Brandon Leonard looks at a display for Crimson Trace Lasergrips during… (Whitney Curtis / Getty Images )
During the 2008 presidential campaign, the National Rifle Assn. spent millions of dollars on political ads claiming that Democratic candidate Barack Obama was out to take Americans' guns away; one typical ploy was an NRA website, called GunBanObama.org, whose banner headline read, "Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history." In the wake of Obama's election, gun sales soared and ammunition prices skyrocketed as consumers stockpiled bullets in preparation for a war on gun rights that never happened.
Obama hasn't proposed any anti-gun legislation in his first term, and has rarely mentioned the topic. This makes us wonder how long the NRA and the politicians who do its bidding can continue to pretend there's a wolf at the door before people look outside and discover that wolves are an endangered species. The answer, based on last week's annual NRA convention, is apparently forever.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the event's headliner, slammed Obama for "employing every imaginable ruse and ploy" to restrict gun rights (apparently, his ruses are so subtle as to be invisible to the naked eye) and warned that if the president wins a second term, he will finally launch the NRA's long-hyped attack on guns. Moreover, Romney said, Obama might have an opportunity to remake the Supreme Court, possibly replacing one of the conservative justices who have upheld the concept of an "individual" right to bear arms in such cases as District of Columbia vs. Heller. Left unmentioned by Romney is that Obama supported the Heller decision.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS: Presidential Election 2012
To a certain extent, we wish Obama were the villain that Romney and the NRA make him out to be. We have no interest in preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves, but we do think society would be safer with more laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or to ban certain classes of military weapons from civilian use. Unfortunately, though, the president that Republicans portray as a wolf in sheep's clothing is really just a sheep. If the NRA persists in crying wolf despite this obvious fact, it's because gun owners might become complacent if they realized the battle against gun control has been largely won — which might prompt them to stop sending money to the NRA.