existing laws."
Unfortunately, Costello's message is not likely to overcome the hyperbolic warning from Drudge and Limbaugh in the minds of people like Tactical Response CEO James Yeager, who posted a YouTube video on Wednesday and threatened to "start killing people" if Obama went ahead with an executive order to take his guns.
Watch this video from CNN's Newsroom, broadcast Jan. 10, 2013.