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Obama Get Your Gun

So I’m on a months-long waiting list for my evil black rifle. Apparently since November supplies of weapons and ammunition have been severely outpaced by demand. There are myriad factors at play, of course: global metal prices; military demand; corporate greed. But most of it is good old-fashioned suburban white fear. Once the scary black man takes our guns, how will we stop him from enforcing mandatory gay marriages to crackheads on welfare?

Just to be clear, I am strongly in favor of gun rights. I see nothing ambiguous about the Second Amendment, and I’m pretty sure I know why it’s near the top (hint: it isn’t because the Founding Fathers hated deer). I’m also pretty liberal, at least compared to most “gun nuts”. Which is why the fear-mongering and outright misinformation bothers me so much. Obama hasn’t made a public statement in favor of gun control (that didn’t relate to cracking down on illegal handguns) since 2004, and that was in the context of renewing the Assault Weapons Ban. Most recently, in response to Heller, he said, “… if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.” That’s the Democratic Party’s new deal: gun control will stay buried in exchange for the votes of gun-owning social progressives.

The blackout on the issue is near total. Obama dodged it (adroitly, even his staunchest critics must admit) during the election, and it isn’t mentioned at the White House website, save for this tangential statement under “Additional Issues“:

President Obama did not grow up hunting and fishing, but he recognizes the great conservation legacy of America’s hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sports. Were it not for America’s hunters and anglers, including the great icons like Theodore Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, our nation would not have the tradition of sound game management, a system of ethical, science-based game laws and an extensive public lands estate on which to pursue the sport. The President and Vice President recognize that we must forge a broad coalition if we are to address the great conservation challenges we face. America’s hunters and anglers are a key constituency that must take an active role and have a powerful voice in this coalition.

And it’s a reasonable compromise, at least as far as can be expected in politics, and arguably one of the key elements contributing to the Democratic sweep of the 2008 elections. Nonetheless, in the absence of a clearly articulated policy on gun rights, rumors will continue. Speculation will continue. A vague sense of unease will continue. And Americans have plenty of other things to be vaguely uneasy about right now.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Thomas Paine wrote. Talk about a drama queen. Dickens was a little less messianic. Yes, he counseled, these may be the worst of times… but they are also the best of times. Despair and optimism can always be found in equal measure if one is willing to seek them out. Tipping the national zeitgeist a little more in favor of the latter certainly can’t hurt.

In the meantime, though, can someone at the White House stage a photo op with Obama shooting skeet or something? I want my rifle already.

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