“As those of you who are familiar with my record know, I have consistently made gun control one of my top priorities.”
This is the first of a two-part article on the failings of both presidential candidates where individual rights are concerned.
Let me start this topic by saying that I try very hard to not address politics as an ideologue. It is important to address facts if one wishes to retain credibility, so I want to explain why I believe that a second Obama presidency would be dangerous for gun rights.
First, I should concede that President Obama has very wisely avoided directly attacking gun rights during his first term. He even signed legislation allowing open and concealed carry in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges as well as allowing firearms on Amtrak trains.
But I do not for a minute believe that the president is a supporter of gun rights and his comments following the Aurora, Colorado tragedy support this position. Under intense pressure from anti-gun supporters, President Obama appears ready to return to his Illinois roots where gun control is concerned.
Speaking yesterday to the National Urban League, President Obama made several comments that should deeply concern gun owners. He began by using classic divide-and-conquer techniques with co-called “assault weapons” as the wedge issue. He stated that “A lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals.”
The problem? There is a third choice Mr. President and that is for these sporting rifles to be in the hands of law-abiding citizens. I guess in his mind, we are already in the category of ‘criminals’.
He went on to complain bitterly that “opposition in Congress” had prevented the passage of more restrictive gun laws. Clearly his first-term avoidance of the issue has been based on the realities of re-election and not on his claimed move to the center. He seems to be more than willing to make his second term be true to his early years.
The Early Years
On that note, let’s look at those early years and what he had to say about citizens rights to keep and bear arms and defend their homes and families …
- On December 13, 1999, while just starting his primary campaign against Bobby Rush, Obama spoke at a church in chicago where he laid out an agressive agenda against gun ownership including:
- Increasing federal taxes on the sale of firearms and ammunition by 500%
- Banning all gun stores within 5 miles of a school or a park (effectively banning them nationwide)
- In February of 2001, he told the Chicago Defender that he supports a complete ban on so-called “assault weapons”, handgun registration and rationing of handgun purchases.
- In December of 2003, while running for the US Senate, he answered a questionnaire from the Independent Voters of Illinois. In his response to that questionnaire, he stated that “I would support banning the sale of ammunition for assault weapons and limiting the sale of ammunition for handguns.” In the same questionnaire, he states his support for a complete ban on “assault weapons” and bemoans the fact that a complete ban on handguns is “not politically practicable.”
- In 2003, a 52-year-old Wilmette Illinois resident, was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor violation of the local handgun ban after shooting a home invader. In March 2004, the Illinois Senate passed a bill in response to this case providing that self-defense requirements would be viewed to take precedence over local ordinances against handgun possession. Barack Obama was one of the 20 state senators voting against the measure.
- On February 20, 2004, he told the Chicago Tribune that he supported federal legislation to overturn state concealed carry laws.
- On July 29, 2005, while a Senator, he voted for a Kennedy sponsored amendment that would have banned all full metal jacket surplus ammo in 223 Remington, 308 Winchester, and 7.62×39.
- In July 2007 at a campaign event in Chicago, candidate Obama promised a permanent reinstatement of the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban.”
- On November 20, 2007, he told the Chicago Tribune that he believed the absolute ban on handguns in DC was constitutional.
- On April 7, 2008, he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he continues to oppose concealed carry laws.
Members of the Administration
And that’s not all. The real issue with a sitting president is those he appoints to positions of power in his administration.
- On January 19, 2009 Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder spoke at his confirmation hearing about gun controls he felt would be acceptable in a post-Heller America and mentioned the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” as one such control.
- On February 25, 2009, then-seated Attorney General Holder stated that the Obama Administration would seek to reinstate the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban.”
- On March 25, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out in support of a renewal of the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban”.
- And most recently, the investigation continues into the ATF’s Fast & Furious scandal with Attorney General Holder looking more and more culpable in a scheme which may have been aimed at providing support for gun control efforts rather than actually interdicting illegal purchases.
Appointment of Judges
But the real crux of my argument involves the ability to appoint judges. This is a numbers game and the numbers are truly frightening. During his first term alone President Obama has appointed two Supreme Court justices, 35 Court of Appeals judges, and 139 district court judges.
How does this affect gun rights?
DC v. Heller was only decided by a 5-4 majority. Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito were the majority.
McDonald v. Chicago was only decided by a 5-4 majority. The same 5 conservative justices were the majority. Revealingly, President Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor joined the dissent characterizing the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense as “not fundamental”.
And here are some more numbers that should worry gun owners: Justice Scalia is 76 this year. Justice Kennedy is 75. If either of those justices decides to step down or suffers a health problem during the next four years then you can rest assured that any nominee President Obama puts forward will not vote the right way on the next gun rights case, many of which are already working their way up through the courts of appeal.
On the other side of the coin, Justice Ginsburg is 79 this year and Justice Breyer is 73. If either of these justices were to retire from the court, there would be an opportunity to shore up the slim majority that we currently hold in the Supreme Court.
Executive Orders & Administrative Rulemaking
I could go on and speak about the ability of the President to use executive orders and administrative rulemaking, powers that he has been more than willing to use during his first term. On October 24, 2011, he was addressing a Nevada crowd about Congress’ unwillingness to go along with certain of his proposals. He said “We can’t wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will … I’ve told my administration to keep looking every single day for actions we can take without Congress … and we’re going to be announcing these executive actions on a regular basis.”
A good example of how this might play out in the gun rights arena can already be seen in the efforts of the BATFE to ban importation of certain firearms during his first term.
In March of 2010, the BATFE banned the re-importation of American-made M1 Garands and M1 Carbines which the South Korean government wished to sell back into the U.S. market. In justifying the ban, the Obama Administration stated that they “feared the guns could fall into the wrong hands.”
In the Fall of 2011, the BATFE tried to ban the importation of Russian made Saiga shotguns, claiming that they did not have a “sporting purpose” but was thwarted when Congress added an amendment to one of the 2012 transportation appropriations bills preventing them from going forward with the ban.
Remember … When President Obama’s campaign says that he does not want to ban guns, these examples say otherwise. And I suspect that they are minor compared to what we would see during a second term when there is no re-election pressure.
I will leave you with the words that President Obama spoke to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in March of this year when he thought his mike was turned off, “This is my last election and after my last election I have more flexibility.”
He was speaking about missile defense but make no mistake about it, that flexibility extends to all elements of his agenda. Gun owners should be very concerned that they will be in the crosshairs in a second Obama administration.