The Vetting: Obama Has Demagogued Guns, from 2000 to Today

As Barack Obama attacks "AK-47s," while his press secretary promises that Obama respects Second Amendment rights, it is worth recalling Obama's long-running campaign for gun control, dating back more than a decade--a campaign he now seeks to downplay as he heads into a difficult presidential election, because he knows how deeply unpopular it would be. 

In 2000, Obama, then a state senator, pushed anti-gun legislation--hard--after a 84-year-old woman had been gunned down by three gang-bangers who thought she had won the lottery. 

Obama unveiled his anti-gun plan at a rally near the woman's house. "This home invasion is another example of how violence came close to home and we must have congressional action to help reduce gun deaths. Congress has been slow to act on these issues," he said. Rest assured, once elected to federal office, he would act.

The Chicago Defender, a predominately African-American newspaper, featured Obama's proposal in a December 13, 1999 article. Obama, wrote the paper, has "proposed sweeping federal gun control legislation that would increase the penalties for the interstate transportation of firearms, restrict gun purchases to one weapon a month, increase the licensing fee, and ban the sale of firearms at gun shows." (Chinta Strausberg, "Obama unveils federal gun bill," Chicago Defender, December 13, 1999, pg. 3)

Other Obama proposals were even harsher: 

Obama is proposing to make it a felony for a gun owner whose firearm was stolen from his residence which causes harm to another person if that weapon was not securely stored in that home.

He's proposing restricting gun purchases to one weapon a month and banning the sale of firearms at gun shows except for "antique" weapons. Obama is also proposing increasing the licensing fee to obtain a federal firearms license.

He's also seeking a ban on police agencies from reselling their used weapons even if those funds are used to buy more state-of-the-art weapons for their agencies. Obama wants only those over 21 who've passed a basic course to be able to buy or own a firearm.

He's proposing that all federally licensed gun dealers sell firearms in a storefront and not from their homes while banning their business from being within five miles of a school or a park...

Obama is requiring that all people working at a gun dealer undergo a criminal background check. He's also asking that gun manufacturers be required to develop safety measures that permit only the original owner of the firearm to operate the weapon purchased.

Additionally, he wants an increase of the funds for schools to teach anger management skills for youth between the ages of 5-13. Obama is also seeking to increase the federal taxes by 500 percent on the sale of firearm, ammunition...

Obama's demand for "anger management" sounds eerily similar to an intervention prescribed by Obama's now Attorney General, Eric Holder. In 1995, Holder, then U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, called for a public campaign to "brainwash" young people into hating guns.

Of course, we now know that that desire to change the public discourse around guns was also a possible motive behind Holder's gun-walking scheme in the operation known as Fast & Furious. And while Obama continues to claim executive privilege over the documents that contributed to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, he continues to demand Romney's utterly irrelevant tax documents from over a decade ago. 

Draconian anti-gun laws, meanwhile, certainly haven't made Obama's Chicago safer. Chicago, now run by Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, has had over 250 murders this year, up some 38%. 

White House spokesman Jay Carney says, "The president believes that we need to take common-sense measure that protect Second Amendment rights of Americans, while ensuring that those who should not have guns under existing law do not get them." It's clear, though, from his Chicago days, that Obama's view of "common sense" doesn't mesh with what is common or sensible. And while Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says the time is not ideal to limit gun rights, she never said that time was "never." "Common-sense" reform easily becomes the incremental means by which he curtails rights.

Under the rubric of "common-sense," Obama routinely opposed laws that would have made Chicagoans safer while rewarding criminals. Obama opposed a law, for example, that would have added aggravated battery with a firearm--a common charge in gang driveby shootings--to a list of crimes that automatically sends teens 15 and older to criminal court.  Obama was quoted, along with Bernardine Dohrn, in opposition: “We can’t just write off these kids at 14, 15, and 16,” Obama said, not realizing that gang members might begin recruiting children to do the shooting. (“Legislators divided on ‘get tough’ reforms,” Chicago Sun-Times, Sep. 28, 1997). 

Given all of the recent discussion of gun control, it’s worth recalling that the Aurora, Colorado theatre in which last Friday's terrible crime took place was a “gun-free zone.”  In 2001, Obama wanted to make all of Illinois a “gun-free zone,” by banning concealed carry – in effect freeing gun-toting criminals from the threat of being shot by an armed citizen and increasing the likelihood that they would act with impunity.

Obama even helped defeat a proposal that came one vote shy of allowing Illinois citizens to carry a concealed firearm if a judge had granted them an order of protection. Obama fought to defeat that bill, citing--implausibly--domestic disputes as a reason. He argued that a bill that allowed those who have judge-issued restraining orders would use domestic disputes as “a Trojan Horse for the notion that concealed and carry[sic] is appropriate in our state.” In his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2004, he suggested a federal ban on concealed carry laws.

Similarly, State Sen. Obama backed a proposal that would have forced all sellers of firearms--even someone selling one gun from a private collection--to carry a state license. Such sellers would also have to report to state officials. He also backed allowing expensive lawsuits against gun manufactures when gun violence resulted in injury or death—a subtle means to increase the price of guns and keep them away from those who want them. 

Contrary to what Carney says, Obama supported every possible restriction on the Second Amendment, defending such restrictions as “not only constitutional, but eminently reasonable.” (Sean Noble, “Senate Democrats’ Proposals Take Aim At Weapons Control,”  State Journal-Register, Feb. 15, 2001) 

Obama missed only one major anti-gun vote—not because he opposed the restrictions, but because he was vacationing in Hawaii at the end of 1999.

Well, here’s to praying he lets this crisis go to waste in Colorado--and goes on vacation instead. 


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