Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama the anti-gun nut

Post below recycled from Taranto. See the original for links

Back in April, columnist Robert Novak noted that Barack Obama was performing a "dance" on the topic of gun rights:
Obama, disagreeing with the D.C. government and gun control advocates, declares that the Second Amendment's "right of the people to keep and bear arms" applies to individuals, not just the "well regulated militia" in the amendment. In the next breath, he asserts that this constitutional guarantee does not preclude local "common sense" restrictions on firearms.

The government of the District of Columbia is defending a gun ban before the Supreme Court, with a decision expected this month. The National Rifle Association Web site has a list of those "common sense" restrictions Obama has favored. One of them caught the eye of blogger David Hardy:
Barack Obama supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park, which would eliminate almost every gun store in America.

The reference is to a post by David Bernstein of The Volokh Conspiracy, which quotes from a Chicago Defender article of Dec. 13, 1999:
He's proposing that all federally licensed gun dealers sell firearms in a storefront and not from their homes while banning their business from being within five miles of a school or a park.

Five miles? As Hardy notes, the effect of this would be to "eliminate almost every gun store in America." Alan Korwin, a Phoenix-based gun-rights advocate, has a series of maps of his hometown, showing areas that are "gun-free school zones" under a federal law that bans possession of firearms within 1,000 feet of a school. Phoenix is a sprawling city; to show the effect of such restrictions on an older, denser town, Korwin also has a map of downtown Cleveland, which shows dense concentrations of 2,000-foot-diameter circles.

The proposal Obama endorsed in 1999 would have banned gun stores within five miles, or 26,400 feet, of a school. Imagine the same maps with each of those circles 10 miles across. Gun stores would be permitted only in the most remote rural areas--and only if there is also no park within five miles.

The Defender article also reported that Obama proposed "to make it a felony for a gun owner whose firearm was stolen from his residence which causes harm to another person if that weapon was not securely stored in that home." This sentence is clumsily worded, but it seems to be saying that if someone breaks into your house, steals your gun, and uses it to rob a liquor store, Obama would send you to prison for failing to store it "securely."

To be sure, these are positions Obama took as a state legislator. It is unlikely that he would stand by them today, and even unlikelier that Congress would enact them. But it does lead one to think that Obama's instinct is to trash, rather than protect, the Constitution.

Florida: Gun scares off kidnapper: "A woman said she used a gun to scare away a man who was trying to lure her teenage daughter into a truck. The mother, who did not wish to be identified, said the man approached her 16-year-old daughter on Alhambra Circle near their home. "She was walking her dog in the median right out in front of our house here, and a man approached her in a truck and tried to get her to come to the truck," the woman said. The teenager ran to nearby Coral Gables Elementary School, calling her mother and 911. The mother confronted the man and showed him her 9-mm gun. "It's not until I showed him that I was armed and that I meant business to protect my daughter that he backed off," she said. Coral Gables police arrested Ramon del Risco in connection with the incident."

California man shoots would-be burglar : "An armed East Oakland homeowner who tried to dissuade a burglary suspect with several warning shots ended up shooting the man in the leg Monday in the most recent in a string of incidents in which victims have shot suspects. Neighbors of the home on the 2200 block of 100th Avenue said the house had been broken into before. "The guy is exasperated because they target his house," said the shooter's next-door neighbor, who declined to give her name. Police said the 37-year-old homeowner, who has lived in the house most of his life, was home a little before 11 a.m. Monday when he saw someone walk toward his garage, then reappear and try to pry open a back window with a garden tool. The homeowner walked to his deck and fired warning shots with a pistol, which seemed to drive the man away. But when the homeowner stepped out his front door, the suspect reappeared and began moving toward the house, as if determined to get in, according to a statement the man gave police. The homeowner fired two more warning shots into the ground, but the suspect kept coming forward, at which point the homeowner shot the suspect in the upper leg. Police identified the burglary suspect as Marcus Holoman, 51. He did not have a gun. Officials said he has a criminal record that includes arrests and convictions for burglary."

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