President-elect Barack Obama has a bad reputation regarding the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and it’s having a dramatic effect in gun and ammo retail outlets.
Gun sales across the country were up before Election 2008 – just in anticipation of a Barack Obama victory in the White House race. Now that the president-elect is poised to take the oath of office, guns are flying off the shelves.
“Sales of firearms, in particular handguns and semi-automatic hunting and target rifles, are fast outpacing inventory,” National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) president and CEO Stephen Sanetti disclosed in a statement to the media. “It’s clear that many people are concerned about possible gun bans under the incoming Congress and are reacting accordingly.”
For example, firearms sales in California jumped by a third from a year earlier — from 99,396 to 132,599, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.
The Franklin Gun Shop outside Nashville, Tenn., sold more than 70 guns on Election Day, racking up the best sales day since the business opened. Also on Election Day, a Cheyenne, Wyo., gun store set a one-day sales record – only to break that record the next day, according to a report by OneNewsNow.com.
BeforeElection Day, The New York Times reported that a Pittsburgh-area merchant was taking up to 30 calls daily for inquiries about buying assault rifles, that Colorado set a single-day record for required background checks of gun buyers, and that sales spiked as much as seven times in Houston gun stores.
So, has Barack Obama over the years said something or intimated anything by his record to cause this apparent panic?
Yes, in spades, maintains the National Rifle Association (NRA).
During the campaign, the NRA ran advertisements saying Obama “would be the most anti-gun president in American history.”
The president-elect’s voting record on gun rights proves it, said NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parson.
“He’s supported gun bans, ammunition bans. He’s supported a tax increase on guns and ammunition. He has voted against self-defense in the home when he was in the Illinois State Senate,” she noted. “Over and over, Barack Obama has voted against the Second Amendment.”
Joining the NRA chorus is the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) that points to a couple of Obama appointments as indicative of the coming pro-gun control administration,
The nomination of Eric Holder for the post of attorney general of the United States sends an alarming signal to gun owners about how the Barack Obama administration will view individual gun rights, the Second Amendment Foundation warned in a news release.
“Eric Holder signed an amicus brief in the Heller case that supported the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, and also argued that the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right,” argued SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “He has supported national handgun licensing and mandatory trigger locks. As deputy attorney general under Janet Reno, he lobbied Congress to pass legislation that would have curtailed legitimate gun shows.
“This is not the record of a man who will come to office as the nation’s top law enforcement officer with the rights and concerns of gun owners in mind,” he observed.
Holder’s nomination -- like the appointment of anti-gun Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff -- tells American gun owners that Obama’s campaign claims supporting the Second Amendment were empty rhetoric, Gottlieb argued.
“Gun owners have not forgotten Mr. Obama’s acknowledged opposition to concealed carry rights, nor his support for a ban on handgun ownership when he was running for the Illinois state senate,” he concluded.
Obama on Guns
From early in his campaign, however, Obama and company have disputed the claims of the NRA and other organizations such as the SAF. Obama’s carefully crafted statements on gun control were anything but radical.
During the debate preceding the Pennsylvania primary in April, Obama unveiled his “common sense” package on gun ownership.
Q: Is the D.C. law prohibiting ownership of handguns consistent with an individual's right to bear arms?
A: As a general principle, I believe that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms. But just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right, in the same way that we have a right to private property but local governments can establish zoning ordinances that determine how you can use it.
Q: But do you still favor the registration and licensing of guns?
A: I think we can provide common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets. We can make sure that criminals don’t have guns in their hands. We can make certain that those who are mentally deranged are not getting a hold of handguns. We can trace guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers that may be selling to straw purchasers and dumping them on the streets.
In January 2008 during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Obama also pushed his common-sense theme.
Q: When you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners. Would you do that as president?
A: I don’t think that we can get that done. But what we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement. The efforts by law enforcement to obtain the information required to trace back guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers. As president, I intend to make it happen.
Despite the hard line stance of the NRA and SAF, Obama’s message must have resonated with at least some pro-gunners. His presidential candidacy was endorsed by the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA).
One of Obama’s virtues as perceived by the AHSA is that he has gone on the record to say that the Second Amendment right is an individual right. The most conservative of the anti-gunners believe the founding fathers bequeathed the right to bear arms to militias – not individual citizens.
AHSA also notes that when a vote came before the United States Senate to prohibit the confiscation of legally acquired firearms during an emergency, Obama voted YES. Senator Obama was thus on record voting against allowing the federal government to confiscate guns.
However one may objectively judge the Obama voting record and gun rhetoric, the statistics show a very real sense of clear and present danger among the gun set: Data derived from the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) shows a 24 percent increase in firearm purchaser background checks for December 2008 (1,523,426 checks) over December 2007 (1,230,525 checks). Final year-end NICS data reveals a total of 12,709,023 background checks reported in 2008, up 14 percent from 2007. In December, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reported a 24 percent jump from a year earlier in requests for criminal background checks for gun purchases -- enough to cause a shortage in application forms. Eighty percent of target shooters and hunters questioned in a poll by Southwick Associates Inc. predicted Obama or Congress will tighten gun-buying restrictions. November 2008 saw a 42 percent rise in NICS checks, the highest number of checks in the system’s history. Federal law requires FBI background checks for all individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed retailers. According to the ATF, the large increase in demand for firearms has led to a shortage of Form 4473s, the Firearms Transaction Record that must be filled out any time a person buys a firearm from a licensed retailer.
Meanwhile, even with the pro gun set alarmed and grabbing up guns, the NRA has continued its assault on Obama and his fledgling administration.
“One of their first official acts is to make a list of gun owners among their own employees. It proves where their hearts are. It shows what their philosophy is. This is more proof that this administration is coming after our freedom, and NRA stands ready.”
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