Barack Hussein Obama is a radical leftwing democrat from Chicago, a city where private ownership of handguns is banned. But the upcoming Pennsylvania primary will play a crucial role in the bitterly contested race for the democrat party’s nomination, and Obama, as the Politico reports, is not letting his record of total and complete support for gun control and gun confiscation stop him from going after the votes of Pennsylvania gun owners.
After all, Obama knows just how stupid those deer hunting hicks really are. All he has to do is make a deal to gain the endorsement of a backwoods democrat state rep from Elk County to vouch for his acceptability to sportsmen, and do a little of his personally patented fancy footwork around the issue, and he’ll get plenty of rube votes.
He’s not pro-Gun Control. Goodness gracious, mercy me, no! He’s a Constitutional Law professor, and supports the individual right to keep and bear arms (for hunting and target shooting). He’s merely for “reasonable and common sense” regulations, which you can bet will limit you to owning very limited types and calibers of firearms and ammunition, and which will allow you to own guns as long as you obtain the necessary permits and register each and every one, and then keep them locked up, inaccessible, and unusable except at the properly licensed shooting range or hunting facility at which you actually be permitted to use them under proper supervision, of course.
Barack Obama did not hunt or fish as a child. He lives in a big city. And as an Illinois state legislator and a U.S. senator, he consistently backed gun control legislation.
But he is nevertheless making a play for pro-gun voters in rural Pennsylvania.
By highlighting his background in constitutional law and downplaying his voting record, Obama is engaging in a quiet but targeted drive to win over an important constituency that on the surface might seem hostile to his views.
The need to craft a strategy aimed at pro-gun voters underscores the potency of the issue in Pennsylvania, which claims one of the nationâ€™s highest per capita membership rates in the National Rifle Association.
It also could provide clues as to whether Obama, as one of the Senateâ€™s more liberal members, can position himself as an acceptable choice to a conservative-minded demographic in later primary contests and in the general election.
â€œGuns are a cultural lens through which they view candidates,â€ said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a progressive think tank. â€œIf you are seen as way off on that issue, then you seem way off on everything. If you are seen as OK, if the lens is clearer, then they continue to look at you and size you up on other things.â€
â€œFor Obama, who is less known and is from Chicago, a city guy and an African American, the feeling is that he is anti-gun,â€ Kessler continued. â€œBy handling the Second Amendment correctly, he starts to get a hearing among these folks.â€
Obama aides would not discuss the campaignâ€™s strategy. While the effort so far in Pennsylvania appears modest, it is noteworthy for a race that has largely avoided such direct engagement with gun owners.
The campaign has asked gun rights advocates like state Rep. Dan Surra, a Democrat from rural Elk County with an â€œA+â€ rating from the NRA, to form a coalition of supporters who can vouch for Obama.
â€œIt is clear out there that I am for Obama, and they have reached out to me as a sportsman and a gun owner,â€ Surra said Thursday. â€œThere has been an outreach to pro-gun legislators, pro-gun people who are sympathetic to Obamaâ€™s message.â€
The campaign sent an e-mail this week to the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmenâ€™s Clubs, saying it would â€œappreciate all sportsmen taking time to learn the facts: Our candidate strongly supports the right and traditions of sportsmen throughout Pennsylvania and the United States of America.â€
And with an endorsement last month from Sen. Bob Casey Jr., Obama got a boost within a community that the Pennsylvania Democrat has courted assiduously. As part of an initiative to move beyond his partyâ€™s traditional bases during the 2006 Senate campaign, Casey visited stock car races, demolition derbies and gun clubs. Campaign operatives to both senators are now working closely together.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton does not appear to be making the same level of effort. She has reminded audiences in the last few months that she learned to shoot a gun during childhood vacations in Scranton and bagged a duck as an adult. But neither the state Federation of Sportsmenâ€™s Clubs nor her pro-gun Democratic supporters have heard of any specific campaign outreach. …
Obama has long backed gun-control measures, including a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month. He has declined to take a stance on the legality of the handgun prohibition in Washington, D.C., which the U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing, although Obama has voiced support for the right of state and local governments to regulate guns.
In the Senate, he and Clinton broke on one vote, in July 2006. Siding with gun-rights advocates, Obama voted to prohibit the confiscation of firearms during an emergency or natural disaster. Clinton was one of 16 senators to oppose the amendment.
A two-page white paper on Obamaâ€™s website doesnâ€™t mention his voting record.
Instead, he introduces himself as a former constitutional law professor who â€œbelieves the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he greatly respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms.â€
â€œHe will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting,â€ the paper states. â€œHe also believes that the right is subject to reasonable and common sense regulation.â€
Melody Zullinger, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs who received the Obama campaign e-mail on his gun record, said Obama sounds like he is â€œspeaking out of both sides of his mouth.â€
â€œI was at one of our county meetings last night and I mentioned this to [federation members],â€ Zullinger said Friday of the Obama outreach. â€œEveryone basically blew it off and werenâ€™t buying it.â€
Obamaâ€™s approach is similar to one advocated by Third Way, which issued a seven-step blueprint in 2006 to close the â€œgun gapâ€ with Republicans. In a memo on its website, the group urges progressives to avoid silence on gun issues, and instead â€œredefine the issue in a way that appeals to gun owning voters.â€