The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting opinion piece by David Kopel on April 17. The angle: Are the two Democrat candidates misrepresenting their positions on gun rights to gain an edge in the Pennsylvania Democrat primary?
On page 19 of WSJ, Kopel wrote, “Imagine an election race of Pat Robertson versus James Dobson, each of them appearing at organic grocery stores and Starbucks throughout Massachusetts, with each candidate insisting that he alone deserves the vote of gay-marriage advocates. An equally silly spectacle is taking place these days in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky, as Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama compete for the pro-gun vote.”
Obama and his surrogates have been claiming all over Pennsylvania that he supports the Second Amendment. Probably a smart move, since the state has the highest per-capita membership in the National Rifle Association.
Kopel noted, however, that Obama’s “…effort was set back last weekend with the publication of Mr. Obama’s remarks claiming that people in small towns in Pennsylvania and other Midwestern states ‘cling’ to guns because they are ‘bitter’ that the government has not solved their economic problems.”
Kopel pointed out that Clinton shot back in a speech in Valparaiso, Ind., in which she said people enjoy hunting and shooting because it’s an important part of who they are, “not because they are bitter.”
Kopel then wrote, “Surely she is right. The shooting sports culture in Pennsylvania was thriving long before the domestic manufacture of steel began to decline. Indeed, that culture was thriving before steel was invented. Pennsylvania’s 1776 state constitution declared ‘That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state….’ A separate provision guaranteed ‘the liberty to fowl and hunt in seasonable times.’”
About Obama, Kopel then wrote, “However, having the right to arms and the liberty to hunt is worthless if you can’t buy a gun. In 1999, Mr. Obama urged enactment of a federal law prohibiting the operation of any gun store within five miles of a school or park. This would eliminate gun stores from almost the entire inhabited portion of the United States.”