Second Amendment

Apr 152008

Barak Obama says we keep talking past each other on the issue of guns. And if the following from the Washington Post represents his position, I guess we can take that to be a confession of his own sins in the matter.

You know, I believe, for example, that on guns, that if you look at a state like mine in Illinois, there are two realities and two traditions that I think are representative of what takes place in the country.

If you go to downstate Illinois, which is closer to Kentucky than it is to Chicago, people view gun ownership as part of deeply held traditions that are passed on from one generation to the other.

And not understanding the importance of those traditions, the memories that people carry with them about going hunting with their fathers or their mothers or their grandparents, means that you’re ignoring something essential in their lives.

What’s also true is that in Chicago so far this year there have been 22 Chicago public school children who’ve been gunned down on the streets, most of them faultless victims.

And so, we keep on talking past each other on that issue.

And the question then becomes is there a way for us, on the one hand, to acknowledge the importance of gun ownership in huge swaths of the country and recognize, as I’ve said repeatedly and long before this recent part of the campaign, that the Second Amendment actually means something — can we acknowledge that and at the same time recognize that for us to put in place strong, tough background checks, to close the gun-show loophole, to be able to trade guns that have been used in crimes to the gun dealers who sold those guns to see if they’re abiding by the law, making sure that they’re not working with straw purchasers to dump illegal handguns into vulnerable communities — that those two visions are compatible, that they’re not contradictory.

If he can do no better than portray RKBA types as merely upholding a cultural tradition, he’s absolutely right: he’s talking past a good share of his audience. I suggest he cut it out and start listening a little better.