As you read this column, Election Day 2012 is imminent. Hard as it may be for some of you to believe, that are going to be a fairly large number of people who regularly read SGN who either considering voting for Obama, or perhaps not voting at all. Please: unless you are looking forward to America being in civil war or something like the terrifying future of the movie Mad Max, you must do your best to help defeat Obama.
Why, you are asking, would anyone who cares about guns vote for Obama? After the 2008 election, I received letters from readers asking what Obama had done to make any gun owner skeptical of him. It is certainly true that in the four years since Obama was elected president, he has done nothing of any importance that directly impaired the rights of gun owners. But this has had more to do with political realities than with Obama’s good intentions.
The Democratic Party, while it has some pro-gun elected officials, is dominated by those who are fiercely hostile to gun ownership, and will work at whatever mechanisms that they can to disarm law-abiding Americans. But they aren’t complete fools; they recognize that over the last 20 years, there has been a momentous change in attitudes about gun ownership in America, and a direct assault on gun rights is, in much of the country, political suicide. It was a rather astonishing moment when, early in 2009, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Attorney-General Eric Holder to stop talking about a ban on assault weapons.1 (Holder was pushing for a permanent federal assault weapon ban like the one that expired in 2004.)2
Unfortunately, while Obama has taken no direct action against gun owners, he has taken a number of rather indirect steps to accomplish the same ends. The Department of Justice’s Inspector-General has just issued a scathing report on Fast & Furious, holding a number of officials in the Department of Justice accountable for allowing guns to be smuggled into Mexico for the use of drug gangs. The report recommends that the Justice Department “review the actions of 14 officials and consider whether disciplinary action is warranted.”
This includes officials surprisingly high up the bureaucracy, including “former acting deputy attorney general Gary Grindler, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, former acting ATF director Kenneth Melson, former ATF special agent in charge William Newell and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein.” The report found no evidence that Attorney-General Holder knew about this program.3 Perhaps it is true: Holder might not have known. But in light of both Holder and Obama’s strongly held positions in support of restrictive gun control, especially assault weapon bans, you will forgive my skepticism that we know the full story.
It is possible that Obama and Holder did not know about Fast & Furious. It might well be the case that subordinates, knowing their bosses’ position about gun control, cooked up this harebrained scheme in the hopes of making Obama and Holder happy. This does not make Obama responsible for this dangerous debacle. It is a reminder that having someone at the top of the government who supports gun control increases the likelihood that some low level bureaucrat will decide that go after law-abiding gun owners is a good idea. And the same news report that listed the 14 officials in need of disciplinary review, also tells us that Holder “will not be taking any further disciplinary actions against department employees, including Grindler, who is now his chief of staff.”4
If Holder was upset about this stunt that caused several deaths of Americans, including Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, and hundreds of deaths in Mexico, this is a weird way of showing it.
It has been apparent from when the news of Fast & Furious first broke that the reason that no serious effort was made to stop the guns at the Mexican border was because the goal was to use the violence problem in Mexico as a justification for additional restrictions on firearms in the United States. To think that re-electing Obama is going to change this situation is silly. The mechanism won’t be the same, but the Obama Administration will come up with some other scheme instead.
There’s another factor: appointments to the federal bench. It is no surprise to me that Obama’s appointments to the Supreme Court have been consistently against us on the one major Second Amendment decision since he started appointing justices:Â McDonald v. Chicago (2010). Nor is there any reason to think that his appointments in his second term are going to be any friendlier to the Second Amendment. Support for gun control has become as much a litmus test for Democratic appointments to the federal bench as abortion rights. Right now, the Second Amendment enjoys a 5-4 split on the Supreme Court. I shudder to think of what will happen if one of those five were to retire during Obama’s second term.
There’s another group of SGN readers that concern me on Election Day: the ones who are so disenchanted with Mitt Romney that they decide that it doesn’t really matter who wins. Romney was not my first choice, either. In many areas, he is a little too squishy for me to develop any wild enthusiasm. But gun rights isn’t one of those areas.
As governor of Massachusetts, it is true that Romney signed a gun control lawâ€”but even hardcore gun rights activists there give Romney credit for doing the best that he could with what is, after all, a fiercely antigun legislature. And even a squish on guns (which Romney really isn’t) would be an improvement over someone like Obama, who is not a squish at all, but an open enemy.
I am not asking you to be thrilled at voting for Romney, but I want you to consider the real possibility that allowing Obama to get elected will mean one to three more antigun Supreme Court justices, and a continual stream of efforts through the regulatory agencies to limit or restrict gun rights. None of these will be spectacularly blatantâ€”Congress would not stand for thatâ€”but collectively, the results will still be trouble.
Some of you are probably saying, “But I live in a state where it doesn’t matter if I vote. California is going to go for Obama anyway, or Idaho is going to go for Romney anyway.” It is true that because of how the Electoral College works, unless you are in one of the “swing states,” a few votes either way isn’t going to much matter for settling the election.
But what if Romney wins a majority of the electoral votesâ€”but a minority of the popular vote? It has happened before; it happened in 2000, and this was one of the many arguments that the talking heads used to denigrate the importance of Bush’s election. Let’s see what we can do to give Obama not just a defeat in electoral votes, but in popular votes as well. I don’t want to give the talking heads on television any excuses to argue that Romney lacks “a mandate.” What I do want is to see those talking heads sputtering so madly that steam comes out of their ears.
1. Sam Youngman, “Cabinet picks throw wrench into message,” The Hill, March 2, 2009,
2. Jason Ryan, “Obama to Seek New Assault Weapons Ban,” ABC News, February 25, 2009,
3. Sari Horowitz, “Inspector general’s report on ‘Fast and Furious‘ criticizes Justice Dept., ATF”, Washington Post, September 19, 2012, last accessed September 19, 2012.