Are Guns The Keys To The Kingdom For McCain?

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Judging by the rapidity of the RNC's reaction to DC v. Heller, the craftmanship of McCain's statement and the sudden appearance of McCain surrogates on the cable networks, the answer is: he thinks do. McCain adviser Steve Schmidt likes to say that elections are about contrasts, the campaign has been looking for issues to draw clean, unsubtle distinctions between the two candidates. There is a particular demographic group in the balance here: white, working class men. It's another example of two different approaches to the electorate. McCain has different things to say to different groups of people -- not inconsistent things, but just different things -- while Obama's message is holistic.

Today's decision is a landmark victory for Second Amendment freedom in the United States. For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers. I applaud this decision as well as the overturning of the District of Columbia's ban on handguns and limitations on the ability to use firearms for self-defense.

Unlike Senator Obama, who refused to join me in signing a bipartisan amicus brief, I was pleased to express my support and call for the ruling issued today. Today's ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller makes clear that other municipalities like Chicago that have banned handguns have infringed on the constitutional rights of Americans. Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today's ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly.

This ruling does not mark the end of our struggle against those who seek to limit the rights of law-abiding citizens. We must always remain vigilant in defense of our freedoms. But today, the Supreme Court ended forever the specious argument that the Second Amendment did not confer an individual right to keep and bear arms.

The RNC's first memo is titled: "OBAMA'S SUPREME MISTAKE ON GUNS The Supreme Court Rules Against Obama's Anti-Gun Views On D.C. Gun Ban, Further Demonstrating Obama Is Most Anti-Gun Presidential Candidate In History."

In part this aggressiveness serves as a prophylactic against what the McCain campaign thinks Obama will do, which is to say that he never opposed the DC gun ban in the first place. You can read the two RNC research memos after the jump.

OBAMA ’96 QUESTIONNAIRE – HANDGUN BAN



OBAMA CAMPAIGN’S RESPONSE TO HIS SUPPORT OF BANNING HANDGUNS IS MISLEADING



Obama Filled Out ’96 Questionnaire Indicating Support For Banning Handguns, Claimed He Didn’t Fill It Out:



In Response To A 1996 Independent Voters Of Illinois Questionnaire, Obama Indicated That He Supported Banning The “Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns.” Question from a 1996 Independent Voters of Illinois questionnaire: “Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” Obama’s answer: “Yes.” (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)



Obama’s Campaign Claims He Did Not Fill Out The Questionnaire. “Aides claim Obama did not fill out the questionnaire, and instead it was handled by a staffer who misrepresented his views on gun control, the death penalty and more.” (Todd Venezia, “Going Barack & Forth,” The New York Post, 12/23/07)



* Obama Spokesman Ben LaBolt: “Obama never saw the ‘96 IVI-IPO state Senate questionnaire -- it was filled out by a staffer who unintentionally mischaracterized his views on a number of issues …” (Lynn Sweet, “The Past Haunts Obama?” Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/07)



* “LaBolt Said The Staffer Was Then-Obama State Senate Campaign Manager Carol Harwell, Who Could Not Be Reached … For Comment.” (Lynn Sweet, “The Past Haunts Obama?” Chicago Sun-Times, 12/12/07)



During 4/16 Dem. Debate, Obama Falsely Claimed His Handwriting Did Not Appear On Questionnaire. “Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., maintained at Wednesday’s ABC News debate in Philadelphia that his handwriting does not appear on a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns. The Democratic presidential frontrunner made this claim even though a copy of the original document suggests otherwise. … When asked about the gun questionnaire with the handwriting on it, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs did not dispute that the writing was Obama’s.” (Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib, “Obama Forgets Writing On Gun Questionnaire,” ABC News’ “Political Radar” Blog, www.abcnews.com, 4/18/08)



* 4/16 Dem. Debate Included Obama False Claim On Questionnaire. “On guns, moderator Charles Gibson asked about a questionnaire with Obama’s writing on one page and an answer on another that said Obama favored banning handguns. Obama answered: ‘No, my writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie. As I said, I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.’ The Clinton campaign helpfully handed out copies of the questionnaire later that did have Obama’s writing on it, and the gun opposition. The Obama camp insists Obama did not see the relevant page, or another in a similar questionnaire.” (Michael McAuliff, “Pushing Wafles,” [New York] Daily News’ “Mouth Of The Potomac” Blog, www.nydailynews.com, 4/17/08)



A Spokesman For IVI-IPO Denies The Campaign’s Claims. “A spokesman for the Illinois group said the excuse is ridiculous because they interviewed him in person.” (Todd Venezia, “Going Barack & Forth,” The New York Post, 12/23/07)



Amended Version Of ’96 Questionnaire Leads To Further Skepticism Of Obama’s Claims. “During his first run for elected office, Barack Obama played a greater role than his aides now acknowledge in crafting liberal stands on gun control, the death penalty and abortion — positions that appear at odds with the more moderate image he has projected during his presidential campaign. The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)



* “Obama Was Actually Interviewed.” “[A] Politico examination determined that Obama was actually interviewed about the issues on the questionnaire by the liberal Chicago nonprofit group that issued it. And it found that Obama — the day after sitting for the interview — filed an amended version of the questionnaire, which appears to contain Obama’s own handwritten notes added to one answer.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)



* “Unbelievable” Obama Never Saw Questionnaire. “Dobry, Patt and current IVI-IPO state chairman David K. Igasaki, a Clinton supporter, agreed Obama likely didn’t write every word of his campaign’s 1996 answers. But they all dismissed as unbelievable his presidential campaign’s assertion that Obama never saw or signed off on the state Senate questionnaires.” (Kenneth P. Vogel, “Obama Had Great Role In Liberal Survey,” Politico, 3/31/08)



Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:44 AM
Subject: OBAMA'S SUPREME MISTAKE ON GUNS



RNC Research

[Obama]



OBAMA'S SUPREME MISTAKE ON GUNS

The Supreme Court Rules Against Obama's Anti-Gun Views On D.C. Gun Ban, Further Demonstrating Obama Is Most Anti-Gun Presidential Candidate In History

_______________________________________________________________________



Obama Expressed Support For The D.C. Gun Ban:



Obama Campaign: "Obama Believes The D.C. Handgun Law Is Constitutional." "[T]he campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he '...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.'" (James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins, "Court To Hear Gun Case," Chicago Tribune, 11/20/07)



During An Interview, Obama Acknowledged His Support For The D.C. Gun Ban. Questioner Leon Harris: "One other issue that's of great importance here in the district as well is gun control. You said in Idaho recently - I'm quoting here - 'I have no intention of taking away folks' guns,' but you support the D.C. handgun ban." Obama: "Right." (Leon Harris and Sen. Barack Obama, Forum Sponsored By ABC And Politico.Com, Washington, DC, 2/12/08)



* In The Same Interview, Obama Indicated He Feels The D.C. Gun Ban Is Constitutional. Harris: "And you've said that it's constitutional. How can you reconcile those two different positions?" Obama: "Oh, because I think we have two conflicting traditions in this country. I think it is important for us to recognize that we've got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally. And a lot of people, law-abiding citizens, use it for hunting, for sportsmanship, and for protecting their families. We also have violence on the streets that is a result of illegal handgun use. And so, there is nothing wrong, I think, with a community saying we are going to take those illegal handguns off the streets..." (Leon Harris and Sen. Barack Obama, Forum Sponsored By ABC And Politico.Com, Washington, DC, 2/12/08)

* Click Here To Watch Obama Express Support For The D.C. Gun Ban

In Addition To Supporting The D.C. Gun Ban, Obama Has A Long Anti-Gun Record That Includes Telling Scholar John Lott "I Don't Believe That People Should Be Able To Own Guns":



Scholar John Lott Recalls Obama Stating: "I Don't Believe That People Should Be Able To Own Guns." John Lott: "In fact, I knew Obama during the mid-1990s, and his answers to IVI's question on guns fit well with the Obama that I knew. Indeed, the first time I introduced myself to him he said 'Oh, you are the gun guy.' I responded 'Yes, I guess so.' He simply responded that 'I don't believe that people should be able to own guns.'" (John R. Lott, Jr., "Obama And Guns: Two Different Views," Fox News, www.foxnews.com, 4/7/08)



In Response To A 1996 Independent Voters Of Illinois Questionnaire, Obama Indicated That He Supported Banning The "Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns." Question: "Do you support state legislation to ... ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?" Obama's Response: "Yes." (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)



Obama Was Director Of Anti-Gun Joyce Foundation, Which Spent Millions On Gun-Control Causes. "Adding even further skepticism to Obama's claim of support for the 2nd Amendment is his previous service as a director of the Joyce Foundation. Since 2000, the Joyce Foundation has provided over $15 Million in funding to radical gun control organizations such as the Violence Policy Center and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. The Joyce Foundation is tightly linked to the Soros Open Society Instit ute -- an extremist group that advocates a worldwide ban on civilian firearm ownership." (Illinois State Rifle Association, "ISRA Blasts Candidate Obama On His Record Of Hostility Toward Law-Abiding Firearm Owners," Press Release, 8/24/04)



In 2004, Obama Voted Against Self-Defense Rights. "[Obama] opposed letting people use a self-defense argument if charged with violating local handgun bans by using weapons in their homes. The bill was a reaction to a Chicago-area man who, after shooting an intruder, was charged with a handgun violation." (Ryan Keith "Obama Record In State Legislature Offers Possible Ammunition For Critics," The Associated Press, 1/17/07)



In 2004, Running For U.S. Senate Obama Called For Federal Legislation To Pre-Empt State Concealed Carry Laws. "In a February survey of Democratic primary candidates for the U.S. Senate by the Tribune, Obama said he opposed allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons and that a federal law banning concealed carried weapons except for law enforcement is needed." (Liam Ford, "Keyes Backs Law On Concealed Guns," Chicago Tribune, 8/25/04)



On December 21, 1999, Obama Discussed The Penalties One Would Receive If Carrying A Firearm Illegally. (State Of Illinois 91st General Assembly Regular Session Senate Transcript, www.ilga.gov, 12/21/99, p. 20-23)



* Obama: "Senator Emil Jones has offered - and I think this is an excellent idea that gets at the concerns that everybody on that side of the aisle has had, which is that we would create a felony offense and a misdemeanor offense, depending on the kinds of weapons you're carrying. Basically, the provision would say that there are category one weapons: handguns, sawed-off shotguns, sawed-off rifles, other firearms that are small enough to store on their person, that to unlawfully possess and carry these weapons would be a felony; but, on the other hand, if you were going to be carrying a rifle or shotgun, a spring gun, other firearm that were used for hunting, then that would be a misdemeanor." (State Of Illinois 91st General Assembly Regular Session S enate Transcript, www.ilga.gov, 12/21/99, p. 21)

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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