Monday, June 30, 2008

A silver bullet for Obama?

I disagree completely with Jacoby's point here that Obama has changed his mind about gun-control, and that the recent 2nd Amendment ruling by the Supreme Court makes it easier to vote Democrat. Obama has reversed himself dozens of times in this past year when confronted by evidence that his original positions were untenable. This doesn't mean that, in his mind, he has really changed his beliefs, and his economic program is still a repeat of the disastrous Carter years.

As far as voting Democrat is concerned, those wishing to exercise their rights usually find that, in Democrat-controlled states (like Massachusetts and Rhode Island), an informal system has been put in place to stop you, even if the law is on your side. In Massachusetts you must get a permit to have a firearm in your own home, but no-one ever seems to know where the forms are, and officials routinely miss appointments to meet with you to discuss firearms permits.

I had a permit to carry in Massachusetts for over 30 years (issued before the gun-control people took over completely) with no incidents. I had to give it up because I now live in Florida and in Rhode Island. I easily gained a carry permit in Florida , but in RI, after passing all the tests and other requirements, I was denied because I couldn't "demonstrate a need according to the statute".

It is wonderful that the decision by the Supreme Court has opened up opportunities for the NRA and other groups to challenge many existing gun laws, but it doesn't mean that the gun-control proponents have given up. They will just get even more sneaky.

A silver bullet for Obama?
By Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe June 29, 2008

WHEN IT comes to gun control, the Democratic Party is a house divided against itself. That helps explain Barack Obama's dizzyingly inconsistent positions on District of Columbia v. Heller, the landmark Second Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court last week.

As a candidate for the Illinois Legislature in the 1990s, Obama had supported legislation to "ban the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns," so it wasn't surprising that he endorsed the gun ban being challenged in Heller while campaigning for president. In November, for example, his campaign told the Chicago Tribune that "Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional." In February, when a questioner during a televised forum said, "You support the D.C. handgun ban," Obama readily agreed: "Right."

By March, however, his spokesman would no longer say whether Obama considered the gun ban constitutional, and when the senator was asked about it in April, he refused to give a clear answer on the grounds that "I obviously haven't listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence." Still, when the court issued its 5-4 ruling last Thursday, Obama claimed that his views had been vindicated. "I have always believed," his statement began, "that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms." Then again, reported the Associated Press, "the campaign would not answer directly . . . when asked whether the candidate agreed with the court."

This is not just the customary political choreography whereby Democratic presidential candidates dance to the left during the primary election season, then pirouette back to the center for the general election. (Republicans twirl the other way.) Guns are a particularly thorny issue for Democrats, who have long been the party of gun control, and whose strong left wing detests firearms and looks down on the "gun nuts" who enjoy them. Liberal Democrats have generally seen the Second Amendment as an embarrassing constitutional anachronism. And they nurse a singular loathing for the National Rifle Association.

The problem for Democrats is that such views are well beyond the American mainstream. There are as many as 283 million privately owned firearms in the United States, and nearly half of all US households own at least one gun. Even before the Supreme Court ruling, a large majority of Americans - 73 percent, according to Gallup - believed the Second Amendment guaranteed the right of private citizens to own guns. Nearly 7 in 10 opposed any law making handgun possession illegal.

Given such widespread pro-gun sentiment, a political party inclined to demonize guns can expect to alienate many voters. In 1994, within months of enacting a ban on assault weapons, Democrats lost their majorities in both houses of Congress. Their "inability to consistently win elections in places where gun shops outnumber Starbucks," the respected political analyst Charlie Cook wrote in National Journal during their long exile, "is a big reason the party controls neither the House nor the Senate."

Some Democrats have worked to shed the image as the party of gun-haters. Running for president in 2004, Senator John F. Kerry made a point of donning orange and hoisting a shotgun for a very public day of duck hunting in southern Ohio. When Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana ran for reelection two years later, their TV ads depicted them using guns. More than 60 Democrats were endorsed by the NRA in the midterm election of 2006 - the election, perhaps not coincidentally, in which their party regained control of Congress.

Still, for many Democratic liberals, the antigun animus is reflexive. Senators Ted Kennedy and Dianne Feinstein wasted no time deploring the court's ruling in Heller last week; Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago denounced it as "very frightening." Over the years, such attitudes have been a political boon to Republicans, helping them paint Democrats as out-of-step elitists who hate something millions of Americans love. John McCain's statement hailing the decision pointedly referred to Obama's infamous statement that Middle Americans "cling to guns or religion" when "they get bitter."

Ironically, the impact of last week's decision may be to deprive the GOP of a valuable political weapon. By ending the debate over whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to own guns, the justices have just made it safer for gun owners to vote Democratic. McCain cheered the court's ruling, but Obama may prove the biggest winner of all.


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At 9:30 AM, Anonymous mason said...

I have to commend Obama for his committment for change...he is an expert at that...he changes his mind about what he said yesterday today and he will tomorow..he is the changiest character that has hit the political scene in all of its history...a man who stands for everything..stands for nothing at all

At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Truth spoken!!


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