Is Owning a Gun More or Less Embarrassing Than Hiring an Illegal Alien?


Is it significant that the 63 questions would-be Obama appointees have to answer include a query about gun ownership? Question 59, which comes right after one about "any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity" and right before one about the applicant's medical condition, reads:

Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also described how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

Some Second Amendment advocates have taken offense at this question, which appears to be unprecedented and which they think reflects Obama's lack of enthusiasm for gun rights. But an Obama aide told Politico "the intent of the gun question is to determine legal permitting." In other words, just as the questions about "domestic help" do not imply that anyone who has ever paid someone to clean his house can forget about working in the Obama administration, the question about firearms does not mean gun owners are automatically disqualified. Obama's transition team just wants to make sure all legal niceties have been observed, so there aren't any embarrassing surprises.

Although that sounds plausible, there are many other things an applicant might possess that raise issues of legal compliance and of damages to others but are not specifically mentioned in the questionnaire, including cars, boats, pets, swimming pools, and trampolines. The selection of guns out of all the dangerous and/or regulated things people own is telling, I think, and suggests that gun ownership itself might be deemed an embarrassment, at least past a certain threshold. Note that the question assumes no one applying for a job in the Obama administration would own more than one gun. It also assumes gun-owning job candidates would be subject to registration requirements, which apply in only a small fraction of the country.

Here (PDF) is the complete list of questions.