President Obama keeps pushing for gun control. "I just want you to know that we are working on [gun control]. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar,” President Obama told Sarah Brady, the former president of the Brady Campaign, this past spring.
His push as been quiet but relentless.
Just this past week Obama signaled that he was going to just ignore two new parts of the 2012 Omnibus Spending bill. Although he signed the spending bill into law, he simultaneously issued a so-called "signing statement," a note that presidents have started attaching to legislation stating how they interpret the law they are signing or whether they believe part of it is unconstitutional.
Obama’s statement claimed that Congress couldn’t put restrictions on how he wanted to spend to fund lobbying for gun control and the National Institute of Health studies of gun control.
But why should the federal government use taxpayer dollars to pay for lobbying?
Obama has had numerous false starts on gun control. Just in November, his administration moved to ban target practice on public lands, but the opposition was so swift and strong they immediately backtracked.
A couple of weeks ago the Obama administration suffered another embarrassment. It was discovered that the Obama administration oversaw the sale of guns to Mexican drug gangs in its Fast & Furious program to bolster statistics of guns crossing over to the border to these very drug gangs.
This scandal is quite incredible as the Obama administration ordered gun dealers to make sales to Mexican drug gangs against their wishes to help the administration’s push for more gun control. And this follows the revelation in July that the Obama administration had pushed federal agents involved in the Fast & Furious scandal to support gun control regulations during their congressional testimony.
It doesn’t help that the Obama administration started pushing these sales at the same time they wanted to bolster their case that America was supply illegal guns to Mexico backfired. All this undercut any justification for new regulations and destroyed any support that they might have had.
With 90 congressmen signing a "no confidence" resolution in Attorney General Eric Holder’s handling of “Fast & Furious,” last week Holder lashed out against his critics. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American,” Holder told the New York Times. Holder seems unwilling to recognize the genuine outrages the administration’s gun-control agenda has produced.
Still the administration has successfully manage to push through gun control regulations in many, less visible ways: -- The Obama administration instituted a ban on importing "historic" semi-automatic rifles into the US. -- In sharp contrast to the Bush administration, President Obama strongly supports the UN Arms Trade Treaty even though he knows that any such treaty are unlikely to obtain the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed for ratification. What the regulations will do is lead to severe restrictions on private gun ownership around the world.
The administration instituted new rules on selling "high-powered rifles," defined as a caliber of greater than .22. -- The administration nominated Andrew Traver, someone who supports gun bans, as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Obama has stuck by Traver despite his nomination being stalled in the Senate for a year and the fierce opposition it has generated.
Obama’s most lasting impact on gun control is likely to be through the federal court judges he appoints. His most visible appointments have been the gun-control advocates he has made to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan headed up President Clinton’s push for gun control when she worked for his White House during the 1990s. And Justice Sonia Sotomayor has signed on to a Supreme Court opinion stating that there is no individual right to "private self-defense" with guns.
The pro-gun control views of Obama’s nominees have played a role the Senate filibustering of two Appeals Court nominees. Caitlin Joan Halligan was particularly controversial when nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit because she opposes an individual’s right to self defense and – even more damning -- she was one of the trial lawyers who had sued gun makers. Thus in New York v. Sturm & Ruger, she argued that gun makers should be liable for the criminal acts of third parties but not given any credit for the benefits from self-defense.
If elected to a second term, Obama will end up appointing over half the federal judges. That sure can make a big difference.
Most importantly, the Supreme Court is only one vote away from reversing the 5 to 4 decisions that so narrowly struck down the handgun bans in Chicago and the District of Columbia.
While a couple of Justices have made it to 90 while serving on the court, remember the rare glimpse into Obama’s views during the 2008 campaign when he referred to those “bitter” Americans who “cling to their guns, cling to their religion.”
It surely fits his earlier statement: “I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.”
Yet, despite all this evidence of an anti-gun agenda, recent articles by the Associated Press and other news media paint Obama as a moderate on guns and as somebody who wants to "protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens” and merely support so-called “gun safety” measures.
Of course, they are wrong. Unfortunately, Obama’s patient “under the radar” campaign seems to be working. He is fundamentally changing the courts and leaving them much more hostile to gun ownership. If Americans catch on, this could still be a major issue in the 2012.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a FoxNews.com contributor. He is an economist and author of the third edition of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press, 2010).
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns. He is the author of several books, including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.