The conspiracy theories and fear-mongering ran wild on conservative talk shows and Internet sites before President Obama ever set foot in the White House. The gun lobby claimed Barack Obama would be “the most anti-gun president in American history.”
The likes of Glenn Beck warned darkly that Obama was activating plans “to take away your guns” and conspiring, among other things, to appoint federal judges and Supreme Court justices who would abolish the Second Amendment and make it a crime to carry or even shoot guns. Gun enthusiasts urged the fearful to get firearms while they still could before Obama banned them.
Four years of bizarre claims about the intentions of an “anti-gun” president have proved exceptionally lucrative for the gun industry, the Associated Press reported last week after analyzing industry data. Among the findings: Firearm sales have increased so much that gun manufacturers and store owners have a difficult time keeping up with demand. At one major manufacturer, Sturm, Ruger & Co., sales have increased 86 percent the past four years, the demand so high the company temporarily halted orders for the first time in its history. There are 3,303 more federally licensed retail gun dealers in the country today than in 2009.
And yet for all the hysteria, the Obama White House has shied away from taking the initiative in gun-control legislation, including worthy efforts to renew the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. The sad irony is that to the dismay of gun-control advocates, the president has shown little inclination to engage the gun lobby, even in the face of appalling violence such as the movie-theater massacre in Aurora, Colo.