As she clawed for survival against Barack Obama in Wisconsin’s Democratic primary this past weekend, Hillary Clinton lamely asserted her Second Amendment bona fides over that of her rival by claiming that she once shot a duck in Arkansas.
As pathetic a pander as that tale was, it did serve to point out one gaping weakness in the armor of the Illinois senator, a man who must rely on blue-collar white voters if he hopes to prevail first in the Democratic primaries, and later in the general election.
The weakness? Barack Obama’s utter disdain of firearms (especially handguns) and a refusal to recognize the rights of law-abiding Americans to own the most common and relied-upon types of firearms.
In his answers to the 1998 Illinois State Legislative National Political Awareness Test, Obama said he favored a ban on “the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.”
By definition, this would include all pistols ever made, from .22 target pistols used in the Olympics to rarely-fired pistols kept in nightstands and sock drawers for the defense of families, and every pistol in between. Obama’s strident stand would also ban all semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, whatever their previously legal purpose.
In 1999, Obama proposed to make it a felony for the gun owner if a firearm stolen from his residence and used in a crime was not “securely stored” — effectively negating the homeowner’s right to self-defense.
That same year, Obama bravely voted “present” on a law that would require teens 15 and older to be tried as adults for firing weapons on or near school grounds. Obama also proposed the idea of banning businesses that sell firearms from operating within five miles of a park or school — restrictions that would treat gun shops worse than “adult” businesses trafficking in pornography.
From 1998-2001, Obama sat on the board of directors for the Joyce Foundation, a left-wing group which today funds grants to anti-gun organizations such as the Violence Policy Center (which advocates total handgun prohibition, reinstatement of the Clinton-era “assault weapons” ban, and the ban of other firearms), the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence (which favors the registration of all handguns, seeks to overturn Ohio’s “concealed carry” law, ban standard capacity magazines, and ban economical handguns along with many semi-automatic firearms based upon their appearance), and Handgun Free America (which advocates a complete ban on civilian handgun ownership).
All of these organizations seek to disarm law-abiding Americans. This is the idea of “change” that they share with Barack Obama.
On the federal stage, Obama’s brief U.S. Senate career has already seen him vote against a bill (S.397) to protect the firearms industry from those who seek to sue manufacturers, distributors, and importers for the criminal misuse of firearms by criminals, an idea akin to suing car manufacturers for damages caused by drunk drivers.
Tellingly, Obama’s presidential campaign has sought to hide his history of trying to disarm law-abiding Americans.
Buried deep in the “Issues” section of Obama’s web site under “Additional Issues” is a PDF document that can only be described as an attempt to talk around Obama’s real position on firearm ownership. In a section where the campaign claims to “respect” the Second Amendment, the document states:
Millions of hunters own and use guns each year. Millions more participate in a variety of shooting sports such as sporting clays, skeet, target, and trap shooting that may not necessarily involve hunting. As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama understands and believes in the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.
Tellingly, Obama’s campaign only addresses the gun rights of hunters and specific shotgun-only shooting sports, and only then in vague terms.
At no point does Obama recognize an individual right to own handguns, or explicitly recognize a right for Americans to use a firearm to defend themselves or others. The site explicitly states that Barack Obama recognizes civilian gun ownership for two just purposes, “hunting and target shooting.”
Hillary Clinton, almost as liberal as Obama on the issue of gun control, could not take advantage of Obama’s radical, out-of-the-mainstream position on firearm ownership because she, too, holds many of the same liberal ideas.
As America moves toward the general election, however, John McCain will have no such problems in discussing Obama’s distrust of his fellow Americans on this issue.
McCain is hardly the poster boy for the National Rifle Association, but McCain claims to strongly support gun rights, stating, “Neither justice nor domestic peace are served by holding the innocent responsible for the acts of the criminal,” a position diametrically opposed to the record of Obama, who favors outright prohibition of many common civilian firearms.
In August 2007, writing at the liberal blog Daily Kos, “BlueDotRedField” shared his lament on Obama’s gun control history coming back to haunt him in the diary entry “Obama gunning to lose in 2008“:
The clear implication of this statement is that Obama believes that Chicago’s violent crimes are to be solved at a national level — since Chicago & IL already have VERY tough gun control laws that have not stopped their crime problems, and to be solved by gun control legislation specifically mentioning the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” and blaming Bush for that ban’s lack of renewal.
This statement is very important for those of us lifetime Democrats who not only are more libertarian leaning (especially after 8 years under the imperial presidency of George Bush), are more rural, and who own firearms or have family/friends who do. This statement is also the battle cry that figures on the right have been waiting for from Obama just in case he could actually beat out Hillary.
Common political wisdom has been that gun control legislation, and specifically the AWB, was [the] key handing the Congress to the right in 1994. Additionally, it played a strong part in the election and re-election of George Bush. Only recently, as we have run more centrist and rural understanding Democrats, were we able to retake Congress and have any chance at countering Bush & Co. in any way.
And we stand at a precipice where we can hand it all right back to them.
There seems little chance that Barack Obama can hide his real record and views of gun ownership from the American public though November’s presidential elections.
Once his prohibitive views of firearms ownership become known to America’s millions of gun owners, they may well decide that a gun-grabbing Barack Obama promises the kind of “change” that they can’t believe in.
Bob Owens blogs at Confederate Yankee.