Today, at the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre criticized Barack Obama for supposedly having supported a handgun ban. Pierre, who had previously described the federal agents who killed children and pregnant women at Waco, Texas in the early ’90s “jackbooted thugs,” delivered an address to CPAC this morning angry at Obama affiliates like Cass Sunstein who are less than wild about the roughing it lifestyle where you skin and cook your own squirrels.
At one point in his presentation, he proceeded to field strip and reassemble an M-16 in record time much to the jubilation and fawning of the crowd. Okay, kidding a little there.
It was an apparent position that led me to this exchange with the then candidate when the Virginia Governor endorsed him last year. I asked Obama, “What restrictions would you seek to place on semi-automatic weaponry in the United States? His answer went in RVA:
“My view has always been that the second amendment means something. Sportsmen and hunters, persons who want a firearm for their protection in their home should be permitted to have those arms. I have also been of the view, which is I think is shared by law enforcement officials all across the country, that if you’ve got semi-automatic weapons whose primary design and purpose is to kill human beings, that we should be able to place some prudent restrictions on that. And, look, I mean, there’s always gonna be violence in this society. And, you know, the roots of that violence extend well beyond the possession of firearms, but when you start getting into semi-automatic weapons where multiple people can be hurt, then I think it’s appropriate to look at some of those laws and tighten them.”
About a year ago, the Obama campaign, coming under increasing scrutiny for the senator’s record as a public servant in Illinois, received widespread criticism for a political opinion survey, which apparently expressed Barack Obama’s political opinions while he was a state senator. Here it is in full, thanks to Politico. Note the president’s handwriting under the section where there is inquiry regarding endorsement. The campaign contended that the answer in the affirmative regarding support for “state legislation” banning handguns was filled out by an aide and was a misrepresentation of the state senator’s views at the time. Assuming that this is to be believed, State Senator Obama must have entirely trusted the aide to complete the electronic portion before adding his own handwriting.
Unless Barack Obama was a very, very busy man who trusted his aides way too much, the campaign’s exact account was difficult to believe. Maybe instead of backpedaling, they just should have diffused the situation by claiming that he wanted to ban guns in a larger existential sense, like, man, if nobody had them. During his morning speech, LaPierre was sure to revisit the pro-gun talking point asking us to imagine if only the “bad guys” had guns.
As I listened to the speech, I found myself in the strange place of agreeing with positions forwarded by Obama’s liberal friend Sunstein and the NRA CEO himself. In tapes LaPierre played for the conference, Sunstein could be seen advocating that the mandatory printing of photos of meat processing on the products of factory farming. Meanwhile, he was disparaging the lifestyles of people who hunted and killed wild animals for food. It strikes me that, between eating most grocery store processed meat in the United States — sanitary looking, disconnected from the life of the original animal itself — hunting seems downright humane and humble. However, Sunstein’s original philosophical points, that people should be confronted with the process of seeing the animal they are eating die, carries a lot of weight unto itself. Ironically, both Sunstein and LaPierre want more Americans to see any meat they are eating die.