Anti-gun presidential candidates show affection for second amendment

By By Steven Warrick

By Steven Warrick

One of the more amusing things I noticed in the 2008 election is efforts of longtime anti-gun candidates to declare their support for the Second Amendment.

However, ultimately they still don’t get it. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, it’s about being able to defend ourselves. This is not to say that hunting is not important. It puts meat on the table for many, particularly in places like Utah, but it is not in the same class as defense.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have long histories of favoring gun control. Sen. Obama has supported gun registration, a ban on all handguns and prosecution of people who use firearms for self-defense in their homes, among other anti-gun measures. Sen. Clinton has likewise supported programs such as gun registration and a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Yet they appear to have changed their tune. Last month, during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Obama said, “The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”

During the nomination campaign, Clinton recounted learning to shoot and going hunting as a girl. She also claimed that she would not infringe on the rights of “lawful gun owners.” Obama later mockingly referred to her as “Annie Oakley.”

This seeming change of heart is not due to an encounter with the ghost of Charlton Heston in some sort of road to Damascus experience. Nor does the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller explain it. That decision, though a victory for gun owners, leaves plenty of room for anti-gun politicians to do mischief.

Obama and Clinton’s change is nothing more than crass political opportunism. Gun control has proven to be a loser in most national elections. The infamous Clinton Gun Ban of 1994 was one of the factors that allowed Republicans to sweep the Democratic Congress out of power later that year. Likewise, Al Gore was not able to get any real traction from his espousal of gun registration in 2000. Those polls that occasionally indicate the majority of Americans favor stricter gun controls are illusory. Even when support for increased gun control is a mile wide, it is only an inch deep.

On the other hand, the pro-gun forces are almost fanatical in their convictions. The NRA is by far the most powerful interest group in the United States, despite being a fraction of the size of the AARP, the largest interest group.

The other problem with Obama and Clinton’s newfound enthusiasm for the Second Amendment is that they really don’t understand it. It’s not about hunting or target shooting, it’s about protecting our lives and our liberty. It is admittedly poorly worded: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Nevertheless, its inclusion in the Bill of Rights, along with such fundamental guarantees of individual liberties as freedom of conscience and expression in the First Amendment, the right to be secure in our persons and houses in the Fourth Amendment and the various guarantees of due process contained in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments, indicate strongly that it deals with something more important than mere hobbies or pastimes.

Like Obama, I too want to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. It can’t be done, however, as illustrated by the dismal failure of the UK’s draconian gun control laws. Criminals will continue to get guns, including AK-47s, despite the various ban, tax and registration schemes Obama might envision. What the government can do is to allow us to protect ourselves, which is why the Second Amendment is so important.

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