The Corner

Obama on Guns

Yuval: One of my regular correspondents took issue with my listing guns as an issue on which Obama has abandoned or downplayed his previous commitments. He quoted Obama’s full statement:

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.

Then my correspondent added,

If you parse that in a Clintonian fashion, I don’t think there’s anything to indicate Obama wouldn’t have signed onto the dissent, had he been on the court (note the first lines of Stevens’s dissent:  “The question presented by this case is not whether the Second Amendment protects a “collective right” or an “individual right.” Surely it protects a right that can be enforced by individuals.”). Where’s the flip-flop?

He makes a pretty good point, although I still have in my defense the fact that Obama retracted his campaign’s claim that he supported the D.C. gun ban. (Obama said the campaign’s response had been “inartful.” Can’t say that about his own comments!) 

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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