Obama And Romney On Gun Control

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 3 months ago

There seems to be no end to the articles, discussion threads and posts pointing to the fact that Obama has not issued any new firearms laws since his administration took over in Washington.  This cynical post is but one more example.  True enough, Romney, as I have pointed out, has a bad reputation with second amendment advocates like me.  So when Romney recently addressed the NRA, it leaves the door open for charges of duplicity and – let’s go ahead and say it – flip flop.

Mitt Romney drew a warm reception from the National Rifle Assn. on Friday as he attacked President Obama for “employing every imaginable ruse and ploy” to restrict gun rights, which Romney pledged not to do if elected in November …

“In a second term, he would be unrestrained by the demands of re-election,” Romney told a crowd estimated at 6,000 in the cavernous Edward Jones Dome. “As he told the Russian president last month when he thought no one else was listening, after a re-election he’ll have a lot more, quote, ‘flexibility’ to do what he wants.  I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but looking at his first three years, I have a very good idea.”

Referring specifically to the right to bear arms, Romney said: “If we are going to safeguard our 2nd Amendment, it is time to elect a president who will defend the rights President Obama ignores or minimizes. I will.”

But there is this:

Even before Romney’s speech, the Obama campaign hit back with a statement attacking the presumptive GOP nominee, along with a hefty file of news clippings intended to show that he had a checkered history on gun rights.

“The president’s record makes clear the he supports and respects the 2nd amendment, and we’ll fight back against any attempts to mislead voters,” said campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt. “Mitt Romney is going to have difficulty explaining why he quadrupled fees on gun owners in Massachusetts then lied about being a lifelong hunter in an act of shameless pandering.  That varmint won’t hunt.”

Again, true enough. Romney has some explaining to do on the campaign trail.  But understanding why Romney is speaking before the NRA and Obama is not requires only that one understand the people with whom Obama has surrounded himself.  The President cannot pass laws, but the President can do two things that are unique to the office.  He can appoint judges, and he can fill positions in the executive branch of government.

Forgetting for a moment scandals such as Fast and Furious, there are four individuals that define Obama’s views of firearms and the second amendment.  First, let’s consider Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the Supreme Court opinions in McDonald v. Chicago was the dissenters’ assault on District of Columbia v. Heller. Not only did Justice Stephen G. Breyer vote against extending the Second Amendment to state and local governments, he also argued forcefully and at length for overturning Heller and, therefore, for turning the Second Amendment into a practical nullity. Ominously, Justice Sonia Sotomayor joined the Breyer dissent – contradicting what she told the U.S. Senate and the American people last summer.

Regarding the key issue in McDonald – whether the 14th Amendment makes the Second Amendment enforceable against state and local governments – Justice Sotomayor resolutely refused to tell the senators how she might vote. So in voting against incorporating the Second Amendment, Justice Sotomayor was not inconsistent with what she had told the Senate. But regarding Heller, her actions as a justice broke her promises from last summer.

The Breyer-Sotomayor-Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissent urged that Heller be overruled and declared, “In sum, the Framers did not write the Second Amendment in order to protect a private right of armed self defense.”

Contrast that with her Senate testimony: “I understand the individual right fully that the Supreme Court recognized in Heller.” And, “I understand how important the right to bear arms is to many, many Americans” …

To the SenateJudiciary Committee, Justice Sotomayor repeatedly averred that Heller is “settled law.” The Associated Press reported that Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat, “said Sotomayor told him during a private meeting that she considers the 2008 ruling that struck down a Washington, D.C., handgun ban as settled law that would guide her decisions in future cases.”

Next, consider Obama’s nominee for head of the ATF, Andrew Traver.  John Richardson does a good job of examining the larger aspects of the Traver nomination within the context of his history.  But the single most telling thing about Andrew Traver is his work with the Joyce Foundation, and specifically, his positions in the report entitled Taking A Stand: Reducing Gun Violence In Our Communities.  Among the other onerous regulations on firearms manufacturers and owners, they would require ballistic fingerprinting of all firearms, otherwise called “microstamping.”  But the single most bracing position taken by this study group has to do with federal oversight of the firearms manufacturing industry.

Congress should enact legislation to allow federal health and safety oversight of the firearms industry.

Unlike other consumer products, domestically manufactured firearms are not subject to any design standards to reduce risk to the user or protect the safety of the general public and those sworn to protect them. Moreover, unlike other consumer products, no federal agency is empowered to require a remedy in the case of a defectively designed or manufactured firearm.

The lack of health and safety oversight is particularly worrisome given the manufacture and sale of firearms that pose a unique threat to law enforcement and the general public, such as high-caliber handguns that can penetrate bullet-resistant vests, anti-personnel military-style assault weapons and .50 caliber sniper rifles that can penetrate armor plating from a mile away.

This oversight and regulation would involve the Centers for Disease Control, ATF, Justice Department and other federal organizations.  However controlling and oppressive this would be, the third example that should interest us involves Obama nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Caitlin J. Halligan, who in her tenure as Solicitor General of the State of New York, attempted to hold firearms manufactures and retailers responsible for crimes committed with guns. In 2006, Halligan also filed a brief arguing that handgun manufacturers were guilty of creating a public nuisance.  This caused an almost incredulous rejection by the New York Court of Appeals.

“The New York Court of Appeals has never recognized a common-law public nuisance cause of action based on allegations like those in this complaint. Moreover, other jurisdictions have dismissed public nuisance claims against firearms manufacturers on similar or other grounds… In light of the foregoing, we believe it is legally inappropriate, impractical and unrealistic to mandate that defendants undertake, and the courts enforce, unspecified measures urged by plaintiff in order to abate the conceded availability and criminal use of illegal handguns.” (People Of The State Of New York v. Sturm & Ruger Co., 309 A.D.2d 91, 2003).

Finally, there is the example of Eric Holder, who believes the following about firearms.

From rejection of the Supreme Court decision in Heller v. D.C., to advocacy for federal control over firearms manufacturers, to attempts to bankrupt firearms manufacturers with lawsuits, Obama’s friends have a storied and ugly history concerning their views on the second amendment.

The NRA knows full well Romney’s history on firearms and the second amendment.  But the circumstances that give credibility to Obama’s promises to implement gun control “under the radar,” or explain the ATF’s rejection of the import of almost 800,000 M1 Carbines from South Korea aren’t speculative either.  Obama is certainly aware of the anti-firearms positions of his appointments and nominees, for the contrary is simply impossible.  And people in such positions can effect policy, regulations and legal decisions for a generation.

This is Obama’s intent – at least, there is no other explanation.  To the NRA, Romney is a slightly to moderately uncomfortable ally.  Because of his chosen company, Obama must be seen as the enemy.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.



  • James Felix

    This election has to be about priorities.

    Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Obama and Romney are equally hostile to the 2nd Amendment. Barring a genuine, act of god the fact is that one of them IS going to be President in 2012.

    That being the case, we should get behind the guy that isn’t going to bankrupt the nation in order to pay off his cronies Chicago-style and bankrupt its citizens with his insane tax and energy policies.

    Sure, I wish I had a 2nd Amendment purist to vote for this year, but I don’t. So I’m going to vote for the guy that’s guaranteed to do less damage to our Republic in the meantime.

  • Kirk Parker

    ballistic fingerprinting of all firearms, otherwise called ‘microstamping.’

    Aren’t these two separate (bad) ideas? Fingerprinting is retaining a fired bullet or two to match the pattern of the lands and grooves, microstamping is having the firing pin imprint some kind of pattern on the primer.

  • mikee

    Fast and Furious. Hundreds dead due directly to ATF allowing firearms to be smuggled to Mexico without (1) informing the Mexican government or (2) having any way to track them once they crossed the border. Best guesses why this was allowed range from complete and utter ineptitude at the highest levels of ATF and DOJ and DEA and DHS, to a conspiracy designed to subvert 2nd Amendment rights “under the radar” with bad publicity about US guns getting to Mexico, to covert support for one drug gang against others, to complete corruption of many of those involved.

    Why is Holder still in office?

  • Rich K

    “Why is Holder still in office?”
    Rhetorical question,Right? I mean, your not actually thinking that his job depends on proper knowledge and enforcement of federal laws and such.
    Eric knows who’s backside to kiss and Im pretty sure we’ve all seen the brown stains on his lovely pink tongue.

  • http://www.firstcontactproject.org Rich Buckley

    Herschel, on a slightly off-topic question, why has Homeland Security reported to have placed orders for something like 750-million rounds of 40-cal hollow point ammo? I see it as a possible new domestic-northern-hemisphere Fast & Furious “seed-the-environment” and see what happens operation with the end result being emotional transformation of the political landscape to further curb or suspend Second Amendment rights. Have you read about this? What’s your take?

  • Lina Inverse

    A perhaps useful comparison would be G. H. W. Bush and Romney. The former signaled his beliefs during the primary at a New Hampshire (as I recall) event where he waved around a small .22LR revolver and said the usual things about who needs one? After Stockton he used the power of the Executive to ban the direct import of assault rifles, something we’re still living under AND an area where Obama can do a lot of mischief (note those M1 carbines and Garands we’re not allowing South Korea to re-export to us). Also note that this fit in the Zeitgeist of the time, which was only just started to turn against the gun-grabbers (e.g. the nationwide sweep of shall issue concealed carry laws started in Florida in 1987 and the restrictions on “assault weapons” affected a lot more people than most previous efforts).

    Romney signed a compromise bill supported by GOAL (the state RKBA organization) but inexplicably bad mouthed gun owners et. al. at the signing. For which he was thoroughly spanked. Especially outside of the state since the Zeitgeist now is VERY strongly against the gun grabbers, even the Congress is not supporting new gun restrictions proposed by the NRA.

    (Note that I’m not making this up: prior to the “assault weapons” ban, *every* Federal anti-gun law was passed with the approval of the NRA. What I’m referring to above was a panic move after Virginia Tech where the NRA worked with Carolyn McCarthy (!) and produced a horrible bill that was only fixed by other Congressmen by wholesale replacement of the bill’s language. Fortunately it would seem that even the NRA has gotten a clue and hasn’t supported any restrictions since then.)

    Based on all I know up to this point, I presume that unlike G. H. W. Bush, Romney doesn’t deep down believe in gun control and that he’ll follow the prevailing winds, which at least prior to the Martin-Zimmerman case were entirely in our favor. And we’ll have time to see how that case plays out in public opinion in the medium term before the election.

  • Lina Inverse

    Rich Buckley: I wouldn’t panic. First Google Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) government contracting; that’s a term of art for a contract where the government’s commitment is limited. In this case, they can, if they so choose, order up to 450 million .40 S&W rounds over the next 5 years, but that doesn’t mean they will order that many, just that they can.

    When the government has large but not quantifiable requirements, especially over a number of years, e.g. they’ll have to find money for it, year to year as the Congress sees fit, IDIQ contracts are standard; I’ve seen them used for e.g. large desktop computer procurements.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Kirk,

    Yes, you’re right. I should have said something like a subset of various ballistic identification techniques (ballistic fingerprinting relying on striations on the bullet versus the microstamping to which I referred).

    Thanks for the correction, and yes, they’re both intrusive ideas.

    Rich,

    I take the purchase to be more of the same confusion from which the federal government suffers, and frankly, which grips much of the law enforcement community, i.e., that it is appropriate and moral to conduct military operations against U.S. citizens. It is both inappropriate and immoral.

    When you think of military operations against citizens of the U.S., see my SWAT category, or think of the guys wearing Tru-Spec tactical pants and drop holsters, with blubbery bellies flopping over their belt line, like walruses, raiding Gibson guitars – you know, those guys who want to play soldier and who are too cowardly to fly across the pond and do it for real.

    Lina, good points, as always, on every account.

  • Lina Inverse

    Thanks a lot, Herschel.

    Here’s an added point that I was reminded of while rereading my first posting: politicians at the national level have learned the hard way that the NRA’s blessing is only tangentially related to gun owner opinion and voting. The NRA is a small, self-selected, currently 4.3 million member subset of the nation’s gun owners (call it 2.5 to 3% by my guess). Most are college educated and it of course doesn’t include people like me who felt compelled to drop membership after watching it’s executives in action for decades. (For more history look up Cincinnati Revolt and how in the ’90s the “Winning Team” executives have made sure that could never happen again.)

    For a recent example of supremely maladroit politicking, witness their embrace of Harry Reid, who’s wisely found pro-gun religion in the middle of the last decade, after he earmarked substantial pork for recreational shooting in Nevada. The resulting uproar prevented them from endorsing him for the 2010 election and while I don’t know about other members, my father is no longer sending them any money besides his membership dues.

    With our successes in the courts, my current recommendation is to send money to the Second Amendment Foundation (also a bit corrupt but they’ve been funding a lot of successful big picture lawsuits) and/or the NRA’s Civil Rights Defense Fund (which also helps some of the “little guys” caught up in the tangle of the nation’s 20,000+ gun control laws).

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Yes, I complained bitterly about the NRA and Harry Reid.

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2010/11/28/should-i-renew-my-nra-membership/

    And I’m aware of the machinations within the NRA, and the machinations before that. Of course, I did renew my NRA membership.

    http://www.captainsjournal.com/2011/04/03/i-renewed-my-nra-membership-today/

    I also heaped a bit of criticism on the SAF, causing David Codrea – whom I like and respect – to become miffed at me.

    But I do recommend spreading the support and funds around to best utilize our resources,

    Finally, I find it amusing that Huffington Post, the boys at the Brady Campaign, and so on, always focus on the NRA as the big, bad boogey man. But there are bloggers like me who believe that the NRA actually soft pedals things a bit. They see the NRA as a monolith driving thinking in the otherwise unthinking firearms community. The reality is more nuanced, with people like you and me attempting to figure out how best to drive our issues IN SPITE of the organizations, not because of them.

    I guess it shows how little that community actually knows about us. I’m okay with that.

  • Lina Inverse

    Indeed. I was amused today to read an article about the big, bad NRA which then immediately quoted a statistic from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which is the actual gun manufacturer’s lobbying organization (most recent big success was changing the frequency of collection of the Pittman-Robertson excise tax from bi-weekly to the sane, normal quarterly). I rather like the NSSF more than I like the NRA, ignoring the recent good behavior of the latter and they don’t mind at individuals signing up for the email bulletins and such.

    Hmmm, thinking further, there’s a RKBA argument against the Reid mess, fortunately one that’s not going to hurt us because the MSM won’t make a big deal of it. It makes us look like another corrupt special interest with our mouths at the trough….

    My biggest argument against the SAF is that someone is obviously making a lot of money sending out incessant snail mail (like the NRA but at a much lower scale and cost). Not having enough money to spare for donations much above the annual dues, I dropped my membership since it was clear that at net I was a drain. But you can look at their 990 forms and see them spending 6 and 7 figures (as I recall) on their litigation, and of course they’ve won quite a few cases and continue to fund lawsuits. There’s a delightful early February picture out there of Alan Gottlieb holding a check from the city of Chicago for $399,950.00, (robo-)signed by Rahm of course ^_^.

  • laker1

    Barry blocked the import of 1 million Girand rifles used in WWII from being imported back to the USA. Barry required the Firearms dealers in the south to register many firearms they are selling. This is ilegal but he did it anyway. Barry wants the failed and bogus assault weapons ban back. Hillary and Holder stated this. WE could continue but liberals don’t register facts. Barry appointed 2 liberal judges to the supreme court that voted along with 2 others that we the people have no right to firarms. If he appoints 1 more which he will in a second term our 2nd Amendment is gone along with all the other amendments he has already violated. Wake up Americans this guy is a Marxist. Fedzilla regulations are shutting down coal fired power plants all across America, coal mines, oil and gas drilling, oil refineries on the east coast. He gave awy 7 islands off Alaska to Russia where there is much crude oil and he has hired a company in Spain tom tally all votes in the November elections. Google it. WAKE BUP AMERICAN PATRIOTS. ii may already be too late. Oh yes, I forgot, running guns into a foriegn nation resulting in hundreds of Mexican national deaths and at least 1 US border agent. All to make it look like US dealers were suppling weapons illegally. THIS ADMINISTRATION ARE CRIMINALS IS FILLED WITH CRIMINALS, can you say forged birth certificate.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Well, technically, Kagan didn’t participate in either the Heller or the McDonald rulings. She came on board the SCOTUS after both. Now, we have reason to believe that she isn’t friendly to the second amendment because of the things she has said. But we can’t pin any 2A decisions on her that she hasn’t made. We’ll have to wait for the next one. If history is any indication for how Mr. Obama does, he will have installed a justice that, as she has herself said, isn’t friendly to the second amendment.

  • richard40

    One mitigating factor in romneys spotty gun record in MA is that it is in MA. When you are governor of a state, you have to follow the wishes of your constituents to some extent, and MA is a leftist anti gun state. Romney might have been pushed in a leftist direction against his private wishes. Now that romney is representing the country, rather than the leftist state of MA, he can afford to be more conservative on gun issues.

    Some people think this is cynical and opportunistic, but is it really that bad for a governor to try and reflect the wishes of his constituents, at least on issues that do not reflect his bedrock core beleifs, or where he had made clear promisses before election. Obama would certainly have governed better if he had reflected the wishes of the country as a whole more often, instead of his narrow leftist idealogy.

    Obama on the other hand, is representing the entire country now, so there is less excuse for him to be making anti gun appointments, unless he is really anti gun.

  • Terry N.

    The Congress is not supporting new gun restrictions proposed by the NRA so i guess they don’t really believe in gun control either.

  • http://www.jammerall.com sandi_ling

    Well, technically, Kagan didn’t participate in either the Heller or the McDonald rulings. She came on board the SCOTUS after both. Now, we have reason to believe that she isn’t friendly to the second amendment because of the things she has said.

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This article is filed under the category(s) BATFE,Featured,Firearms,Guns,Obama Administration,Second Amendment and was published April 15th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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