Obama and Guns

I just finished reading most of the posts to which Glenn Reynolds so helpfully linked on this topic. I also read many of the comments in response to those posts. The gist of the discussion is that pro-Obama people say Obama doesn’t really oppose the right to arms, while pro-gun people say he does.

I don’t understand why anyone would doubt the validity of the pro-gun people’s argument.

If Obama supported gun rights, many pro-gun people, even Republicans, would support him, because many pro-gun people are single-issue voters on this topic and Obama’s opponent has a spotty record on gun rights. (The NRA and pro-gun rights voters have supported pro-gun Democrats in many elections.) Also, if Obama really supported the right to arms, it’s likely that many additional Republican, libertarian and independent voters would support him because conservatives and libertarians often interpret a politician’s support for the right to arms as a reliable proxy for that politician’s support of other individual rights. This point seems especially strong now, since many Republican voters distrust Obama’s opponent on free speech, business regulation and other big-govt-vs-individual-rights issues.

So on the one hand we have single-issue pro-gun people opposing Obama on guns, and on the other hand we have people who are primarily Obama partisans, not gun people, arguing that pro-gun people should trust Obama on guns. Who should we believe?

UPDATE: Via John Lott, this statement from Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The following
was released today by the Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA):
“One of the most blatant lies ever to come from a politician’s mouth,”
is how the ISRA is characterizing a recent statement by U.S. Senator Barack
Obama. Speaking in the latest issue of “Field & Stream,” Obama claims that
Illinois sportsmen know him as an advocate for their rights. On the
contrary, Obama’s voting record while a state senator clearly indicates
that he has nothing but contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner.
“Any sportsman who counts Barack Obama as one of his friends is
seriously confused,” said ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson.
“Throughout his tenure in the Illinois Senate, Obama served as one of the
most loyal foot soldiers in Mayor Daley’s campaign to abolish civilian
firearm ownership. While a state senator, Obama voted for legislation that
would ban and forcibly confiscate nearly every shotgun, target rifle and
hunting rifle in the state. Obama also voted for bills that would ration
the number of firearms a law-abiding citizen could own, yet give a pass to
the violent thugs who roam our streets. And, inexplicably, Obama voted four
times against legislation that would allow citizens to use firearms to
defend their homes and families.”
“Let us also not forget that Obama served as a director of the Joyce
Foundation,” continued Pearson. “While on the Joyce Foundation board, Obama
funneled tens of millions of dollars to radical gun control organizations
such as the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Violence
Policy Center.”
“If Senator Obama considers his legislative record and his
philanthropic endeavors to be acts of advocacy on behalf of sportsmen’s
rights, then I submit that the Senator is seriously confused as well,”
asserted Pearson.
“Nobody knows Obama’s record on guns better than I do, and it’s rotten
to the core,” said Pearson. “I’ve been involved in Illinois politics nearly
as long as Obama has been alive. In that time, I have never encountered a
legislator who was more hostile towards or more disinterested in
sportsmen’s rights than Barack Obama.”

UPDATE2: John Lott’s recent column on this topic is well worth reading.

UPDATE3: An anonymous commenter contributes this insight:

It’s not that guns are a ‘one-issue vote’ for voters, it’s that a candidate that’s likely to respect the second amendment is also likely to respect the others in the Constitution as well. Considering how Obama is ALREADY treating the 1st amendment, coupled with his take on the 2nd, I would say that it’s a fair, if not perfect, assessment.

14 thoughts on “Obama and Guns”

  1. Fred Lapidies,

    Do you realize that you almost never address the topic on hand but rather almost always try to deflect the conversation towards something you want to talk about. In my experience, this is a red flag for someone who realizes they can’t defend their point of view on the topic at hand.

    So, pony up Fred, do you think that Obama really respects gun rights? Do you think it is really acceptable for him to suppress political speech critical of him?

    Time to be a man, Fred.

  2. Fred,

    I’ll go beyond what Shannon said. Not only do you almost never address the topic on hand, but you almost always try to spike some point that you think invalidates the OP, regardless of its actual validity, relevance, or importance.

    In this case, the OP said quite clearly that “Obama’s opponent has a spotty record on gun rights”, a comment which supported the rest of his argument: if Obama was even remotely pro-gun, McCain’s spotty record would be earning Obama some serious support. Yet you seem to think that, by bringing up McCain’s spotty gun-rights record, you can somehow invalidate the entire argument. I can’t comprehend what sort of confusion must be going on in your mind…

  3. Oh, I think Fred and others like him know perfectly what they’re doing. It’s a tried and true tactic of the Stalinist Left in any situation where they don’t have enough power to physically silence their opponents. Much like the Obama lawyer thugs attempting to strong-arm broadcasters into not running ads talking about Obama’s anti-Second Amendment stances.

    One might shudder to imagine what life will be like should Obama win and be able to sic govt lawyers on those who say things he doesn’t like.

  4. Note that the GOA press release that Lapides cites came out when other Repubs might win the nomination, when they were trying to swing the nomination to a more pro-gun candidate.

    Yes, GOA thinks that McCain isn’t all that good on guns, but it thinks that Obama is significantly worse. And, when it comes to Palin vs Biden, it’s no contest.

    In other words, it is fundamentally dishonest to take GOA’s McCain statement as a reason to trust Obama.

  5. McCain only earns a C+ from the NRA. I’m not thrilled by that by a long shot, but it’s a damn sight better than the Savior’s F. Plus McCain will know to dance with who brung ‘im if he wins in November.

  6. Bear in mind that McCain took a hit on his NRA rating due to McCain-Feingold. He’d probably be a “B” without that.

    And, in fairness, the GOA is a little crazy. They’ve used hyperbole a little too much. (I don’t even know why their press release talks about John McCain’s stance on non-gun issues.) They’re like PETA without naked chicks.

  7. This post made a lot of sense to me. I will be voting against Obama (note: not for McCain) because Obama is a doctrinaire socialist, which is to say that he believes that the world (not just this country) should be run by (and for the benefit of) people who agree with him, or more precisely by people that he agrees with. I have no interest whatsoever in what the candidates say during the campaign. There is no guarantee that this country will continue to be the land of the free. I have maybe another 30 years to go, and I’d rather not see them spoiled by a bunch of Nazis. It’s as simple as that. (BTW, for anyone who wants to castigate me as an ignoramus, I’ll happily take you on.)

  8. It’s not that guns are a ‘one-issue vote’ for voters, it’s that a candidate that’s likely to respect the second amendment is also likely to respect the others in the Constitution as well. Considering how Obama is ALREADY treating the 1st amendment, coupled with his take on the 2nd, I would say that it’s a fair, if not perfect, assessment.

  9. I don’t own a gun and don’t intend to, but I would never vote for someone who claims the constitution means something other than what it plainly says. If any Obama supporter can give me the slightest shred of evidence that Obama wouldn’t appoint judges, er excuse me, ‘justices’, who would side with DC against Heller without a second thought, I would like to see it. Nothing else matters.

  10. I agree with Moptop.

    I’ve never been around guns and have known more than one really terrible accident (let alone a couple of deaths that it was hard to call “accidental”) when guns were around the house. Nonetheless, I’ve come closer and closer to recognizing that those who ignore the 2nd amendment do not place a sufficient value on self-reliance, personal responsibility, and the lessons history can teach. Most of all, this attitude often goes hand in hand with one that distrusts not only Americans but America, values not only patriotism but appearances, and, of course, values convenient definitions of the Constitution more than the Constitution itself.

    I also don’t give a damn whether people wear flag pins in their lapels or not. I didn’t wear such symbols around 9/11, don’t have bumper stickers on my car, and come from non-demonstrative people. I do, however, question Obama’s authenticity when at the debate he wears such a pin. I’ve heard what he said in the past, I see what he’s doing now: does he think we are so foolish as to think such a pin is important? Does he think we are so foolish as not to know that such a choice was more performance than felt?

    Inauthenticity, like attitudes toward the 2nd amendment, are important gauges of much else.

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