Is McCain Failing to Really Gun for Obama?

Roger Simon at the Politico thinks McCain is keeping one of his best weapons holstered. Simon starts with some conventional gun-rights wisdom that seeming weak on gun rights cost Gore the presidency in 2000, then notes:

....considering that the McCain/Palin ticket is now battling for its life in small town and rural America, you would think the McCain campaign would be out there talking about guns every day......

.....On Sept. 5, in Duryea, Pa., Obama held a town hall meeting and Joan O’Neil rose from the audience and said, “There are rumors going around that …you’re going to take away our guns.”

The press reported that heads nodded in agreement in the audience. (Pennsylvania, which John McCain almost certainly has to win if he is to win the presidency, has the highest per capita National Rifle Association membership in the country.)

Obama gave his standard reply. “I believe in the Second Amendment, and if you are a law-abiding gun owner you have nothing to fear from an Obama administration,” he said. “The Second Amendment is an individual right ... people have the right to bear arms. But I also believe there is nothing wrong with some common-sense gun safety measures.”

But some gun owners don’t appear to be reassured. The Washington Post on Monday reported that while Americans are cutting back on purchasing some items because of a bad economy, purchases of “firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data.”

One reason, the articles says, may be fear “that if Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois wins the presidency, he will join with fellow Democrats in Congress to enact new gun controls.”

But has McCain really exploited this? McCain did make a speech to the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance on Sept. 28, in which he did whack Obama over guns, but the speech did not get a lot of coverage and I don’t recall McCain devoting much time to the issue since.

True, the NRA is running its own ads against Obama, but voters expect that. Where are the McCain ads, lending his voice to this issue?

This article from today's Washington Times surveys some gun-rights activists voices, sounding scared of Obama.

I agree with Simon that McCain would have been smart to play to the gun-rights community and get them nervous about Obama with a bit more avidity. I still don't think it would have turned things around for him. And while it's likely Obama in his heart is as anti-gun-rights as his most fervent opponents fear, I also doubt, with 2010 so close, that anything related to guns on the federal level will be a big priority for his adminstration or a Democrat-run Congress.

My book on the game-changing Heller case, Gun Control on Trial, will be out in just a couple of weeks; look for an excerpt of it in the December issue of reason.

Hat tip: Dan Gifford.

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  • sage||

    If they come for your guns, be sure to give them the ammo first!

    I have been stocking up on ammo. Not because of a probable Obama win. Because I expect ammo prices to keep going up in the future. It's hard to keep and bear arms if you can't afford the bullets.

  • ||

    But I also believe there is nothing wrong with some common-sense gun safety measures.

    Again, Obama demonstrates his genius for semantically null utterances.

    For the aficionado, though, his reference to "gun safety measures" in the context of gun control policy is a revealing non sequitur. This is the code used by hardcore gun controllers to misleadingly describe their gun control agenda. Use of this language is revealing, and is, dare I say, a "dog whistle" to the hardcore gun control set.

  • sage||

    True dat. After all, it's only common sense to place a tax of, say, 25 cents per bullet, to pay for __________________. And look what the innovators in California have done. No one in that state may have a weapon that holds more than ten rounds. Except the police, but they're not part of the problem, right? So again, common sense.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Maybe, just maybe, McCain figures that working the gun thing will lose him as many soccer moms as it will win him deer hunters. Anyway, if having a moose-killin' mama on the ticket doesn't pull them in, what will?

  • Guy Montag||

    Brian,

    Per the discussions on every thread today that was headed by the interracial dating ad, your headline "Is McCain Failing to Really Gun for Obama?" is officially construed by the Leftoid Intelligencia of Reason to be both racist and a threat on the life of the Messiah not-yet-crowned King of America.

    The citation for your community service activity, location and duration to follow the first Guy Fawkes day after this transmission.

  • Kaiser||

    McCain should have come out stronger on the anti-gun issue however it most definitely wouldn't have turned the race around. Most pro-gun people are republican anyways and are already voting for McCain. At best it would have scared some of the more civil liberties minded undecideds McCains way but this late in the campaign it wouldn't do a thing.

  • ETJB||

    McCain does not have a stellar voting record when it comes to 2nd Amendment as a civil liberty issue.

    From what I hear, many Libertarians and Constitution Party members are rather upset that they were snubbed by the NRA and have been making noise about how their respective candidate is really the pro-gun candidate.

    Also, McCain often struggles with the "far right" within the GOP. He knows how to keep a public face when it comes to God, gays, guns, abortion, etc., but that is why he picked Palin (a horrible, horrible choice).

    Social Conservative Christian voters are some what skeptical that McCain is really going to play ball, if you will.

    They want a cheer leader and a ball player and well, McCain has typically been little more then a ball player.

  • Jim Lesczynski||

    The NRA should take out an ad criticizing Obama. Too bad McCain made it illegal for them to do that.

  • ||

    I think that however much Obama might want to confiscate everyone's guns, the newest Democrats in Congress from strongly pro-gun districts would halt any such attempt.

    Taking the right side on the bailout, not gun rights, is what could have made McCain president.

    Never underestimate the power of hit pieces mailed en masse in the final 72 hours -- the ones your opponent simply don't have the time to craft a response to unless they've already anticipated it and had rebuttals already prepared -- but it sure looks like it's over for McCain.

  • ||

    Are laws requiring background checks before purchase common sense gun control or are they bad? I'm just curious as to what the libertarians here think.

    I'll be honest, I've owned handguns and rifles all my life, and my father did too (and his father and so on). But that strikes me as an example of common sense gun control. I might be missing something.

  • Kolohe||

    My take is that historically low crime rates have worked both ways. Painting someone as 'soft on crime' no longer resonates as it did 20 or even 10 years ago. But likewise 'we need to get the guns off the streets that our killing our kids and destroying our communities' also no longer resonates.

    My one sliver of optimism wrt to the drug war is that these same historically low crime rates may provide an opening for 'experimenting' with decriminalization or at least less draconian measures, both of which would be politically impossible if crime is on the rise.

  • SIV||

    The only people I have ever heard who don't think Obama will further restrict gun rights are H&R commenters.Seriously,everyone I actually know with any political knowledge at all thinks he will. This includes a lot of people who own guns and are voting Obama anyways.Some of them are "stocking up" now.

  • sage||

    Are laws requiring background checks before purchase common sense gun control or are they bad?

    NSFAL, but I don't have a problem with background checks. I do have a problem with the five day wait though. In this day and age of instant information we should know in a nanosecond whether a person has a criminal background or not.

  • SIV||

    MNG,

    I'm a Second Amendment absolutist so I do think "background checks" are an infringement.
    I expect the next move is to require background checks for private sales of personal property which is much more of an infringement.
    Even McCain supports that, unfortunately.

  • sage||

    So, SIV, as a 2nd amendment absolutist do you think the people have a right to keep and bear, for example, hand grenades? Just asking.

  • bubba||

    Most gun nuts have already chosen McCain.

    The rest are making excuses that they'll accept gun restrictions "in exchange" for health care.

    There are also probably 12 people who believe what Joe Biden says.

  • Dello||

    purchases of "firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data."

    I don't get it. I can see ammunition purchases being up, but why don't these folks ALREADY own firearms?

  • SIV||

    Sage,

    If they store them properly, yes. I assume there is some legal way to own hand grenades now.
    The Government doesn't own all the hand grenade factories and they have to buy them somewheres.

    What do you think of requiring all intra-state private sales of firearms to be transferred by Federally licensed dealers.

  • shecky||

    McCain came into the election behind the curve when it comes to gun issues. Bringing Palin on board may have brought the lukewarm gun nut SIVs on board. But it's been costly in other areas. To make matters worse, guns have been somewhat taken off the table as far as federal issues are concerned with Heller. For McCain to just now start plugging the gun issue would look desperate and somewhat schizophrenic. If he wanted to push the issue hard, the time is passed.

  • ||

    I don't get it. I can see ammunition purchases being up, but why don't these folks ALREADY own firearms?

    You can never have too many guns.

  • sage||

    What do you think of requiring all intra-state private sales of firearms to be transferred by Federally licensed dealers.

    Well, where I live there is only a bill of sale required. It's a tough call. If I sell you a gun the onus (sp?) is on me to make sure I'm not selling to someone with a felony warrant. Fortunately I don't know anyone like that.

    I don't get it. I can see ammunition purchases being up, but why don't these folks ALREADY own firearms?

    Perhaps they want more. I do too, but it's rather pricey.

  • Zeb||

    If Democrats would lose their insane fear of guns, they would never lose an election again.

  • sage||

    And if your uncle had tits he'd be your aunt.

  • Zeb||

    sage, you've got me there.

    But (and maybe I am just not paranoid enough, I don't know) I really don't see what gun rights or lack of gun rights have to do with anything liberal or conservative. Seems to me that the gun control supporters are mostly just a bunch of pissy pantses who are scared of guns and think that if we could just take away all of them no bad things would happen anymore.

  • Don Mynack||

    "Anyway, if having a moose-killin' mama on the ticket doesn't pull them in, what will?"

    Moose ain't all she's killed!

    http://www.weeklyworldnews.com/celebs/palin-bags-a-bigfoot/

  • ||

    SIV
    Do you oppose background checks for hand grenade purchases?

  • ||

    "If Democrats would lose their insane fear of guns, they would never lose an election again."

    Zeb
    I wouldn't say insane but a lot of liberals that I know that are really pro-gun control are certainly very irrational. They usually have little experience around guns and seem to think they are horribly dangerous things bound to "go off" any second and kill thirty people.

    I would also say that while most gun control folks are Democrats many Republicans are OK with it. It's more of a rural/urban thing (i.e. Bllomberg), though Democrats do predominate in urban areas.

  • ||

    Let's not forget that a fair amount of gun control is pushed by law and order law enforcement types as well.

  • SIV||

    Sage,

    I believe under BATF regs and the laws of the State of Georgia there is no requirement for even a bill of sale.I'm not allowed to sell to a felon or out of state resident but I am not responsible if you are and I didn't know.
    The private transactions I've had were not much different than buying a used lawnmower.

  • SIV||

    MNG,

    Let's not forget that a fair amount of gun control is pushed by law and order law enforcement types as well.

    The NRA says "rank and file" cops overwhelmingly oppose gun control.I'm aware of some who are borderline unlicensed gun dealers.

  • ||

    "Seriously,everyone I actually know with any political knowledge at all thinks he will."

    SIV
    Interesting, and what do your fellow militia-men think about the tyranny of this so called "government currency?"

    Sorry, couldn't resist...

  • kablammo||

    "I assume there is some legal way to own hand grenades now."

    Technically, yes there is a way to do it, but as a practical matter its just about impossible. Most manufacturers of explosives devices won't sell to a civilian for liability reasons or contractual obligations(most US government arms contracts prevent it). Additionally, there's a $200 tax per explosive device, a requirement to have an approved explosives magazine, federal explosives permit, etc.

    And yes, massive stocking up on guns & ammo going on here, especially of those nasty "assault weapons" and high capacity magazines that our soon-to-be glorious leader will want to ban as a "reasonable restriction". It may be for naught, but I'm hardly the type to pass up an excuse to buy more toys.

  • sage||

    Seems to me that the gun control supporters are mostly just a bunch of pissy pantses who are scared of guns and think that if we could just take away all of them no bad things would happen anymore.

    Well, that's true, it just happens to be that the majority of them vote D.

  • ||

    Are laws requiring background checks before purchase common sense gun control or are they bad?

    Your question cannot be answered until some other questions are asked. Some that come to mind are:
    Who is going to do the checking?
    How fast is the checking going to be done?
    What in the purchasers background is being checked?
    How accurate are these sources?
    Who is going to do the assessing of whatever information is being checked?
    To what standards are the results of the background check compared?


    IIRC, Obama was on the board of the Joyce foundation. The Joyce Foundation is one of the primary funders of anti-gun organization. I really should write that the Joyce foundation is a primary funder of groups that wish to restrict civil-rights as recently confirmed by Heller.

  • SIV||

    Why should guns be treated differently than any other property?

  • ||

    Why should guns be treated differently than any other property?

    Good question. I don't need a background check to buy a lawnmower.

  • Guy Montag||

    If they store them properly, yes. I assume there is some legal way to own hand grenades now.
    The Government doesn't own all the hand grenade factories and they have to buy them somewheres.


    They require another expensive federal license, no prohibited property like pot or certain gambling machines.

    All of this "debate", all over again, on this 'blog is done dozens of times per year in Radley Balko posts. The federal government (including the Supreme Court) has defined what weapons that are covered by the Amendment II as those carried by a common Infintryman. So does the discussion around passing and including that language. Seems the grenade deal is a violation, in my mind, of a protected right of the People.

    Crew served weapons, notsomuch.

    Per MayorOmalleySuxs' comment, I totally agree. Will add that fealons should not be prohibited from wearing body armor or owning guns if they are no longer incarcerated.

  • ||

    Liberals, in the Democratic Party sense of the word, have long been gun control advocates. This started in the South as a way to keep blacks in line and spread during Prohibition. Remember the Dems were once the religious, moral, racist party that dominated the Southern states. This began to change with FDR and the New Deal and continued with Kennedy and LBJ as they moved the Democrats from being a Southern to an urban party by buying off the blue collar, union and poor votes through welfare programs. Unfortunately the Corrupt Bargain of the 1876 election opened the way for the Dems to become the pro-Civil Rights party a almost ninety years later and Nixon reinforced this with his so called Southern Strategy in 1968. This flip-flop of party ideology separated gun-control from civil-rights and directly created the wacky at odds civil liberty ideology we have today...illustrated by the ACLUs messed up view on Second Amendment rights.

    Interestingly the first President of the NRA was the 1880 Democratic presidential nominee Winfield Scott Hancock (also one of my favorite Civil War generals). He was both pro-Civil Rights and anti-gun control, as far as I have read, and had he won we may have avoided this odd pariah status of the 2nd Amendment.

  • LarryA||

    But I also believe there is nothing wrong with some common-sense gun safety measures.

    This has the same effect on gun owners as "separate-but-equal" and "poll tax" have on Blacks. And for good reason.

    Are laws requiring background checks before purchase common sense gun control or are they bad?

    It depends on whether the system registers the individual firearm to the purchaser.

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