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Standing Guard: Barack Obama's Slippery Oratory

Friday, April 11, 2008

Click here to download a pdf version of this Standing Guard Column.

To understand Barack Obama on the Second Amendment, you have to know about the clash of character between the then-Chicago state senator and an ordinary citizen who exercised his right to armed self-defense in violation of a local gun ban.

That citizen was a 52-year-old resident of Wilmette, Illinois, who, on Dec. 28, 2003, woke to find that, during the night, his home had been invaded by a career criminal; a thief who stole household items, keys and the homeowner’s car.

The victim, Hale DeMar, described his fear in a letter to the Chicago Sun- Times: “For me, the seconds until I found my children still safely tucked in their beds were horrifying . . . The police were called and in routine fashion they came, took the report and with little concern left, promising to increase surveillance. Little comfort, since the invader now had keys to our home and our automobiles. The police informed me that this was not an uncommon event in east Wilmette and offered their condolences . . .” Not 24 hours after the first burglary, the thief returned. Using DeMar’s house keys, the man entered the home, this time setting off the alarm system, automatically notifying the security company. Given the previous night’s lackluster response by police, DeMar was prepared, armed with a handgun--legally purchased years before and kept in a safe. But under Wilmette’s gun ban, that firearm in the home was illegal.

Using words like “protecting sportsmen,” Obama is now saying that he believes in the Second Amendment “ but with almost universal exceptions, all of which he lists under the heading of “common sense gun safety laws.”

DeMar confronted the criminal, and believing his children were in danger, shot the burglar, who then fled the home.

“Until you are shocked by a piercing alarm in the middle of the night and met in your kitchen by a masked invader as your children shudder in their beds, until you confront that very real nightmare, please don’t suggest that some village trustee knows better “ “If my actions have spared only one family from the distress and trauma that this habitual criminal has caused hundreds of others, then I have served my civic duty and taken one evil creature off of our streets, something that our impotent criminal justice system had failed to do, despite some thirty odd arrests, plea bargains and suspended sentences.” The burglar, who was arrested after driving DeMar’s stolen SUV to a hospital, had an extensive criminal record.

Cook County prosecutors ultimately declared DeMar’s use of a firearm to be justified. But Wilmette village officials pressed nonetheless to prosecute him for illegal possession of his handgun--a charge punishable by a huge fine and jail time. A town official was quoted in Reason magazine saying, “We need to set the example that we’re trying to protect our citizens.” And he said, DeMar--by possessing a legally purchased handgun--”is endangering innocent civilians.” The outcry of the Illinois public was heard all the way to the state capitol.

As a result, the Illinois House and Senate passed legislation in May 2004 to protect citizens who use handguns in self-defense in their homes or businesses despite local handgun bans.

The House accepted the DeMar selfdefense bill by a vote of 86-25 and the Senate moved the legislation on a 38-20 vote.

And here lies the seminal moment for state Senator Barack Obama. When Obama turned thumbs down on the bill, he voted against the most basic element of the Second Amendment-- the right of defense of self and family-- the reason that millions of Americans own firearms.

When the governor vetoed the bill, Obama once again voted against a citizen’s right to self-defense. Despite his vote, the veto override passed the Senate and the House by overwhelming majorities, thereby enacting this bill into law.

Now, fast forward to today’s slippery oratory of U.S. Sen. Barack Obama just three years from being an unknown state senator--now morphed by the media into a spellbinding U.S. senator seeking to be president of the United States.

Using words like “protecting sportsmen,” Obama is now saying that he believes in the Second Amendment “ but with almost universal exceptions, all of which he lists under the heading of “common sense gun safety laws.” “Common sense gun safety” and the Second Amendment? Like endorsing the D.C. gun ban, which outlaws armed self-defense in the home--now being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court. Obama, who as president would be in the position to nominate justices to that high court, has declared that the D.C. ban doesn’t violate the Second Amendment.

Obama’s alleged support of the Second Amendment is utterly cynical and false.

“Common sense gun safety” and the Second Amendment? In a “1998 National Political Awareness Test,” he pledged to support a “Ban [on] the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons”--meaning most handguns and many rifles and shotguns that you and I own.

“Common sense gun safety” and the Second Amendment? Like demanding that the federal government preempt the 40 hard-won state laws creating Right-to-Carry.

Here’s how the Chicago Tribune put it: “Obama said he opposed allowing ordinary citizens to carry concealed weapons and that a federal law banning concealed carried weapons except for law enforcement is needed.” “Common sense gun safety” and the Second Amendment? Like the draconian proposals funded to the tune of $18,000,000 by the rabidly anti-gun Joyce Foundation while Obama was an activist member of its board of directors.

Obama’s alleged support of the Second Amendment is utterly cynical and false. Barack Obama is not for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms; he's out to destroy it.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.