The news story:
As gun sales shoot up around the country, President-elect Barack Obama said Sunday that gun-owning Americans do not need to rush out and stock up before he is sworn in next month.
“I believe in common-sense gun safety laws, and I believe in the second amendment,” Obama said at a news conference. “Lawful gun owners have nothing to fear. I said that throughout the campaign. I haven’t indicated anything different during the transition. I think people can take me at my word.”
But National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it’s not Obama’s words — but his legislative track record — that has gun-buyers flocking to the stores.
“Prior to his campaign for president, his record as a state legislator and as a U.S. Senator shows he voted for the most stringent forms of gun control, the most Draconian legislation, gun bans, ammunition bans and even an increase in federal excise taxes up to 500 percent for every gun and firearm sold,” Arulanandam said.
Obama answered “yes” in 1996 to a questionnaire from an Illinois group on whether he supported a handgun ban. But he later said a staffer filled out that answer and he did not support a ban.
I’ve never owned a gun, but there still is that nagging feeling that I should have a closet full of guns by January 20th, just in case. I won’t, of course – but I’m not exactly prepared to take Obama at his word. This doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s telling the truth – could be that Obama realizes that the issue is a loser and that the only people who ever cared strongly about gun control laws were rich, white liberals who could usually obtain concealed carry permits if they felt the need. On the other hand, when Obama says “lawful”, you want clarification – realizing that he’s a lawyer who has had some difficulty with the truth (such as his claim that an aide incorrectly filled out the gun control question).
There is really nothing Obama can say which will make gun owners feel confident that there isn’t a gun control ordinance up his sleeve somewhere, just waiting for the exploitable tragedy in order for it to be rammed home in a fit of national emotion. The proof, here, really will be in the pudding – if Obama refrains from trying to push gun control, then at the end of his four or eight years, we’ll be able to assert stoutly that he can be taken at his word on gun control, but until such time eternal vigilance will the price of liberty, and the right to bear arms.