Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obama's slippery stand on guns

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign just won't let the gun issue rest. Mr. Obama and his campaign surrogates continue to assure gun owners that he is on their side, and it appears to be paying off. John McCain only leads Mr. Obama among hunters by 14 percentage points, just about half the 27-point lead that President Bush held over John Kerry in 2004. If Mr. McCain had a similar lead, he would be ahead in most polls, particularly in many battle ground states. Yet, despite all the Democratic claims to the contrary, Mr. Obama is undoubtedly the most anti-gun candidate ever nominated by a major party for president.

A couple of weeks ago, Brian Schweitzer, Montana Democratic governor, told national reporters that Mr. Obama "Ain't ever going to take your gun away." An Obama adviser, Stanford Law Professor Larry Lessig, said recently on Hugh Hewitt's national radio show that "I think that he has always been an individual rights person on the Second Amendment." Another advisor, Professor Cass Sunstein at Harvard, told Time Magazine in June: "Obama has always expressed a belief that the Second Amendment guarantees a private right to bear arms." The list goes on.

The day the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s gun ban, Mr. Obama claimed the court's decision merely ratified his own position. He told Fox News he had "said consistently that I believe that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and that was the essential decision that the Supreme Court came down on." So, has Mr. Obama consistently supported individuals' rights to own guns and opposed the D.C. handgun ban? Last November, Mr. Obama's campaign told the Chicago Tribune that "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional." After the Illinois senator's statement supporting the Supreme Court striking down the ban, the campaign quickly disowned the Chicago Tribune quote as a staffer's "inartful attempt" to characterize his position.

Yet, Mr. Obama personally voiced support for the D.C. ban at other times. In February, he did this himself, not something that he could blame on a staffer. ABC New's local Washington, D.C. anchor, Leon Harris, asked Mr. Obama: "One other issue that's of great importance here in the district as well is gun control ... but you support the D.C. handgun ban." Mr. Obama's simple response: "Right." When Mr. Harris said "And you've said that it's constitutional," Mr. Obama again says "right" and is clearly seen on tape nodding his head "yes."

But this is not new. Mr. Obama has a long history of supporting city gun bans. The Associated Press described his 2004 vote on a gun control bill: "He also opposed letting people use a self-defense argument if charged with violating local handgun bans by using weapons in their homes. The bill was a reaction to a Chicago-area man who, after shooting an intruder, was charged with a handgun violation."

A candidate questionnaire shows that Mr. Obama supported a ban on handguns in 1996. In 1998, he backed a ban on the sale of all semiautomatic guns (a ban that would encompass the vast majority of guns sold in the U.S.) In 2004, he advocated banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park (essentially a ban on all guns sold in almost all the states). Possibly, even more importantly, he served on the board of the Joyce Foundation, probably the largest private funder of anti-gun and pro-ban groups and research in the country.

The Obama campaign "flatly denied" the 1996 statement supporting a ban on handguns, blaming it instead on a staffer from his state senate race who they said had incorrectly filled out the candidate questionnaire. But the Politico obtained a copy of the statement and found Mr. Obama's own handwritten notes on it indicating that he had personally checked and corrected answers.

His newfound support for gun ownership raises serious questions; not only where he stands on the gun issue, but also how trustworthy he is. With new legal cases being filed against Chicago's gun ban over the last couple of weeks, will some reporter finally ask Mr. Obama why he has not only never spoken out against Chicago's ban, he actively supported it? The release of the new Democratic National Platform's discussion of "what [gun control] works in Chicago" implies Mr. Obama still supports Chicago's gun ban. The platform also wants to take away so-called "assault weapons." Also unclear is what his position means for who he would nominate to the Supreme Court. Mr. Obama's recent comments to Rick Warren, pastor of the evangelical Saddleback Church, showed he opposed nominating those members of the Supreme Court who voted that the Second Amendment is an individual right.

Mr. Obama doesn't even admit that he has changed his position on guns. In a July interview on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," the senator admitted that there has been a "shift in emphasis" on various issues, but on guns he held firm: "There wasn't a shift there." Mr. Obama's campaign can ill afford the opposition that gun owners showed toward John Kerry. Yet, when did Mr. Kerry ever support a ban on handguns or all semi-automatic guns?


Sarah Palin, a moose-hunting, lifetime NRA member guns for D.C.: "Like many Alaskans, Gov. Sarah Palin is a lifelong hunter and strong proponent of Second Amendment rights. A longtime member of the National Rifle Association, she told USA Today when she was running for governor as a Republican in 2006 that "We hunt as much as we can, and I'm proud to say our freezer is full of wild game we harvested here in Alaska." Her own parents had just returned from hunting caribou when they learned that she had been tapped as Sen. John McCain's running mate. Most Alaskans wouldn't bat an eye at such a lifestyle. (Palin's favorite food? "Moose stew after a day of snowmachining," she told Vogue.) .... Palin publicly applauded the Supreme Court's recent 5-4 ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller that struck down the District's 32-year-old ban on handguns. Obama hedged, stating that he "always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures." His supporters describe Obama's stance on guns as nuanced; opponents call it deliberately vague. Eugene Volokh, a legal commentator and UCLA law professor, described Palin's stance as "very mainstream, while Obama has been cagier."

Wyoming loses gun rights case in federal court : "A federal appeals court in Denver has ruled against Wyoming in a lawsuit over a state law that seeks to allow people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence to regain their gun rights. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that the procedure spelled out in Wyoming law fails to expunge the criminal record of people convicted of domestic violence. The ruling is a victory for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The agency had informed Wyoming that if it persisted in using the state law, that the federal government would no longer accept Wyoming concealed weapons permits as a substitute for instant background checks for gun purchases."

CA: Road rage defense: "The family of a San Diego policeman charged in the off-duty shooting of a woman and her 8-year-old son said Friday the officer and his wife were victims of road rage and called on authorities to drop the charges against him. White's wife, Jacquellyn -- herself a police dispatcher with the Carlsbad Police Department -- was with her husband when the traffic dispute and shooting took place. Speaking publicly for the first time, Jacquellyn White's two sisters and father told reporters they kept quiet because they thought justice would be served and were sure Rachel Silva would be found to be the aggressor and charged with assault with a deadly weapon.... She said Frank and Jacquellyn White were on their way to the grocery store when they were confronted by the 27-year-old allegedly drunken woman. Buckingham said the couple had reason to fear for their lives because Silva, according to the Oceanside police account of events of that night, cut off their car, chased them into a parking lot, screamed and cursed at them, revved her engine, "squealed" her tires, threatened them with her car and ultimately rammed into them. His family contends White identified himself as a police officer and ordered Silva to stop, to no avail, leaving him with no other choice than firing his gun in self-defense to protect himself and his wife. According to Buckingham, White didn't know Silva's son was in the car when he fired his weapon. The family suggested that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis filed criminal charges against White for political reasons, in the wake of the public outcry over the shooting of Chargers linebacker Steve Foley by an off-duty Coronado police officer."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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It has the largest collection of articles about Obama on the least that I have seen.