Opinion

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 17, 2008

Smart Bombs: Guns and poses

It’s sometimes hard to tell whether the National Rifle Association harbors genuine fear or prefers it. The NRA ran some ads during the presidential campaign claiming that Barack Obama would be the worst president ever when it comes to gun rights.

When the nonpartisan factcheck.org demolished the over-the-top claims about hunting, ammo and self-defense, the NRA fired back that it preferred its “facts.”

In short, it didn’t want to be talked out of being worried. Besides, nothing bolsters the membership rolls like fear. The ads and scattershot rhetoric have certainly gotten people’s attention, because gun sales have skyrocketed since Election Day. It almost makes me wonder whether gun-rights groups and weapons sellers secretly root for candidates they loathe.

A friend notes that she recently listened to a customer and a clerk fret about Obama at a local variety store. The customer was worried because the kind of weapon he was after was out of stock, and, you know, what if Obama banned it before he could buy it? So I checked for recent articles on this phenomenon, and it seems the surge has continued.

“It’s the Clinton days all over again, which is good for business,” a gun store owner told the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Another store owner, who said December sales were “going crazy,” said about Obama: “He’s a gun-grabbing liberal and that’s all there is to it. He’s going to restrict the ownership of specific types of firearms. When you start messing with a little piece of the pie, eventually there will be nothing left but bottle rockets and slingshots.”

Actually, in Washington state bottle rockets are illegal, but a wide array of firearms is not.

Now, I doubt I can calm the worriers, but I have to ask: If these weapons of mass concern are so vital, why didn’t they already own them?

Lock and unload. OK, so what are the odds that a President Obama would grab guns? Awfully low, unless he’s politically stupid. And if he is, he’ll get bounced from office and the guns will return. I’d be surprised if he even considered restoring the assault weapons ban after the pummeling Democrats have taken on that issue.

The one thing he might do that is politically popular is restore the ban on loaded weapons in national parks. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne recently signed an order allowing people with concealed-carry permits to pack heat as long as the state the park is in allows the same.

The “gun grabber” who signed the initial ban 25 years ago was James Watt, the controversial Wyoming politician who fought fiercely for individual liberties against federal regulations. That’s how radical the gun-rights agenda has become.

National park rangers will be pleading with Obama to overturn that ruling. He should.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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