By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman Breaking up is so hard to do. Judging from the Democratic Party platform, remarks from presidential nominee Barack Obama and his selection of anti-gun Sen. Joseph Biden as a running mate, the long, transparent courtship of gun owners by Democrats is over and instead of a goodbye kiss, there was a slap in the face; the political approximation of a domestic assault. It was inevitable. After Democrats lost Congress in 1994 because their actions brought legions of angry gun owners to the polls, the party re-packaged its rhetoric and tried to sell itself as a friend of the Second Amendment. American gun owners, who are increasingly becoming gun rights activists, are not the fools Democrats think they are.
As we note in our new book These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War On Guns, Democrats earned their reputation as being the party of gun control. Instead of rhetoric, they need to repudiate their long-standing animosity toward gun owner rights. The party platform tries to patronize gun owners by claiming to “recognize that the right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ continued Second Amendment right to own and use firearms.”
But then the document quickly reveals that Democrats have changed their tune but not their agenda: “We can work together to enact and enforce common-sense laws and improvements, like closing the gun show loophole, improving our background check system and reinstating the assault weapons ban…” Gun owners know that the ten-year “ban” on so-called “assault weapons” – which included more than 200 types of commonly-owned firearms – had no measurable impact on violent crime, and that reinstating it is all about symbolism rather than substance.
They know that gun shows are the source of less than one percent of guns used by violent criminals. They know anti-gunners believe “common-sense laws” include licensing, registration and a surrender of the “right to carry” to the discretionary whims of police chiefs and sheriffs. The party chose Obama as its standard-bearer. He once served on the board of the vehemently anti-firearms civil rights Joyce Foundation.
During his first run for public office he supported a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns and semi-automatic rifles. He supports mandatory waiting periods on all gun purchases. He told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in April that “I am not in favor of concealed weapons,” insulting millions of armed citizens who care about self-defense in the process.
Gun owners know Biden as an anti-gun extremist. He consistently earns “F” ratings from gun rights organizations. He claimed credit for writing the original legislation to ban semiautomatic sport-utility rifles that are owned by millions of Americans who have harmed nobody.
The proverbial last straw for the firearms community was Obama’s remark during his acceptance speech that “The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
The “reality” is that gun rights are the same for everyone, no matter where they live. And gun owners know from experience that Democrats falsely believe that the only way to keep guns away from criminals is to oppressively regulate gun ownership for everyone. Mr. Obama told his faithful that Sen. McCain “doesn’t get it.” Actually, Democrats “don’t get it.”
You do not woo people by treating them like criminals, and you cannot “support” someone’s civil right at the same time you regulate it to irrelevancy. It is now clear to gun owners that Democrats only asked them to the dance just to get through the door.