Much to the surprise of many, President Obama’s first year in office has not featured a push for new gun control legislation. In fact, not only has he not pushed for new legislation, he has actively resisted calls by gun control groups while signing legislation allowing open and concealed carry in National Parks and Wildlife Refuges as well as allowing firearms on Amtrak trains.
In fact, the Brady Campaign is so up upset with President Obama that they rated him an ‘F’ on their annual report card. In a report issued on January 18th of this year, they noted that in just one year, President Obama has “signed into law more repeals of federal gun policies than in President George W. Bush’s eight years in office.” I must admit that this sentence in their report brings a huge smile to my face every time I read it!
Earlier today, I was speaking with a reporter about this happy state of affairs and was asked the following question:
“Does this mean that those gun-owners who feared that the President would push gun-control were simply paranoid?”
My answer: “Of course not!”
As the Brady report also notes, as a candidate, then-Senator Obama spoke approvingly of a number of gun control proposals. The logical inference to take from his campaign speeches was at least a willingness to consider the radical gun-control agenda of the Brady Campaign.
But then the Supreme Court handed down their landmark ruling in Heller while states continued to liberalize their gun laws at an astonishing rate. As gun ownership and carry became increasingly a normal part of society, President Obama, astute politician that he is, turned his back on what was clearly a losing proposition.
Let’s take a quick look at how President Obama’s approach to federal gun control has evolved:
- In July 2007 at a campaign event in Chicago, candidate Obama promises a permanent reinstatement of the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban.”
- 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”.
At the end of March, 2009, gun owners were completely justified in fearing that the Obama Administration was planning for gun control to be a major element of their domestic agenda.
But then …
- Following Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech, Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was quick to clarify that President Obama had no plans to pursue a renewal of the ban and instead would seek to better enforce existing laws.
- In April 2009, a number of citizens in states where it was legal for them to do so openly carried their legal firearms at Presidential events. Press Secretary Gibbs defended these citizens by saying “People are entitled to carry weapons outside such events if local laws allow it. Those laws don’t change when the president comes to your state or locality.”
Clearly, President Obama and the Democratic Leadership recognized what gun owners have known all along; gun owners are as diverse as America and loyal Democrats wish for their Second Amendment rights to be protected just as do Republican and independent gun owners.
President Obama’s gun rights transformation is proof, not of a change in his core beliefs, but of a change in America itself as gun rights escapes the historical bounds of hunting and becomes mainstream. In order to maintain the momentum of this trend, it is incumbent upon those of us who believe first-and-foremost in gun rights, to continue to reach out to gun owners of all political and ideological persuasions and welcome them with open arms.