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Barack Obama & Gun Control: Effective and Shrewd

By David Kopel

The Encyclopedia Britannica Blog is running a series this week assessing the Obama presidency. My entry, with the title above, argues that President Obama has been successful at promoting gun control, taking into account the fact that Obama has faced a Congress with strong pro-gun majorities, and that the Obama administration determined to spend its finite political capital on other issues.

For a person who supports the agenda of the gun control lobbies, but who does not agree with the lobbies’ assertion that gun control is politically popular, President Obama’s low-key strategy has been intelligent and productive:

During the 2008 election, many people warned that Barack Obama was hostile to Second Amendment rights. Two years into the Obama presidency, has the warning proved accurate? Yes, it has—but with the important caveat that President Obama, unlike President Bill Clinton, has been thrifty in his expenditure of political capital to advance gun control.

Whatever else can be said about President Obama’s performance on the economy, he certainly helped stimulate the firearms business. From the time that Obama wrapped up the Democratic nomination in the summer of 2008, and continuing through most of 2009, Obama’s rise to power stimulated a tremendous surge in the purchases of firearms and ammunition. The last time that such a surge had taken place was in 1993-94, when many Americans accurately realized that President Clinton was pushing hard for dramatic restrictions on Second Amendment rights.

Read more here.


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