When he ran in 2008, Barack Obama sang from the National Rifle Association hymnal: "I believe in the Second Amendment. I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away."
It's not surprising to see an interest group oppose a politician who breaks a promise. But the NRA is punishing one who kept his. This week, the group endorsed Mitt Romney.
Obama has had plenty of chances to act on any anti-gun feelings, including the shooting of Gabby Giffords and the mass murder in Aurora, Colorado. He's passed every time. After Aurora, press secretary Jay Carney said, "The president’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now."
Certainly he's done nothing to gratify gun control advocates. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently complained that "the president has spent the last three years trying to avoid the issue." The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Obama a failing grade.
The NRA thinks his inaction is proof of how dastardly his intentions are. It accuses him of plotting to take drastic action once he no longer has to face voters. But if he cared that much, he would have tried already. Otherwise, he stands a good chance of missing the opportunity for good. That's why he pushed for health care reform despite the economic doldrums.
But interest groups can't raise money and attract members by saying there is nothing to worry about. So the NRA has to conjure up all sorts of fears about Obama's true agenda.
I think gun control is dangerous folly. But so is lurid fantasy about a president who promised not to touch our guns and has stuck to that vow.