Obama Defends Gun Rights With Restrictions

Barack Obama has shown a commendable tendency to stick to his principles regardless of the audience. Obama has argued his position on fuel economy in Detroit and has argued for merit pay for teachers before a potentially hostile teacher’s organization. Today, when it might be politically safest before Democrats to support restrictions on gun rights, Obama continues to defend Constitutional liberties while supporting some restrictions.
It would especially be easy for an Illinois politician to back restrictions on guns after the recent shootings, but Obama has never resorted to taking the easy position. AP reports:

Barack Obama said Friday that the country must do “whatever it takes” to eradicate gun violence following a campus shooting in his home state, but he believes in an individual’s right to bear arms.

Obama said he spoke to Northern Illinois University’s president Friday morning by phone and offered whatever help his Senate office could provide in the investigation and improving campus security. The Democratic presidential candidate spoke about the Illinois shooting to reporters while campaigning in neighboring Wisconsin.

The senator, a former constitutional law instructor, said some scholars argue the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees gun ownerships only to militias, but he believes it grants individual gun rights.

“I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it’s subject to commonsense regulation” like background checks, he said during a news conference.

He said he would support federal legislation based on a California law that would facilitate immediate tracing of bullets used in a crime. He said even though the California law was passed over the strong objection of the National Rifle Association, he thinks it’s the type of law that gun owners and crime victims can get behind.

Five people, including the shooter, were killed during Thursday’s ambush inside a lecture hall. Authorities said the two guns used were purchased legally less then a week ago.

“Today we offer them our thoughts and prayers, but we also have to offer them our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities,” Obama said. “That is our duty as Americans.”

Although Obama supports gun control, while campaigning in gun-friendly Idaho earlier this month, he said he does not intend to take away people’s guns.

At his news conference, he voiced support for the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court next month.

“The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can’t initiate gun safety laws to deal with gang bangers and random shootings on the street isn’t born out by our Constitution,” Obama said.

Campaigning in Ohio, Obama’s rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton echoed Obama’s comments.

“Obviously we have to first and foremost do everything we can to take reasonable steps to keep our children safe,” she said. “And while safeguarding and respecting our Second Amendment rights, we have to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, gang members and people with mental health problems.”

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  1. 1
    Right Democrat says:

    If Barack Obama wants to win any red states, he had better stay away from talking about any new gun control regulations. I would urge Obama to take a strong pro-2nd Amendment stand like Democratic Senator Jon Tester. In fact, Tester (or Jim Webb – another strongly pro-gun rights Senate Democrat) would make a good running mate for Obama.

  2. 2
    Robert says:

    As someone who has lived for several years on two different continents, I’ve seen that this kind of stuff just doesn’t happen abroad. Sure, people get murdered, but the normality of a school shooting like this one is almost unheard of outside of the United States. For God’s sake, we had six school shootings in one week recently.

    That said, I certainly, like Obama, do not support a ban on firearms. However, some fundamental changes must be enacted. It seems to me that gun ownership should be a privilege only for those who have exemplary records. Mental illness, history of violent crimes, etc. should mean immediate confiscation of your permit to own and carry a gun.

    Like I said, this sort of stuff just does not happen in industrialized countries outside the US.

  3. 3
    SteveM says:

    I can appreciate Sen. Obama’s recognition that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms, but he cannot square his position with Washington, D.C.’s complete prohibition of handguns and accompanying restriction on long-gun ownership (except in a disabled condition in one’s house, thus rendering it useless for self-defense). Such restrictions in localities is blatantly unconstitutional. And Heller’s attorneys are arguing just that before the Supremes. I would suggest the rationale for gun control is the elimination of self-defense as an option for civilians who face deadly threats, and not making it more difficult for criminals to obtain firearms. Criminals can always do that.

  4. 4
    P.E.R> says:

    Gun control dont work for many reasons but one of the biggest reasons is criminals dont obey laws.  simple fact.  thats why they are criminals.  You can put all the bans and restrictions in place that you want but they will still kill, rape and hurt you.  Doesnt matter if its with a gun, knife, sword or a rusty spoon.  there will always be crime.  now if you encounter someone trying to hurt(or kill you)  do you want to sit and wait for the police to respond?(typical wait time: 8 minuets)  can you run enough circles around your attacker and wait for help?  or would you rather just take up arms and defend your self?  have the upper hand.  stop your attacker before he ends you for good.  what side do you care to be on?

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    That is a rather simplistic look at the issue. While I would allow every individual to choose for themselves, there is evidence that having a gun in one’s home often places the homeowner at increased risk from having their own gun used against them by an intruder.

    More importantly, this doesn’t address the question of assault weapons. Unless you think everyone should have their own assault weapons at home, as opposed to a more conventional gun for self-defense, this argument could actually be turned around to support an attempt at restricting assault weapons so that the home owner who keeps a gun for self defense has a better chance of winding up on  a level playing field.

    Allowing people to have a gun in their home for self-defense does not conflict with having background checks or other regulations designed to attempt to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, even if such measures will never be 100% effective.

  6. 6
    Wayne says:

    And use of the phrase “assault rifle” is a simplistic view as well.  Weapons that can fire more than one bullet or other projectile per pull of the trigger (fully automatic weapons) have been banned for decades, and I, as a supporter of the 2nd amendment, strongly agree with.  However, banning a particular type of weapon because it “looks like an assault weapon” is a waste of time and just complicates matters.  There are many weapons that have never fallen under the various “assault weapons” bans that have multiple shot magazines, and which do not require cocking between shots (semi-automatic), yet “assualt weapons” are banned. 

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    No, it is not simplistic in the context where I am using it–to demonstrate broadly that there are situations which the argument based upon defense of one’s home does not preclude reasonable regulation of guns.

    You are really going on to a different topic. I don’t think there is much disagreement that previous legislation was flawed, and certainly any legislation would be simplistic if it attempted a blanket ban on assault weapons without further defining what is covered.

  8. 8
    Debra Chamberlain says:

    I really hope and pray that for not only his presidency sake but more so for our country sake he leaves guns and ammunition alone it is in the constitution the right to bear arms and the ammo to do so is included

  9. 9
    DJK says:

    Maybe we should just ban criminals…  or kill them.    Then…there wouldn’t be massacres.

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