Barack Obama’s position on the total handgun ban in the District of Columbia has a slippery history. Although the Court overturned the ban in its decision today in District of Columbia v. Heller and Obama has released a statement that seems not to directly oppose the ruling, the position of the campaign in November was that he supported the ban. Since then, the campaign has called this formulation "inartful." Yes . . . it was very unlike the artful dodger to be so direct. As a defense of their slipperiness, ABC News reports that campaign spokesman Bill Burton argued that Obama had "refrained from developing a position on whether the D.C. gun law runs afoul of the Second Amendment." In other words, Obama’s campaign was "inartful" in claiming that Obama supported the DC gun ban because he didn’t develop any opinion about it at all?
John McCain points out that Barack Obama’s name was conspicuously missing from a bipartisan amicus brief (one that McCain, of course, signed) calling on the Court to decide the case in the way that they did today. And, of course, Chicago’s got a similar law . . . all of which led McCain to remember one of Obama’s most famous gaffes and come out of the box with this beautiful zinger: "Unlike the elitist view that believes Americans cling to guns out of bitterness, today’s ruling recognizes that gun ownership is a fundamental right -- sacred, just as the right to free speech and assembly."
I have to say that I like this side of McCain. It is refreshing (after so many years of the "new tone") to see the McCain using the words of his opponent against him and going after him like a pugilist who means to win. But I hope he will not drop it as the news cycle turns. Obama’s slippery opinions here are, more than likely, a window into his political soul. He’s hiding something of his real opinion here. Ken Blackwell noted it back in February and we had some discussion of it here. The question really comes down to something even more fundamental than Obama’s real view of gun control. McCain would do well to push this a bit.