5 years 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.