Obama The Pro-Gun President?

Is President Obama a surprising gun rights supporter? He might be if the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman is correct. And Chapman isn’t the only one. It seems to be shaping up to be the lefty complaint du jour this week. Reality, however, might say something different.

Chapman makes a classic mistake that many people make when discussing matters political. He mistakes Washington’s inaction on an issue as some sort of statement on the ideology on that issue. While there are times when this is true, inaction is not necessarily a statement of support or opposition to an issue, but often just a matter of merely not having gotten to it yet, or even not being able to.

In this case Chapman is talking about guns. Is Obama for them, against them, indifferent to them? Chapman has a sneaking suspicion that President Obama is for our rights and only supports modest gun control measures. This is because the president hasn’t launched into all sorts of left-wing attempts to curtail our Second Amendment rights in his one year in office. But I think Chapman is reading too much into Obama’s inaction.

While it is true that Obama has signed a few bills with measures that have given gun rights advocates reason to celebrate and while it is true that Obama has not come to the aid of virulent anti-Second Amendment folks like the Brady Center, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Obama is the NRA’s next poster child!

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In favor of guns, Obama has singed a law that allows guns to be carried in the national parks, he’s signed a bill that allows handguns to be checked and stored in baggage on AMTRAK, and has preserved the limits on government information on traced firearms from getting into the hands of folks outside of law enforcement. But as Chapman rightly notes, all these provisions were slipped into bills that Obama really wanted to sign and didn’t want to risk vetoing just over the gun issues.

Chapman also notes that Obama has yet to take up any of the anti-gun measures that the left had hoped he’d tackle.

Sure these things have upset the extreme left, of course anti-Constitutionalists like Brady Center are upset. But these have been pretty safe moves by Obama since gun rights currently enjoy some of the most robust support in years from the voters and that support has been on the rise.

But does inaction like this equate to support for guns? Chapman seems as if he’s edging toward thinking that it does. But I believe he’s making a mistake to do so.

After all, President Obama has been a mite busy to worry about guns at this time, don’t you think? Immediately upon entering office he tackled healthcare, the Olympics, multiple bailouts, the economy, a take over of the auto industry, the laying low of Wall Street and the banking industry, and now even fat kids and gays in the military, not to mention two wars (because he hardly mentions them himself). That is quite a full dinner plate, there, wouldn’t you say?

Just because Obama hasn’t had the time to go after our gun rights doesn’t really mean he isn’t inclined to do so. There’s only so much time in a year, to be sure.

Finally, there is the little matter of political capital. As I said, gun rights enjoy a large positive image with the general American public at this time and Obama has wasted a lot of his once ample political capital on his debacle of a healthcare plan. If he wanted to take on gun rights, too, he’d have to have far more political strength than he now enjoys. So, his inaction is easier to attribute to his inability to take on the left-wing gun cause rather than his reticence to do so.

In any case, Chapman’s sneaking feeling that Obama isn’t as anti-gun as the far left wants him to be is not pat. There’s obviously a lot of reasons that Obama hasn’t turned his attention to guns. Being pro-gun isn’t likely one of them.

(Cross posted at BigGovernment.com)

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