Obama Spurns Gun Control

Why the anti-gun lobby is disappointed with Obama's first year

Among the many groups that opposed Barack Obama's presidential race, few were more certain or vehement than gun rights organizations. "Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history," the National Rifle Association announced. "Obama is a committed anti-gunner," warned Gun Owners of America.

So it's no stunner that after a year in office, the president is getting hammered by people who have no use for his policy on firearms. The surprise is that the people attacking him are those who favor gun control, not those who oppose it.

Obama's record on this issue has been largely overlooked—except by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which recently issued a report card flunking him on all seven issues it deems important. Said President Paul Helmke, "If I had been told, in the days before Barack Obama's inauguration, that his record on gun violence prevention would be this poor, I would not have believed it."

Had he listened to the candidate in 2008, he would have believed. At a September campaign rally in rural Virginia, Obama declared unequivocally, "I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won't take your handgun away. … There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away."

The Brady Center must have hoped he was being less than honest. And he was: He had no intention of pushing those "common-sense" laws he had previously favored. On the list of issues for which Obama is willing to put himself on the line, gun control ranks somewhere below free trade with Uzbekistan.

So he has proposed nothing in the way of new federal restrictions on firearms. Even the "assault weapons" ban signed by President Clinton—and allowed to expire in 2004—has no visible place on his agenda.

Not only that, he's approved changes that should gladden the hearts of gun-rights supporters, a group that includes me. He signed a law permitting guns to be taken into national parks. He signed another allowing guns as checked baggage on Amtrak. He acted to preserve an existing law limiting the use of government information on firearms it has traced.

Still, the NRA is not rushing to recant. A spokesman admits the president has signed some provisions it favors, but notes that they were attached to legislation he wanted, making them hard to veto. Says Andrew Arulanandam, "He has disappointed us with his appointments," particularly Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, neither a darling of the shooting set.

But those are petty matters given Obama's overall refusal to do anything to advance gun control. On this issue, he took such a strong, clear position during the campaign that he has no room to maneuver. That was not accidental. It was deliberate—the equivalent of burning his ships to eliminate the option of retreat.

In terms of actual policy, rather than his previous record, Obama is a long way from being anti-gun. This is not because he has fond memories of sitting in a deer stand as a lad in Hawaii or of talking shotguns with Dick Cheney. It's because his mother didn't raise a fool.

Like some other Democrats, he may recall that in 1994, after banning "assault weapons," they lost the House for the first time in 40 years. Obama knows that anyone who staunchly favors banning guns won't vote Republican no matter what. But some independents who are protective of their weapons may vote Democratic if that issue is off the table.

Off the table is exactly where he intends to keep it. Last year, 65 House Democrats wrote Holder vowing to "actively oppose" any effort to restore the assault weapons ban. The president has enough trouble getting legislation that enjoys overwhelming support in his party. He is not about to pick a fight with centrist Democrats over gun control.

Opponents of gun control should not rely on Obama's innermost sentiments on the subject. He obviously doesn't cherish the right to keep and bear arms. But for those who favor Second Amendment rights, here's the nice thing about having such a canny politician in the White House: He doesn't have to.

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  • PIRS||

    "Not only that, he's approved changes that should gladden the hearts of gun-rights supporters, a group that includes me. He signed a law permitting guns to be taken into national parks. He signed another allowing guns as checked baggage on Amtrak. He acted to preserve an existing law limiting the use of government information on firearms it has traced."

    There is an old saying: A stopped clock is right twice a day. People who cherish liberty must remain vigilant. If we do not we we loose even more freedoms than we already have.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I do enjoy the idea that we are passing laws that allow people to do things.

  • tic toc||

    Glad to hear that that someone supports Obama on this site.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    One of us just outsarcasmed the other, and I'm not sure which.

  • tic toc||

    I would suggest you outsmarted oneself. It is infinitely less painful for one of your sex.

  • Zeb||

    If things are forbidden now, then the law which changes that will be a law that allows people to do things (legally).

  • ||

    As a note, I am a Free American. I don't need the Congress or any other political body to "pass a law that allows me to do anything".

  • ||

    We shouldn't need laws to allow us to do things that are already our Right's. By doing so it just shows that the Right afforded us all was never valid to the politicians who feel the need to make laws to allow us to do the very same things. You know the one's wiping their asses with the Constitution every day.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    If we do not we we loose lose even more freedoms than we already have.

    FTFY.

    I think most people here would not be upset if we loosen even more freedoms, but they are against losing freedoms.

  • tic toc||

    Pope,I don't think the boys on this site have a problem with loose freedoms, loose women or loose men for that matter.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    No "pardon me while I whip this out" alt-text?

  • Mad Max||

    Such an alt-text would be clearly racist.

  • Pope Jimbo||

    It's twue, it's twue

  • BDBerzerker||

    Mongo like sheriff Bart

  • ||

    Racist would be using ethnic slurs, such as ni(*CHURCH BELL RING*).

  • Nitori Kawashiro||

    If only politicians could leave every issue off the table...

  • Ratko||

    Couldn't have said it better.

  • Warty||

    gun control ranks somewhere below free trade with Uzbekistan.

    Oh no! Uzbeks have drunk my battery fluid!

  • MP||

    It is nice!

  • Max D.||

    "I knew this would happen! Thanks, Giorgy."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btnIRlBidQc

  • Morbo||

    "But for those who favor Second Amendment rights, here's the nice thing about having such a canny politician in the White House: He doesn't have to."

    It's too bad he couldn't be so canny when it comes to healthcare.

  • film development||

    It ain't over yet and I hope he gets health care in the can.

  • Untermensch||

    The round can?

  • film development||

    Untermensch, no, but I am heartened that a clever remark was not lost once again.

  • ||

    No, once Obama signs health care reform into law, it's the rest of us who will get it in the can.

  • film development||

    tic toc|2.15.10 @ 9:43AM

  • Proctologist||

    Just...try to relax. (latex glove snap)

  • josey||

    Mooooon river...

  • the point||

    Passing Obamacare would have been gun control since the CDC seems to think gun violence is a public health issue.

    I'm not sure it takes a canny politician to understand that supporting gun control is a losing position in America.

    Cold dead fingers, baby!

  • health||

    I dont think so.

  • ||

    On this issue, he took such a strong, clear position during the campaign that he has no room to maneuver.

    Given any number of strong positions during the campaign that Obama has either overtly or covertly voided I do not consider that a reason to be confident. Instead I am confident that he understands that taking a traditionally progressive stance on gun policy will alienate 80% of the population in order to appease 20%. The numbers just are not in his favor.

  • Ratko||

    I believe that to be correct Mr. Pareto. Mr. Obama will lose the numbers he needs to feed his narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) if he alienates too many more citizens, at this point he has already 1:1 ratio going, he could find himself facing some troublesome questions. Surely an anti Second Amendment approach at this point would cause an immediate further plunge in his popularity. Presidents are in recent history, more than any politician, made aware of their poll popularity constantly. Another deep dive would probably cause the poor little fellow to go into seclusion so he wouldn't have to face the reality of his situation. Most firearm owners aren't sportsmen, they are concerned about self defense. When it comes to his self image Obama is also very concerned about self defense.

    Nonetheless, I'll give credit where due, President Obama has, for whatever reasons, been up to this point honorable on this issue. Mr. Bush as you may recall desired to extend the assault weapons ban, he just wasn't up to opposing congress on the issue.

    Bush and Clinton were interchangeable equivalents on most issues. I honestly feel people hated him for the wrong reasons.

  • wackyjack||

    Nonetheless, I'll give credit where due, President Obama has, for whatever reasons, been up to this point honorable on this issue.

    I wonder if if has anything to do with Heller and McDonald. On the campaign trail he said a lot of things and was clearly tacking center. When Heller came down, the public largely supported it. Even the nutjobs at Brady seemed to acknowledge the importance of the case. So it made sense not to fight against precedent and public opinion.

    I'd like to think that his subsequent action (and inaction) on gun issues is based on wanting to support the new caselaw. Unfortunately, as Citizens United showed, he doesn't care all that much about constitutionality.

  • Burrow Owl||

    Record breaking firearm sales
    (IIRC 14million)
    over the past year may have had some influence as well.....

  • PIRS||

    +1

  • Bart||

    Hold it! Next man makes a move, the nigger gets it!

  • Cummin' Sense||

    Anyone who opposes gun control ought to be shot.

  • Untermensch||

    Yeah, cause if they can't control their gun, they'll shoot themselves in the foot.

    badabing.

  • Ratko||

    Just keep firearms out of the hands of nutty professors, celebrities, and other gun control psychos and all will be fine. We common citizens can handle population control without their help.

  • film development||

    Ratko, so your for banning guns and abstinence. I never thought of you that way ;-)

  • ||

    I'm for guns, and banning abstinence.

  • Ernie the Bear||

    This is too easy! All we have to do is create a bunch of "gun-free zones", and no one will ever be shot there. Like schools, and what-not.

  • Almanian||

    Have to agree w/PIRS - glad the Pres has left this issue alone, but we must remain vigilant, about this and everything else. I don't trust anyone when it comes to 2nd amendment - so while I'm happy it's an overlooked issue for now, the nannies will be back in the future. Of that I'm certain.

  • Almanian||

    Oh, PS, anything that makes the Brady Bunch fucksticks unhappy gives me joy. Fuck them.

  • suckitupcrybaby||

    They need to impose a politician control for at least 50 years. Confiscate them and throw them in jail.

  • sofa||

    In the video's - After they confiscate them... Don't they run over them with tractors and such?

  • suckitupcrybaby||

    Obama is just playing nice, if things move his way he will be on the gun ban bandwagon.
    www.suckitupcrybaby.com

  • ||

    Personally, I think Obama is the biggest gun salesmen of all time.

    Jess
    www.isp-logging.net.tc

  • Spoonman||

    I...what?

  • nigger balls||

    Stop replying to bots, you Polack.

  • ||

    "that his record on gun violence prevention would be this poor"

    Gee, I'd say his record on "gun *violence* prevention" is just fine.

  • Nash||

    Obama's reluctance to embrace gun control speaks more to his political savvy than his belief system. The issue only hurt both Gore and Kerry in previous elections. Democrats are well aware it's a huge political loser.

  • Spoonman||

    Thanks for summarizing the article.

  • Nash||

    No problem. Let me know when you read it.

  • libertybill||

    Why is he wearing the cowboy hat?

  • ||

    He sure has himself a purty mouth.

  • ||

    Dems realize that gun control probably lost Gore the election in 2000 (insert silly comment about Florida Supreme Court here). I would not be surprised if BO goes after guns after he's re-elected. I think he will be much less pragmatic in a second term. Expect resistance from his own party in congress. Not that their pro-freedom, just that they've seem to have learned their lesson for now.

  • ||

    (insert silly comment about Florida Supreme Court here).

    I meant about SCOTUS. Monday morning fog.

  • ||

    What second term?

  • PIRS||

    "I think he will be much less pragmatic in a second term."

    He sure has not been pragmatic about Health Care Deform so far. Perhaps the gun thing is simply less important to him?

  • Ineed A Drink||

    (insert silly comment about AlmightyJB here).

  • ||

    (insert silly comment about AlmightyJB here).

    AlmightyJB needs a drink too.

  • ||

    Obama is a politician. If he thought banning guns wouldn't hurt him,he would ban them. Since it would hurt him politically,he doesn't. Man has no moral compass. Simply lusts for power and will do all in his power to retain it. A Narcissist with no moral scruples. Even his own beliefs mean nothing to him in his quest for power.

  • Old Mexican||

    You just described pretty much all politicians alive.

  • Old Mexican||

    Last year, 65 House Democrats wrote Holder vowing to "actively oppose" any effort to restore the assault weapons ban.

    Could it be because the previous so-called "Assault Weapon Ban" was construed by the government to convenoently mean a ban on semi-automatic rifles and other forms of civilian defense weapons, which angered many voters including those that sat in the fence?

  • LarryA||

    Plus, when the AWB passed in 1994 "sport rifles" were relatively rare, owned mostly by folks who participated in National Shooting Matches, feral pig hunters, and survivalists. Today dang near every serious gun owner has a couple. Much bigger constituency.

  • Old Mexican||

    I fully respect my neighbor's anti-gun stance by not coming to the aid of him or his family with my guns in case someone enters his home and kills or rapes any of them. I am a good neighbor.

  • Almanian||

    This made me laugh out loud.

  • Comrade Zero||

    I'm sure your neighbor will appreciate that respect should you mistake him for a thief while he's fumbling for his spare house keys.

  • ||

    On this issue, he took such a strong, clear position during the campaign that he has no room to maneuver.

    You mean, like that strong, clear position on not raising taxes on people earning under $250K?

    I call bullshit. The guy is a serial liar, he regards his prior statements as no check on his current actions, and those "common-sense" regulations he talked about could easily have referred to the DC and Chicago near-ban on guns.

  • Almanian||

    I'll go one further and say he's a super-serial liar. Cause this sumbitch can do it with an absolute poker face, one after the other.

    Super serial.

  • ||

    I am not so certain that BO is not going to get behind some "gun control" legislation in the near future. Too many high profile shootings, multiple fatalaties at that (in traditional "gun free" zones of course) for Dems to ignore. They are waiting for public sentiment to coalesce to take it's temperature.

    BO is not a stupid man. He and his adminsitration realize that "gun control" is a loser issue among independents who lean moderate - right; a group who most likley put him in power. Why piss them off early in the game? There are three more years left to craft legislation to choke off your 2A rights at the Federal level; ones backed by Scalia's open door for "reasonable regulation" in Heller.

    But the social engineering agenda of the Administration and the lefty
    Dems has come to a screeching halt ror the time being. Healthcare has stalled and the 2010 elections have given the Democrat Party pause for thought on issues not avidly supported by the centrists of the US. Gun control may play well at a future date among the "needy my Government binky to stay safe" crowd; typically an urban-suburban center-left group.

    If McDonald plays out in SCOTUS in favor of Chicago, then look out! Keep your powder dry, folks, because Congress, with the full backing of the Administration will go "high and hard" on thier favorite targets - "assault rifles", "high capacity handguns", etc.

  • ||

    I had a guy at a gun show a month ago telling me that Obama was going to come into my home and tax me $50 on every gun I'd purchased through an FFL. The main reason I didn't argue with him was because he was partially deaf and it would have involved shouting.

    People just cannot believe the evidence, no matter how clear it is. They won't even believe the NRA, apparently.

    I'm still waiting for reality to set in so the price of guns and ammo will drop back to pre-election (ie., sane) prices.

  • LarryA||

    The main reason Obama has shelved gun control plans is that a third of the Democrats in Congress are voting pro-gun.

    Those Democrats in Congress are voting pro-gun because they know that's what their constituents demand. Remember, 80% of the U.S. Senators come from right-to-carry states.

    The times they are a-changin.

  • Miller||

    Glad to know Reason is still apologizing for this lying scumbag. Obama is the ultimate socialist and enemy of personal freedom, and nothing he says can be trusted. You have been warned.

    If it's between your hero Obama and your favorite scapegoat Sarah Palin in 2012, who will you choose? If you choose Obama, you are not a libertarian. You are socialist scum.

  • ||

    I want to pose a challenge to all readers of this comment. Go to http://mittromneycentral.com/r.....greatness/ and listen to some of the clips from Mitt’s upcoming book. Once you have listened to a clip or two, then tell me how Mitt Romney wouldn’t be 100x better than Obama.

    As a side note, just wait to see how little media attention the left gives Mitt’s book compared to Sarah’s. Mitt’s entire book and even name is an attack on liberalism and progressism, but I’m willing to bed the lefties will try to sweep it under the rug because they don’t want people to hear what Mitt has to say. Mitt articulately and intelligently rips them to shreds and he scares them to death. The left’s best hope is for Mitt to lose the GOP nomination in 2012.

  • PIRS||

    At this point in history I am unwilling to vote for someone for President of the United States who, as governor of a state, signed into law a bill that imposed socialized medicine on the people of an entire state. I could easily see if a future President Romney had a majority of supporters of socialized medicine in both houses of congress the pressure on him to sign some sort of bill would be enormous. The charges of hypocrisy themselves would be pressure. I can just hear the chants “Give all Americans what you gave Massachusetts!”

  • the point||

    "Mitt’s entire book and even name is an attack on liberalism and progressism"

    Mitt's entire career is an attack on ideological consistency. His audio subsystem is streaming conservative right now, but what happens when he gets into office and his pollsters edit his playlist? How can anyone trust that he will be true to anything he says or writes?

  • the point||

    "tell me how Mitt Romney wouldn’t be 100x better than Obama"

    Tell me how Fidel Castro wouldn't be 100x better than Obama.

    "just wait to see how little media attention the left gives Mitt’s book compared to Sarah’s"

    Are you suggesting the lefty media was required to make Palin's book a success? If that is true than how come most of the recent successful political books are from the right? Why would the lefty media promote so many books of their political adversaries?

    "Mitt articulately and intelligently rips them to shreds and he scares them to death. The left’s best hope is for Mitt to lose the GOP nomination in 2012."

    If the left is afraid of Romney, why isn't it in the same kind of panic about Mitt as it is about Palin?

    I don't know how much the Romney people are paying you to promote him, but clearly it is too much.

  • Miller||

    Go away, troll. Romney is socialist Taxachussets garbage. The only true libertarian in play right now is Palin.

  • ||

    I find it pretty funny that the gun control advocates are in a twist about Obama's gun policy. He stated repeatedly that he was going to take a "hands off" approach, and so far he has done just that. Whatever other failings the man might have, he would have to be blind not to see that he attracted some independent supporters in the election. He must realize that gun control measures would be political suicide. Nice to see a Democrat that has finally figured this one out.

  • ||

    This is a very interesting and thought provoking article. All in all, very good.

    Only one item. The author stated that Obama's "mother didn't raise a fool."
    This is incorrect, his mother was off and gone out of the USA. His GRANDMOTHER didn't raise a fool, and all together did an outstanding job of raising him!

  • ||

    The only true libertarian in play right now is Palin Ron Paul.

    FTFY

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Maybe Obama's relatively young age has some influence too.

    The Boomer generation of progressives actually believed in their ability to ban legal gun ownership in the USA. Sort of an ideological baggage from the 60s.

    But the younger generation of Democrats grew up in the USA where gun owners were on the offensive, not defensive, re their rights, and their ranks swelled every year (together with the # of shall-issue states); so they do not consider this option realistic.

  • ||

    As a politician of all states now he is backing off the gun control. As a politician in Chicago I believe he voted 100% for any and all gun laws and restrictions they came up with. So he is a gun banner at heart but only when he knows he can get away with it. On the National stage he knows that shit won't fly, but given enough time I am sure he will be Hoping to Change that too!

  • ||

    Doesn't anyone remember when BHO and Holder floated the idea of additional gun regulation, or reinstatement of the fraudulent AWB??

    Reid and Pelosi both had to make statements that existing gun laws should be enforced, as opposed to creating new laws or bringing back AWB.

    If anyone thinks Barry is Pro gun, or even neutral, you're crazy.

    I don't think Reid and Pelosi are Pro gun either. They just know they can't get any support for it, so it's not worth the headache - at the moment.

  • ||

    Can Obama get a gun control bill through Congress today; no. Would he try if he thought it would pass; hell, yes. In the mean time, he is moving forward a UN proposal that Bush refused to support.

    Obama has changed US policy regarding the United Nations Small Arms Control initiative. He has now agreed to participate in what is still a draft proposal that would require the maintenance of a database of all firearm transaction:

    From the United Nations Security Council, Report of Secretary-General, 17 April 2008:

    Marking and tracing
    12. If national law enforcement officials were able to trace small arms back to their last legitimate owner, who might then be held accountable, this would constitute an effective measure against the illicit trade in small arms and the diverting of weapons to the illicit market. For that purpose, it is essential that the weapon be marked upon production and import and that appropriate records be kept. Also existing stocks should be marked. Although many weapons are marked when produced and some when imported, international cooperation in marking and tracing of small arms is in its infancy. ##

    If the US signed onto such as agreement, it would still have to be approved by Congress...which is not very likely today and will become less so come November.

    But to say that Obama does not support gun control because he said so in a campaign speech is surprisingly naive. If he could, he would. He is biding his time. As Rahm Emanuael said "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yeA_kHHLow

  • Fun Bob||

    While true that Obama has not pushed to enact any new regulations against firearms and firearms owners. His campaign web site did say he was in favor of making the odious and defunct "assault weapons ban" permanent. In fact, this statement of support for the AWB is still up on his web page (scroll down to "Address gun violence in cities"):
    http://www.barackobama.com/iss.....mpaign.php

    Eric Holder has said that Obama will bring back the AWB:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Politics.....amp;page=1

    However the Obama administration has made an even sneakier attack against gun buyers and the gun culture by launching a FCPA sting against virtually the entire firearms industry at the SHOT show this past January. He is letting the DOJ do his dirty work for him to hurt the Second Amendment community not to mention the global firearms industry and keep his hands clean in the matter.

  • ||

    Of course the NRA is in no hurry to recant. Business can't be better.

    But it's not Obama you need to afraid of. It's the corporations and the über-rich who will end up making slaves of the "little people", keeping them happy with wimpy beer, reality television and fatty foods.

    Bread and Circuses.

    And you worried about Obama. LMAO!

  • ||

    Oh' That's just brillant we're having a bad time with economy as is and someday want's to chop a 7 billion dollar annual hole in it again.Besides the constitution will not allow it. Is this jerk even American? If they git rid of hand guns a personal firearms how are we going to protect ourselves. authorities can't make it to a incident to prevent it's occurence anyway I wwould like to that personal option maintained. Or make can we force force the government to pay for the losses cause by such stupidity.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no joke.

  • Armed Citizen||

    Keep up the good work Mr.Obama. As far as assualt weapons like the M4 - you cannot say they are to only kill people. Go out with your security detail some weekend and blast off a few hundred rounds (You will have so much fun, promise)- Join the NRA if you havent already. Dont listen to these nanny nail biters who believe mainstream television. The gang bangers are a problem for sure but banning any gun is wrong in America. Why dont we fix the problem in the inner cities rather then take everyones gun rights away. It starts with shelter, food, transportation then education. Two words Welfare Reform. Lets fix the broken system folks. Drug testing the moms, social workers that meet monthly and really follow up and answer the "why" questions. They either find a job or get an education this is our money the tax payers so we have a say. Cut everyone off welfare by 2012. Start a new application process. Lets rebuild our welfare system. No more handouts.
    There will always be drugs & violence but we can limit that with education. Its not the guns fault its the broken system. The mentally ill probably cant afford the help or medication they need or dont realize they need help until its too late but they are the exception its pretty rare so lets focus on the Welfare professional bums that grew up learning how to work our welfare system for a handout getting hooked on crack and oops my sons a gang banger - lets ban guns. duh.

  • dee||

    sont bann guns

  • Gun Carrier||

    Why would we bann gun we have aright to bare arms

  • mbt shoes clearance||

    good

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  • fat loss||

    I totally agree. Wish there were more people who see things this way. Thank you! also I have a blog about fat loss and burning fat, hope that we can exchange.

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