Obama’s Misfire on Gun Control
Unintended consequences: Many states are passing laws to loosen rules on guns.


Charles C. W. Cooke

We’ve all seen the cartoons on television. Our hapless protagonist, caught up in the heat of the moment, fails to notice that the barrel of his gun is bent backward toward his face. When he pulls the trigger, he hits himself, blowing his Stetson hat off — or worse.

Long before Barack Obama came fully out of the gun-control closet and dressed himself in the gaudy attire of the crusader, he held a solid claim to the title of Best Inadvertent Gun Salesman in History. His credentials are impeccable: Not only did Obama record for posterity his endorsement of “a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of handguns” on a 1996 political questionnaire, but, while running for president in 2008, he also discourteously characterized Americans who weren’t from New York City or San Francisco as “bitter” people who “cling” to guns and religion — summing up what progressives have long thought about gun owners and their recalcitrant accomplices in the “flyover states.”

Subsequent attempts to walk back the condescension proved fruitless. “My writing wasn’t on that particular questionnaire, Charlie,” he told Charlie Gibson during the 2008 Democratic primaries. “I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns.” The public appears not to believe him. A Huffington Post/YouGov poll from February of this year revealed that a plurality believe that the president would “ban handguns” and “repeal the Second Amendment” if he could.

Our beliefs determine our behavior. Since the president kicked off his post-Newtown tour, the citizens of the United States have been on what The Atlantic termed “an unprecedented gun-buying binge.” Here are the ten busiest weeks for the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Checks System) in its 15-year history:

  1. 12/17/2012  –  12/23/2012: 953,613 checks
  2. 01/14/2013  –  01/20/2013: 641,501 checks
  3. 02/11/2013  –  02/17/2013: 618,361 checks
  4. 01/07/2013  –  01/13/2013: 603,882 checks
  5. 12/10/2012  –  12/16/2012: 602,003 checks
  6. 02/04/2013  –  02/10/2013: 592,542 checks
  7. 02/25/2013  –  03/03/2013: 565,699 checks
  8. 02/18/2013  –  02/24/2013: 543,259 checks
  9. 01/21/2013  –  01/27/2013: 541,822 checks
  10. 12/03/2012  –  12/09/2012: 527,095 checks

As The Atlantic noted, “in the intervening 746 weeks since November 1998, the ten weeks with the most checks have all happened since the Newtown shooting.” These are but the high points of a remarkable trend. Since Obama took office in January of 2009, more than 66 million guns have been sold in the United States.