Last spring, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to arms, Democrats hoped the decision would neutralize the gun issue. Instead the ruling, by inviting debate over which kinds of gun control are constitutional, has made the issue more salient.
That's bad news for Barack Obama, who the National Rifle Association says "would be the most anti-gun president in American history." The Democratic nominee pays lip service to Second Amendment rights while calling for "commonsense," "reasonable" restrictions. But Obama's sense of what's reasonable, while common among the left-liberal politicians and activists inside his comfort zone, may seem decidedly unreasonable to the pro-gun voters the NRA is trying to mobilize against him.
The specifics of Obama's views may turn out to be less important than the sense that he's an urban sophisticate who is unfamiliar with firearms and does not even understand the gun control laws he supports. In a 2004 debate, Obama explained the rationale for the "assault weapon" ban this way: "Unless you're seeing a lot of deer out there wearing bullet-proof vests, then there is no purpose for many of the guns." He thereby conflated the "assault weapon" and "armor-piercing bullet" issues, apparently not realizing that ordinary hunting ammunition can penetrate "bullet-proof vests."