Jacob Sullum

As a state legislator, Obama voted against a bill shielding people who use handguns for self-defense in their homes from prosecution for violating local gun registration rules. Most tellingly, Obama has repeatedly expressed support for local handgun bans such as the District of Columbia's, which the Supreme Court overturned, and Chicago's, which faces a constitutional challenge.

"What works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne," Obama says. The line, meant to reassure gun owners, highlights his peculiar view that the extent of an American's constitutional rights depends on where he lives.

The specifics of Obama's views may turn out to be less important than the sense that he's an urban sophisticate who is unfamiliar with firearms and does not even understand the gun control laws he supports. In a 2004 debate, Obama explained the rationale for the "assault weapon" ban this way: "Unless you're seeing a lot of deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests, then there is no purpose for many of the guns." He thereby conflated the "assault weapon" and "armor-piercing bullet" issues, apparently not realizing that ordinary hunting ammunition can penetrate "bullet-proof vests."

The NRA ads seek to reinforce the impression of Obama's cluelessness. "Where is this guy from?" asks the hunter. "He's probably never been hunting a day in his life." Two of the ads allude to Obama's notorious comment that working-class voters in Pennsylvania and the Midwest "get bitter" during hard economic times and "cling to guns or religion." What will Obama cling to when voters question his commitment to the Second Amendment?


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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