Four More Years… Assessing the Threat Obama Poses to Gun Owners in his Second Term

Unless you were hiding under a rock yesterday, you know that President Barack Obama was elected to a second term in office. 

Thinking about this in binary terms, i.e. good news v. bad news, the good news is that the sky is not falling. In fact, on the contrary, the firearms and ammunition industry will probably experience a second Obama “gun boom.”

Please recall what Sturm, Ruger CEO Michael O. Fifer said about Obama’s re-election prospects in July of 2011. 

“I think half of the people in the firearms industry, if asked, would hope [Obama] is not President, but then will secretly go out and vote for him again,” Fifer told Bloomberg News in an interview.   

So, due to the angst, and in some cases fear, many gun owners have about Obama’s “true intentions” when it comes to gun control, which subsequently compels them to go out and splurge on firearms and stockpile ammo, those who are employed by, or own, or have stock in firearms and ammunition companies can expect four more years of growth and prosperity.  That’s good news, right? 

Gun sales under the Obama Administration.Okay, now for the bad news.  That is, gun owners will have to be more vigilant and more politically engaged than ever before.  The reason?  There is legitimate cause for concern that Obama will do something over the course of his second term that jeopardizes our Second Amendment rights. 

Supreme Court Appointments – Along with the National Rifle Association, I’ve said this is the biggest threat Obama poses to gun owners.  We can’t afford another Sotomayor or Kagan on the bench. 

Right now, there are four justices over the age of 70 (Scalia, 76, Kennedy, 76, Ginsburg, 79, and Breyer, 74).  Should one of the more conservative-leaning Justices retire, Scalia or Kennedy, then the pro-gun balance of the high court will be thrown off kilter.  Remember, District of Columbia v. Heller (which struck down the D.C. handgun ban) passed by one vote, 5-4. 

While it’s unlikely that Scalia or Kennedy retire during term two, this is definitely something to keep a close watch on. 

U.N. Arms Trade Treaty – There’s been a lot of conjecture concerning the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, but thus far, nothing has really materialized (Remember, the U.S. backed out of negotiations this fall).  Will U.S. ambassadors renew efforts to draft a robust and comprehensive global ATT in the next few years? 

Probably.  But remember, there’s a firewall of sorts here in the U.S.  That is, the Senate needs to approve the ATT by a two-thirds majority in order for it to be ratified.

Prior to the election, there were 58 Senators to who signed a letter drafted by  Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), which stated:

“The Arms Trade Treaty must not in any way regulate the domestic manufacture, possession or sales of firearms of ammunition.  Firearms possession is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment and that cannot be subordinated, directly or indirectly by any international treaty.”

Given the fact that there hasn’t been much turnover in the senate this election, I’d imagine that this firewall is still relatively intact. 

Assault Weapons Ban – Obama explicitly stated that he would flirt with the idea of reintroducing a Clinton-Era AWB in the second presidential debate:

“…But I also share your belief that weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets,” Obama said.

The second presidential debate with President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Gov. Mitt Romney.“And so what I’m trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap handguns.”

Will Obama forcefully endorse an AWB? It’s difficult to say. He certainly has other pressing matters to handle in the immediate future like the economy, the budget crisis, immigration reform, just to name a few, but down the road it’s possible that the pro-gun control crowd (led by NYC Mayor Bloomberg, who endorsed Obama at the last minute) will get the president to champion some form of gun control. 

But like the ATT, there is an obstacle in place to passing gun control at the federal level: the House of Representatives, which is dominated by pro-gun lawmakers in the GOP. 

So, the present reality is that attempting to pass any type of gun control legislation would be an uphill battle for the president.  Given the hyper-partisan climate of Washington and the fact that Obama has a very limited supply of political capital, choosing to back gun control over the next year or so would be a disaster. 

It would only reinforce the divide in Washington and hamstring his efforts to get other, actually important, stuff done.  So, on this front, at least for the time being, I think we’re in good shape.  But as we all know, the political environment is subject to change.

Conclusion

Homeland Security Advisory SystemOkay, so, perhaps the best way to encapsulate my thoughts on Obama’s second term is to use the Homeland Security Advisory System, which is a color-coded terrorism threat advisory scale. 

Instead of “terrorism” in the broad sense of the word, I’m using it to mean “governmental terrorism” with respect to our 2nd Amendment rights, i.e. the current threat level the Obama administration poses to our right to keep and bear arms (I hope that’s clear).

From my standpoint, looking at the chart, I would say we are at a threat level “Blue” or “Guarded” right now.  There is a general risk that President Obama does something to infringe upon the Second Amendment (this, as noted, can change). 

As mentioned, we need to be more wary and cautious and politically active moving forward.  We need to be ready to rally at a moment’s notice, should something onerous come down the pike from the Oval Office.  

Anyways, those are my thoughts.  From your perspective, given what you’ve seen over the past four years and more recently in the debates, where do you peg us on the “Obama 2nd Amendment” threat chart?

Photo Credit: Bloomberg News

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