The Obama Drama two-step on guns
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has worked to assure uneasy gun owners that he believes the Constitution protects their rights and that he doesn’t want to take away their guns.
But before he became a national political figure, he sat on the board of a Chicago-based foundation that doled out at least nine grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to groups that advocated the opposite positions.
The foundation funded legal scholarship advancing the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect individual gun owners’ rights, as well as two groups that advocated handgun bans. And it paid to support a book called “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.”
Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation, which paid him more than $70,000 in directors fees, do not in any way conflict with his campaign-trail support for the rights of gun owners, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Obama’s presidential campaign, asserted in a statement issued to Politico this week.
LaBolt stressed that the foundation, which has assets of about $935 million, doesn’t take “detailed policy positions,” but rather uses its grants to “fuel a dialogue about how to address public policy issues like reducing gun violence.”
As with most foundations, Joyce did not record how individual board members voted on grants, but former Joyce officials told Politico that funding was typically approved unanimously. LaBolt said Obama, an Illinois senator, “does not remember each of the over 1,500 individual grant requests and his assessment of their merits, but he considered all requests in light of the foundation's goal of developing a robust public dialogue around reducing gun violence.”
Obama joined the board in the summer of 1994 as a 32-year-old lawyer who had yet to run for public office, but he already had a reputation in Chicago as an up-and-comer, particularly on issues related to low-income communities — a key foundation focus. By the time he left the board in the winter of 2002, as he was gearing up for his 2004 U.S. Senate bid, Obama had served six years in the Illinois state Senate and had also considered leaving politics to become the group’s full-time president, by his own acknowledgment.
Obama's service on the board of the Joyce Foundation and a few other Chicago-based nonprofits including the Woods Fund of Chicago remains one of the least scrutinized parts of his career. But it’s one that could hamper his efforts to woo populations of rural pro-gun voters in Pennsylvania, which votes April 22, and in a general election match-up with the presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
In his appeal to gun owners, Obama has not emphasized his own legislative record, which includes supporting a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month.
He has blamed his staff for indicating on a questionnaire filled out during his 1996 state Senate bid under his name that he supports banning “the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and served as president of the Harvard Law Review, has instead focused on his respect for what he contends are constitutionally guaranteed gun owners’ rights, the “passion” of hunters and the “tradition” of handgun ownership.
In February, he told an Idaho audience “I have no intention of taking away folks' guns.” Days later, when Politico asked him about the comment, he said, “It’s important for us to recognize that we’ve got a tradition of handgun ownership and gun ownership generally.”
Pressed to clarify his stance during a debate Wednesday evening in Philadelphia, Obama told ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, “I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns. What I think we can provide is common-sense approaches to the issue of illegal guns that are ending up on the streets.”
A white paper on his website states: “As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama … greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms” as well as “the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sport.” It says: “He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.”
This is why we're a tad concerned here. While he continues to say he'd support the individual's right to own a firearm, he always adds the caveat of supporting it for "hunters" and "sport shooters." And the Politico also makes a mistake when it comes to citing him on the DC gun ban case before the Supreme Court right now. The Politico claims that he hasn't taken a stance, yet in a search of the 'Net, several bloggers and pundits have located quotes where he has said he is in favor of "common sense legislation" of firearms. Those same comments are usually conjoined with citing Chicago's and DC's current bans.
I could give a rip if this guy taught Con Law at the University of Chicago or not. The simple fact, if one wishes to actually research the debates in the House over the Second Amendment when the Second Amendment was being adopted for the Constitution, is that the Founding Fathers believed it was as much an individual right as it was a collective right. At the time, the nation relied on it's able-bodied men to protect the security of the country. Once a military was raised, and remained, citizens still kept their firearms for protection.
The Second Amendment goes beyond sport shooters and hunters. It goes to the individual being able to protect themselves against aggressors. Senator Obama might want to go back and catch a remedial course on the rights of firearms owners.