Friday, August 29, 2008
Even before this week, the difference between Barack Obama and John McCain was clear. For one, McCain joined more than 300 other members of Congress in signing a "friend of the court" brief, in District of Columbia v. Heller, urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of the Second Amendment and against D.C.'s handgun ban.
Obama refused to sign the Heller brief, and supports reinstituting the Clinton gun and magazine ban. He also supports Ted Kennedy's bill to ban semi-automatic handguns in the guise of "micro-stamping," and supports banning inexpensive handguns as "junk guns."
But now that each candidate has chosen his running mate, the difference is even clearer than before. And when it comes to guns, the two prospective vice-presidents are as far apart as the states from which they hail.
Sen. McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is a NRA Life Member and hunter who says, "I support our Constitutional right to bear arms and am a proponent of gun safety programs for Alaska's youth," adding "I have always strongly supported the personal use of fish and game by Alaskans. I grew up hunting and fishing in Alaska, and I am proud to raise my children with this same uniquely Alaskan heritage."
NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox says "Governor Palin doesn't just talk about supporting the Second Amendment, it's part of her life, and she did her part to vindicate the Second Amendment for all Americans when Alaska joined 30 other states in signing a legal brief supporting Heller's challenge to the D.C. gun-ban."
As for Joe Biden, from Delaware, the Brady Campaign sums it up in a straightforward enough fashion, saying, "Senator Biden has been a consistent supporter of the Brady Campaign," and "Senator Biden was a key player in the fight for the federal assault weapons ban that passed in 1994. He also worked hard for passage of the Brady Law (sic)."
In fact, Biden introduced an "assault weapons" ban in Congress five years before the Clinton gun and magazine ban was imposed. In 1989, Biden's Senate Bill 1970 proposed to ban the Colt AR-15 and eight similar firearms as "assault weapons," and authorize the Secretary of the Treasury (in reality, BATF) and the Attorney General to recommend to Congress any other firearms, regardless of type, to be banned as "additional assault weapons."
As lead sponsor of the Senate crime bill to which the Feinstein gun ban amendment was attached, Biden was instrumental in the passage of the 1994 Clinton gun and magazine ban. Biden reiterated his support for the ban—and, in fact, took credit for authoring it—in response to a question at the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this year (to view the video, please click here).
Biden voted for the ban on a stand-alone vote in 1993, and voted to extend the ban in 2004 as an amendment to the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act." He also included a renewal of the ban in his crime bill last year, along with gun show restrictions.
Currently, Biden's S. 2237 proposes to renew the Clinton ban on roughly 200 makes and models of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns on the basis of things like the shape of their grips, and on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, regardless of the kind of firearm in which they are used.
As if that's not enough, Biden voted against the law that prohibits lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding firearm manufacturers and dealers. He also refused to sign the Congressional brief in Heller, and voted to confirm only one of the five justices who ruled in favor of the Second Amendment in Heller, yet he voted to confirm all four justices who voted against the Second Amendment in that case.
To put it simply, Gov. Sarah Palin would be one of the most pro-gun vice-presidents in American history, and Joe Biden would definitely be the most anti-gun.