National Rifle Association president David Keenes comments last week that the NRA sees President Barack Obama as the most anti-gun president in modern times, surely sounds like a joke to anyone honestly assessing the record. Obama hasnt proposed any anti-gun legislation during his first term, and his talk about gun control has been almost non-existent these last four years.
And when he has talked about the matter, it is often not a full-throated push for specific laws to deal with some of the problems but rather an acknowledgement that more can be done and that the country needs a new discussion or an honest and open conversation about firearms.
That call for an open and honest conversation on firearms is part of the draft 2012 Democratic National Convention gun control platform. As weve said before, platforms are mostly the work of party activists and arent binding for the partys standard-bearer. Yet platforms do show a partys values.
For some Democrats, this gun-control platform is falling short. Set for a final vote of delegates this week, the platform is being reamed as being too timid.
Timid might be too strong a word. The platform isnt namby-pamby about calling for a ban on assault weapons and legislation requiring all gun sellers not just licensed dealers to perform background checks on potential buyers. Its a repeat of language in the 2008 plank but welcome nonetheless.
Still, wed urge a stronger platform. It should push for laws to prevent buyers from purchasing unlimited quantities of ammunition online. It could also urge legislation that would require ammunition dealers to report bulk ammo sales to law enforcement. Those are sensible gun-control moves that are pertinent in light of recent mass shootings. One of those was the Aurora, Colo., movie theater killings, where the alleged gunman amassed mounds of ammunition from unlimited purchases online. Neither of those topics was broached in the draft Democratic platform.
The NRA has little evidence to back up fears about Obama and the Democratic Party. But the NRA has successfully cowed politicians on the left and the right from seriously broaching gun-control.
Thats a shame because though polls show most Americans agree with a persons right to bear arms, many also favor stricter gun laws. Working to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and curtailing the ability to buy unlimited ammunition, is not the same as bashing the Second Amendment. Many Americans realize this, and politicians must as well.
The Democrats are right. An honest and open conversation about firearms is imperative. The Republicans missed the opportunity last week at their convention. They adopted a platform that staunchly opposes common-sense restrictions, such as an assault weapons ban and federal licensing or registration of gun owners.
But to have an honest and open firearms conversation Democrats and Republicans must not allow any organization or persons to intimidate them on this matter. With a more aggressive gun-control platform, Democrats can start the ball rolling.