Skip navigation


Nutty Professor
Sunday, Sep 28, 2008 – 12:05 AM

Presidents have vast influence in certain areas, such as foreign affairs, and their positions on those subjects command attention because their views could shape history. In other areas, presidents have considerably less influence. But their views matter still, because the positions they take give insight into their political philosophy, the premises from which they begin any consideration of public policy. Guns offer a perfect example.

John McCain — who picked a gleefully gun-totin’ running mate — is not a gun-rights absolutist. Among other things, he has supported bans on inexpensive handguns, favored requiring safety locks on firearms, and suggested the GOP should be open to closing the gun-show loophole.

Yet McCain’s general approach favors (a) preserving Second Amendment rights for law-abiding gun owners and (b) stiffer penalties for lawbreakers. He has opposed assault-rifle bans as well as nonsensical lawsuits seeking to hold gun manufacturers responsible for individual acts of gun violence. “Neither justice nor domestic peace [is] served by holding the innocent responsible for the acts of the criminal,” he says.

. . .

And then there is Barack Obama — who said earlier this year that poor, rural Americans “cling to” guns like a security blanket.

The Democrat seems to have undergone a campaign conversion — he now claims to have “no intention of taking away folks’ guns.” But he frequently describes restrictions on gun ownership as “common sense,” and his statements supporting gun rights often come with a “but.” His record suggests a deep and strongly felt antipathy to gun rights. Rare is the anti-gun measure he has voted against.

He also takes pains to avoid saying he would oppose on principle even the most extreme gun-control proposals. Instead, he says they aren’t politically viable. A complete ban on handguns? That is “not politically practicable.” Take away the family deer rifle? “Even if I wanted to take it away, I couldn’t get it done. I don’t have the votes in Congress.” Licensing all firearms ownership? “I just don’t think we can get that done.” He has supported licensing all handgun owners, though, and in 2004 Obama backed national legislation forbidding anyone but law-enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms, even with a license.

A Dec. 13, 1999, article in the Chicago Defender reported on an appearance at an anti-gun rally at which “Obama outlined his anti-gun plan [including] banning the sale of firearms at gun shows except ‘antique’ weapons” — as well as (a) banning gun stores from any location within five miles of a school or a park, (b) banning inexpensive pistols, and (c) charging a homeowner with a felony if a weapon stolen from his home is used to cause harm, if the weapon was not properly secured.

In the wake of the Heller decision striking down D.C.’s handgun ban, Obama said he has “always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but . . . .” Last November he said the D.C. gun law was constitutional.

If a political candidate said he acknowledged a First Amendment right to free expression, but had supported seemingly every attempt at censorship that had ever crossed his path, it would be fair to call him disingenuous. If a professor of constitutional law did the same thing, it would be fair to call him something worse. Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.

Go Back

— Part of the GatewayVa Network —



Lawsuit filed against new DC gun regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) — The plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that struck down Washington’s 32-year-old handgun ban filed a new federal lawsuit Monday, alleging the city’s new gun regulations still violate an individual’s right to own a gun for self-defense.

Dick Heller and two other plaintiffs argue that the city’s regulations are “highly unusual and unreasonable” in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court.

The lawsuit claims the District of Columbia continues to violate the intent of the Supreme Court’s June 26 decision by prohibiting the ownership of most semiautomatic weapons, requiring an “arbitrary” fee to register a firearm and establishing rules that make it all but impossible for residents to keep a gun in the home for immediate self-defense.

The D.C. Council was immediately criticized by gun rights advocates when it unanimously passed emergency gun legislation July 15. The law will remain in effect for 90 days, and the council expects to begin work in September on permanent legislation.

The regulations maintain the city’s ban of machine guns, defined in the law as weapons that shoot more than 12 rounds without reloading. That definition applies to most semiautomatic firearms.

Handguns, as well as other legal firearms such as rifles and shotguns, also must be kept unloaded and disassembled, or equipped with trigger locks in the home unless there is a “reasonably perceived threat of immediate harm.”

“A robber basically has to make an appointment” for a resident to be able to prepare the weapon for use, Heller’s attorney, Stephen Halbrook, said Monday. Halbrook also called the city’s definition of machine guns “bizarre.”

“The District’s ban on semiautomatic handguns amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of arms that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for the lawful purpose of self defense in the home,” the lawsuit alleges.

D.C. interim Attorney General Peter Nickles said the suit came as no surprise and that he expects a long legal fight as the issue makes it way through the courts.

“I think there’s a fundamental disagreement with the intent of the Supreme Court’s decision,” said Nickles, noting that the Supreme Court’s ruling did not give officials much guidance with respect to regulating firearms.

“I feel comfortable with what the city has done,” Nickles said.

After the Supreme Court narrowly struck down Washington’s handgun ban last month in a narrow 5-4 decision, the D.C. Council quickly moved to comply with the ruling, and residents were allowed to begin applying for handguns July 17 for the first time since 1976.

Monday’s lawsuit alleges that Heller initially tried to register a semiautomatic Colt pistol, but was denied because D.C. police considered the weapon to be a machine gun.

Besides Heller, the other plaintiffs are Absalom Jordan, whose application to register a .22-caliber pistol was denied, and Amy McVey, who must return to D.C. police headquarters two more times to register her weapon after being photographed and fingerprinted and undergoing a background check, according to the lawsuit.

Washington’s gun ban essentially outlawed private ownership of handguns in a city struggling with violence. But what impact the ban has had on crime has long been debated, particularly after homicides more than doubled during a crack epidemic in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

The city’s gun regulations remain among the strictest in the country under the new regulations, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

July 30, 2008 Posted by ragamuffin08 | GUN RIGHTS, THE BILL OF RIGHTS | | No Comments | Edit