The Spectacle Blog

Re: Obama’s Statement on Heller

By on 6.26.08 | 12:58PM

Whatever you think of Obama's sincerity, his Heller reaction does reflect significant rightward movement by the national Democratic Party on gun control. As recently as the 1990s, a Democratic presidential candidate would have been expected to denounce a Supreme Court decision like Heller and complain about a right-wing takeover of the courts. Even in his February statement on the D.C. handgun ban, Obama took pains to say that he wouldn't take guns away from people in Flyover country, just people in urban areas. I'll let others unpack some of the implications of this logic, but Obama has adopted the political approach pioneered by Howard Dean: let liberal areas of the country enact gun control laws but don't directly challenge the gun culture in more conservative parts of the country. He has obviously moved even further in this direction as he has to reach out beyond Democrats and win battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.

These political concessions have limited policy implications, of course. My guess is that a unified Democratic government will be far more reluctant to advance gun control legislation than Bill Clinton and the Democrats in Congress were in 1993-94. But a President Obama would be likely to appoint judges who are hositle to Second Amendment rights and gun rights would become less secure as Democratic majorities became more secure.

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