Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Obama and the NRA

marjorie says...

The U.S. Supreme Court last week turned up the heat on the gun control debate when it ruled that individuals have a constitutional right to own handguns. The case, District of Columbia v Heller, challenged Washington D.C.'s 32-year-old ban on handgun ownership, which many say was the strictest in the nation. It barred most residents from owning handguns and required that legal firearms be kept unloaded and under trigger lock if not disassembled.

The majority opinion of the court was unequivocal, saying it had "no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.''

Barack Obama says he thinks the Supreme Court made the right decision, going so far as to characterize it as an endorsement of views he holds:

"I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms, but I also identify with the need for crime-ravaged communities to save their children from the violence that plagues our streets through common-sense, effective safety measures. The Supreme Court has now endorsed that view, and while it ruled that the D.C. gun ban went too far, Justice Scalia himself acknowledged that this right is not absolute and subject to reasonable regulations enacted by local communities to keep their streets safe. Today's ruling, the first clear statement on this issue in 127 years, will provide much-needed guidance to local jurisdictions across the country.

As President, I will uphold the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun-owners, hunters, and sportsmen. I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact common-sense laws, like closing the gun show loophole and improving our background check system, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe."

But that's not enough for the National Rifle Association. It still think he's a threat when it comes to the type of judge he'd nominate to the Supreme Court. Chris Cox, head of the NRA's political arm, told Politico that the organization would spend at least $40 million to influence the fall election, with $15 million of that targeted directly at Obama. According to Politico:

This fall, NRA members will get automated phone calls, mail pieces and pre-election editions of the group’s three magazines making the case against Obama. More broadly, the group will use an independent expenditure effort to hammer the Democratic nominee via TV, radio and newspaper ads in some of about 15 battleground states in the Midwest and Mountain West.

Cox also sounds a little bitter about Obama: “We look forward to showing him ‘bitter,” Cox told Politico, later adding that if the NRA has its way, there will be plenty of "moderates" who are "stuck on bitter."

At the same time, Cox agreed that McCain wasn't all that great either, from the perspective of the NRA. McCain is in favor of background checks at gun shows, according to Politico. Nor is McCain a hunter.

Here in New Mexico it's legal for an individual to own a handgun. And before the Supreme Court decision, our Attorney General, Gary King, joined 30 other AG's in filing an amicus brief supporting the effort to strike down the D.C. ban. An amicus brief is essentially a position paper filed with the court, in this case outlining why they thought Washington D.C.'s handgun ban went too far.

The Attorney Generals made the case that the second amendment text protected the individual's right to bear arms. "Because the Second Amendment’s text recognizes a “right,” not a “power,” and guarantees that right to “the people” and not “the States,” the AG's argued, "it necessarily secures an individual right to keep and bear arms."

They stopped short, though, of saying the amendment conferred an absolute right not subject to regulation. "Reasonable minds," they said, "can differ about the Second Amendment’s scope—that is, about which government regulations are permissible. And subsequent cases may well present difficult questions about where precisely to draw that line."

In the wake of the Heller decision just last week, it seems we're about to enter into a rejuvenated, and most likely prolonged, debate on what that scope actually is. Because the NRA isn't just targeting Obama.

The organization along with other anti-gun control groups are taking aim at gun control laws across the nation. For instance, the NRA filed suit last Thursday to overturn handgun laws in Chicago. And in Georgia, which allows citizens to carry concealed weapons, a gun rights group has even filed suit challenging a ban on guns in Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

Cross-posted at the New Mexico Independent.