Brady Campaign Boosts Obama Campaign With Its Seal of Disapproval


The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gives Barack Obama, who the NRA warned us would be "the most anti-gun president in American history," an F for a "first-year record on gun violence prevention" that "has been an abject failure." The group's report (PDF) argues, pretty persuasively, that the president himself (unlike some of his underlings) has dodged the gun issue at almost every opportunity, quietly signing legislation that expanded gun rights, declining to call for gun control after conspicuous acts of violence (or anniversaries thereof), and failing to pursue policies he theoretically supports, such as restoring the federal "assault weapon" ban and imposing a background check requirement on private firearm exchanges.

Although both Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have paid lip service to the former goal, the administration's official line is similar to the NRA's position: that we should be "working to enforce the laws that are on our books" (as White House spokesman Robert Gibbs put it in April) instead of passing new laws. At a February 25 press conference focusing on violence related to the Mexican drug trade, Holder called for reinstating the "assault weapon" ban. A month later, an apparently chastened Holder said he just wanted to "enforce the laws on the books." When CBS news anchor Katie Couric asked about him whether the administration was avoiding the issue so as not to "get the NRA riled up," Holder said, "I look forward to working with the NRA to come up with ways in which we can use common sense approaches to reduce the level of violence that we see."

The Brady Campaign seems to think aggressively pushing gun control would not hurt Obama politically, noting that "Obama won 11 out of 13 states where the NRA ran attack ads on TV against him." But the last thing a Democrat pushing a long list of contentious policies needs is to make a high priority of an issue that has been a big loser for the party's presidential and congressional candidates. In fact, the Obama re-election campaign would be well-advised to highlight the president's F from the Brady Campaign in some parts of the country.

Me on Obama's gun control positions here and here, on Mexico's prohibition-related violence here, and on the electoral lessons Democrats have learned about gun control here. Last January, Brian Doherty concluded that "the Second Amendment is safe under President Obama—for now."