Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Notes from a Swing State: Obama and Guns

BOULDER, Colorado -- I have mentioned before the appalling tenor and sheer volume of political attack ads in Colorado. Last night, one of the local channels felt it necessary to run a 15 second spot called a "political ad break," in which they just showed a shot of a pristine Colorado mountain landscape, to give people a brief reprieve from the insanity.

Colorado has been a heavy target of the National Rifle Association's "Defend Freedom - Defeat Obama" campaign. Many of the ads are run through the NRA's PAC, NRA Political Victory Committee, and they claim that as president, Barack Obama will severely curb the rights of gun owners. Here is one example of the ads that is currently running in the state:

This campaign may be having an effect, as there is a troubling trend emerging. The Washington Post reported yesterday that sales of guns and ammunition have increased 8-10% nationwide this year, and there is evidence that the rise is connected to anxieties over the potential election of Sen. Obama.

I know someone that works in an outfitting store here in Colorado, and he reports that they have recently been selling anywhere from two to eight assault rifles per day. Handguns are even worse; their stock is basically empty. Customers are apparently terrified that on November 5, President-Elect Obama will order the National Guard to seize everyone's assault rifles, hunting rifles, handguns, water pistols, and all other vaguely gun-shaped objects from their homes. More troubling, he says, the store rejects at least one applicant per day because they're a felon, they try to buy the gun with a fake ID, or they stupidly admit that they're buying the gun for someone else, which is illegal (though Colorado does not require any sort of registration or permitting for the transfer of ownership of a gun; they don't even require licensing of any kind).

As a gun owner myself, I support the right to own guns for legitimate purposes, like hunting or self-defense, but within reasonable limits. Colorado's gun regulations remain incredibly lax, and even if someone is of age and has a clean record, it is quite troubling to me that they can walk into a store, and five minutes later walk out with an AR-15 or an AK-47.

[Washington Post: Gun Sales Thriving In Uncertain Times]

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