What’s Barack Obama’s position on gun control? That’s a good question. The fact is, his stance seems a little confused.
So I decided to do a little research all on my own.
I checked out the Obama Campaign website, and I found the following blurb when is comes to hunting:
Protect Gun Rights
Millions of hunters and shooters own and use guns each year. Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates and individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns.
I also found the following under the heading “Gun Violence in Cities“:
Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn’t have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.
Sounds pretty reasonable, right? After all, we don’t want gangs having access to guns, correct? And who needs an Uzi?
Well…the truth about his stance on gun ownership is as consistent as it is clear. Robert Novak wrote a column not too long ago about trying to pin down Barack Obama’s view of the Second Amendment:
Obama, disagreeing with the D.C. government and gun control advocates, declares that the Second Amendment’s “right of the people to keep and bear arms” applies to individuals, not just the “well regulated militia” in the amendment. In the next breath, he asserts that this constitutional guarantee does not preclude local “common sense” restrictions on firearms. Does the draconian prohibition in Washington fit that description? My attempts to get an answer have proved unavailing. The front-running Democratic presidential candidate is doing the gun dance.
On March 24, a reader wrote in an e-mail to The Post that “Obama supports the D.C. law” and demanded a correction. That was based on an Associated Press account of Obama’s Milwaukee news conference asserting that “he voiced support for the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns.” In fact, all he said was: “The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can’t initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang-bangers and random shootings on the street isn’t borne out by our Constitution.”
That leaves Obama unrevealed on the D.C. law. In response to my inquiry about his specific position, Obama’s campaign e-mailed me a one-paragraph answer: Obama believes that while the “Second Amendment creates an individual right, . . . he also believes that the Constitution permits federal, state and local government to adopt reasonable and common sense gun safety measures.” Though the paragraph is titled “Obama on the D.C. Court case,” that specific gun ban is never mentioned. I tried again last week, without success, to learn Obama’s position before writing this column.
Note the part: “[I]n the next breath, he asserts that this constitutional guarantee does not preclude local ‘common sense’ restrictions on firearms.” From my research, Obama is completely consistent with this stated objective, as I will show you just a bit later.
But, even in its most “common-sense” form, any restriction of gun ownership is an abridgement of our Second Amendment rights. And the fact of the matter is that Obama has a certain fondness for legislating lots of restrictions on gun ownership.
The next article I came across was posted on the Politico website, which (in my opinion) conclusively links Barack Obama to a rigid gun control stance:
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has worked to assure uneasy gun owners that he believes the Constitution protects their rights and that he doesn’t want to take away their guns.
But before he became a national political figure, he sat on the board of a Chicago-based foundation that doled out at least nine grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to groups that advocated the opposite positions.
The foundation funded legal scholarship advancing the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect individual gun owners’ rights, as well as two groups that advocated handgun bans. And it paid to support a book called “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.”
In his appeal to gun owners, Obama has not emphasized his own legislative record, which includes supporting a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month. He has blamed his staff for indicating on a questionnaire filled out during his 1996 state Senate bid under his name that he supports banning “the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.”
Intrigued? There’s more:
Obama supported a 2002 amendment to bar the use of federal homeland security funds to seize firearms during states of emergency, while the memo pointed out she opposed it. The memo adds: “Sen. Obama has consistently stated that the Second Amendment contains an individual right and has been consistent in his support of common-sense gun laws that do not abridge that right because it is a matter of defending the Constitution.”
But the Joyce Foundation in 1999 awarded $84,000 to the Chicago-Kent College of Law for a symposium on the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual’s right to bear arms, but rather only a state’s right to arm its militia.
“No effort was made to include the individual right point of view,” its organizer, Carl T. Bogus, a Roger Williams University School of Law professor, wrote in one of several law review articles stemming from the symposium. “Full and robust public debate is not always best served by having all viewpoints represented in every symposium. Sometimes one point of view requires greater illumination.”
The Chicago-Kent Law Review edition that resulted from the symposium has been influential in Second Amendment jurisprudence. It was cited several times in a 2002 federal court decision upholding most of a tough California gun control law on the basis that the Constitution doesn’t protect individual gun owners’ rights. It was also cited in a 2001 federal court decision out of New Orleans that took the opposite view.
The Supreme Court denied review of both cases, but it will address the issue in a forthcoming decision in a closely watched case challenging the D.C. handgun ban.
Obama hasn’t taken a firm stand on the ban or on the case before the high court. “I confess I obviously haven’t listened to the briefs and looked at all the evidence,” he told Gibson during Wednesday’s debate. “As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right.”
During Obama’s time on the Joyce board, though, the foundation gave seven grants totaling more than $2.5 million to a group that wants Congress to take much more proactive action: the Violence Policy Center.
The D.C.-based nonprofit, which calls itself “the most aggressive group in the gun control movement,” for years has argued for a national handgun ban.
In a 2000 study called “Unsafe in Any Hands: Why America Needs to Ban Handguns,” the group concluded that Congress could and should ban handguns nationwide “soon” and allocate $16.25 billion to buy back the 65 million handguns it estimated were then owned by civilians.
The study dismissed as “pure myth” the theory that the Second Amendment bars such strict gun control laws.
The study was funded partly by the Joyce Foundation, said Josh Sugarmann, the center’s executive director. “The Joyce Foundation gives us general support,” he said, though he added that the foundation’s continued funding of his group is primarily for efforts to study the public health effects of gun violence.
That appears to be the purpose of a majority of the 83 gun-violence grants totaling nearly $24 million approved by Joyce’s board from 1997 (the first year for which the foundation has posted its annual report online) through 2002.
But in 2000, the foundation also awarded a $20,000 grant to a publishing group to support Sugarmann’s book, “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.”
And in 2002, Joyce gave $10,000 to a nonprofit group called Handgun-Free America. The purpose of the grant was “to support a student grass-roots gun violence prevention campaign.” But the organization billed itself as “dedicated to ending the handgun epidemic in America through the sensible act of banning private handgun ownership.”
Sugarmann’s group filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the D.C. handgun ban, while Bogus is the lawyer for a group of scholars who also filed an amicus brief taking D.C.’s side in the case. Still another amicus brief supporting the ban was signed by a half dozen anti-gun-violence groups to which Joyce gave 14 grants totaling $3.2 million while Obama was on the board. Joyce’s grants to the groups — Freedom States Alliance, Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence and Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort — were mostly for state-based activities.
Of course, Obama can always say that he wasn’t aware of all these grants, or objected to the grants being made to the aforementioned organization. However, as the Politico points out:
Clauss and Leff remember Obama being very well-prepared and engaged on all issues. But both recall Obama being most active on issues related to welfare reform and expanding employment and educational opportunities for low-income populations.
Neither Clauss nor Leff recollect Obama objecting to, or otherwise discussing, grants related to Second Amendment scholarship or to groups interested in banning handguns nationwide.
“Chances are that I would recall it,” said Leff, adding that she also did program work on gun violence for the foundation. “So I think that would have stuck with me.”
So, what does Obama really believe? Why don’t we let his legislative record in the Illinois State Senate speak for him. Below is a list of bills related to firearms – some of which became law, and others not – in which Barack Obama was either a sponsor or co-sponsor:
SB1318 : Provides that a firearm transferor is strictly liable in a civil action for death, injury, or property damage resulting from the use of a firearm that was unlawfully sold, transferred, or caused to be sold or transferred.
SB1614 : Prohibits the transfer of more than one handgun within a 30-day period. Exempts federally-licensed firearm dealers who purchase handguns as inventory in the regular course of business, the military, law enforcement officials, certain hunters, and other specified persons. Provides that a violation is a Class 4 felony.
SB0048 : Requires an applicant for a firearm owners identification card to sign a release waiving any right to confidentiality and consenting to the disclosure to the Department of State Police of the applicant’s mental health records from any state, the District of Columbia, any other territory of the United States, or a foreign nation for the sole purpose of determining eligibility for a card.
HB2315: Changes the offense of unlawful use of armor piercing bullets to unlawful use of firearm projectiles and includes as firearm projectiles any armor piercing bullet, 50 caliber bullet, dragon’s breath shotgun shell, bolo shell, or flechette shell. Expands the offense of manufacturing, selling, or transferring of bullets represented to be armor piercing bullets to include any shell represented to be a dragon’s breath shotgun shell, bolo shell, or flechette shell.
SB0059 : Allows a law enforcement officer at the scene of a domestic violence incident to take temporary custody of any firearm in plain sight or pursuant to a consensual search.
SB0041 : Provides that all orders of protection must contain a provision requiring the person against whom the order is issued to forfeit all firearms in his or her possession for the duration of the order of protection, regardless of whether that person has threatened to use a firearm or is deemed likely to do so.
SB0051 : Prohibits ownership of firearms by anyone who has ever been convicted of stalking in Illinois or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction.
HB1942 : Provides that any person who forges or materially alters or counterfeits a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card commits a Class 2 felony. Provides that any person who possesses a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card with knowledge that it has been forged, altered, or counterfeited commits a Class 2 Felony.
HB3262 : Provides that, upon recovering a firearm that was used in the commission of any offense or upon recovering a firearm that appears to have been lost, mislaid, stolen, or otherwise unclaimed, a local law enforcement agency shall use the best available information, including a firearms trace when necessary, to determine prior ownership of the firearm.
HB0076 : Provides that the local law enforcement agency shall use the best available information, including a firearms trace, to determine how and from whom a person who is not permitted by federal or State law to possess a firearm gained possession of a firearm (now the provision applies only when the law enforcement agency recovers the firearm from a person under 21 years of age).
HB0227 : Creates the offenses of possession of a stolen firearm and aggravated possession of a stolen firearm. Changes penalties for unlawful use or possession of firearms by felons.
SB1616 : Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act. Provides that an applicant for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card must appear in person before a law enforcement agency and submit positive identification to a law enforcement officer before the issuance of the application to the applicant. Increases the fee for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card from $5 to $10.
SB0550 : Provides that upon recovering a firearm from the possession of anyone under 21 years of age who is not authorized by federal or State law to possess the firearm, the local law enforcement agency shall trace where the person under 21 gained possession of the firearm. Provides that upon completing a trace, the local law enforcement agency shall record its findings on a form prescribed by the Department of State Police and shall forward a copy within 5 days to the Director of State Police.
SB0686 : Provides that it is unlawful to sell or give a firearm to a person who is visibly intoxicated or incoherent or to a person who has been convicted of misdemeanor endangering the life or health of a child. Penalty is a Class 4 felony.
HB3753 : Makes a stylistic change in the reckless discharge of a firearm statute.
SB0397: Requires the Department of State Police to check criminal history record information every six months of every person who has been issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID Card) to determine if that person has been convicted of any offenses that would disqualify him or her from holding a FOID Card. Requires the Department, if the criminal history record information reveals a conviction of a disqualifying offense, to revoke that person’s FOID Card.
SB1065: Deletes the in-state transfer limitation or applicability of the provision that prohibits a person from knowingly transferring or causing to be transferred a firearm or firearm ammunition unless the transferee displays a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card to the transferor.
HB1812 : Expands the offenses of aggravated battery,aggravated battery with a firearm, and aggravated discharge of a firearm to include offenses committed by gang members upon persons who are not gang members, and provides that anyone convicted of aggravated battery with a firearm or aggravated discharge of a firearm and sentenced to a term of imprisonment must serve the entire sentence imposed by the court. Provides that a person who is convicted of first degree murder may be sentenced to death if he or she committed the murder in furtherance of the activities of an organized gang or by his or her membership in or allegiance to an organized gang, and the murdered victim was not a member of an organized gang.
SB0005 : Creates a Project Exile pilot program. Provides that through the program, the Department of State Police, in coordination with local law enforcement agencies, States Attorneys, and United States Attorneys, shall encourage, to the extent possible, the federal prosecution of all persons who illegally use or attempt to use or threaten to use firearms against the person or property of another, in connection with a violation of the Cannabis Control Act or the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, and all person who use or possess firearms in connection with a violation of an order of protection issued under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or in connection with the offense of domestic battery.
SB1334 : Eliminates exemption from the unlawful use of weapons and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon statutes that permits a person who has been issued a currently valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card to transport or possess an unloaded firearm that is enclosed in a case or other container that is not a firearm carrying box or shipping box. Provides that the penalty provisions of the offense of unlawful purchase of a firearm apply to attempting to purchase firearms in violation of the statute.
SB1336: Requires an applicant for a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card to appear in person at a local law enforcement agency, and before receiving an application, present positive evidence of identification to a law enforcement officer. Requires the applicant to submit to fingerprinting and to a photograph. Provides that a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card issued on after the amendatory Act is valid for a 3-year rather than a 5-year period.
HB3075 : Provides that it is a Class X felony to commit a theft of a firearm, cannabis, a controlled substance…
The fact is, it seems that his affinity for laws that restrict firearms seem to target his biggest supporters (that would be those who are in possession of cannabis and controlled substances).
Some of these seem rather harmless, or even beneficial – like going after gang members who harm non-gang members. Others, specifically allowing the police to seize your guns if they are in plain view, or going after you if your gun isn’t in an “approved” container, look rather odious. The fact is, Obama has added his name on some really invasive gun control legislation.
What the Obama Campaign claims is “common sense” control measures, appears to be heavily restrictive. Furthermore, he was for having law enforcement individuals taking fingerprints and photos of people who simply applied for a permit to own a gun. As if they were some sort of criminal for doing so.
Yet, ask him about measures to require people to show photo ID at a polling place (to prevent voter fraud), and you’ll undoubtedly watch Obama and his supporter’s heads spin around ala The Exorcist.
Furthermore, according the legislation Obama supported, you could be charged with a crime for possessing a firearm if you are merely accused of domestic battery, or have a protection order put out against you. It has been WELL documented just how much domestic battery and protection orders have been abused in many cases, especially in a case of a bitter divorce.
The other piece of obnoxious legislation was the bill that restricted gun sales or transfer to one for every thirty days. Just a note: people who traffic in illegal weapons are already breaking the law. So they are unlikely to give a flying crap that they’ve violated a restriction that limits their illegal activities to one gun per month.
But what I uncovered when looking into Obama’s record was just how many pieces of gun legislation the man attached his name to. It was harder to find firearms legislation that he didn’t have role in sponsorship. This fact alone is quite telling.
All in all, given some of the lies Obama has told over the last few years (and after the most recent debate), there is more than enough evidence here to doubt his truthfulness when it comes so his beliefs in the sanctity of the Second Amendment.
Sorry, but I think he’s lying.