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September 07, 2008

Obama and Gun Confiscation

Friday Obama took some hits for this less-than-convincing answer to a question about gun bans. He said:

"If you've got a gun in your house, I'm not taking it," Obama said. But the Illinois senator could still see skeptics in the crowd, particularly on the faces of several men at the back of the room.

So he tried again. "Even if I want to take them away, I don't have the votes in Congress," he said. "This can't be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. Im not going to take away your guns."

The question was about gun bans. It's not clear from reports whether they were talking about gun regulation (for example, making it difficult to purchase a firearm) or gun confiscation or, more likely, didn't specify.

I, along with most others, thought he was talking about gun regulations. I had no real reason to believe that except that gun confiscation in this country is nearly unthinkable and when we talk about gun bans, we usually mean the kind of regulation that stops people from acquiring them, but not from keeping the ones they already have. Any presidential candidate to even flirt with the idea of confiscation would be quickly and unceremoniously booted off of the national stage.

But doubleplusundead makes the case that Obama really wants gun confiscation:

"If you've got a gun in your house, I'm not taking it," Obama said. But the Illinois senator could still see skeptics in the crowd, particularly on the faces of several men at the back of the room.

Take note of that line I underlined. The gun is in your house, meaning you own it, Obama says nothing about going out and purchasing a new firearm. He's not really lying in that statement, he probably won't be sending the authorities to kick down your door and empty your gun cabinet. Which is all irrelevant, because that isn't what the lady asked. She asked if Obama was going to support gun bans. Let's look at the rest of the quote,

So he tried again. "Even if I want to take them away, I don't have the votes in Congress," he said. "This can't be the reason not to vote for me. Can everyone hear me in the back? I see a couple of sportsmen back there. I'm not going to take away your guns."

Again, Obama didn't answer her question, he's answering a question about confiscation policy, she's asking about bans which would prevent purchase of certain (perhaps all?) firearms. This is a tricky rhetorical device to avoid answering her question. He won't answer her question, she won't say if he'll pursue bans.

Click over and read DPUD's whole thing, but then come back here and tell me what you think. Is the statement "even if I wanted to, I couldn't" really an admission that Obama wants to take away guns and not just ban their sale?

Does the distinction even matter? Are there some voters out there who would support gun bans, but not gun confiscation?


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:00 PM

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