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Guns are ‘flying off the shelf’

It’s been a week and a half since Barack Obama was elected president. He won’t take office for another two months. But he’s already got one big group of Americans on their feet.

What is Barack Obama’s position on the right to bear arms? Sen. Obama’s campaign Web site says he “respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms.” It promises he will “protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns.”

Seeking to reassure gun owners, Mr. Obama told a campaign audience in Ohio in October: “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

But the crowds mobbing America’s gun stores this week say a large number of Americans — including first-time gun buyers — don’t believe him.

In 2003, while serving in the Illinois Legislature, Mr. Obama voted in favor of a bill in the Judiciary Committee that would have made it illegal to “knowingly manufacture, deliver or possess” so-called “semi-automatic assault weapons,” reports Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “Under this bill, a firearm did not actually have to be semi-automatic to be banned. According to definitions in the bill, all single-shot and double-barreled shotguns 28-gauge or larger, and many semi-automatic shotguns of the same size, would be banned as ‘assault weapons.’ “

In an April television debate, Mr. Obama argued someone else on his staff improperly filled out a 1996 questionnaire stating support for a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns — even after ABC News’ Charlie Gibson told Mr. Obama, “Your writing was on the questionnaire.”

And the National Shooting Sports Foundation sent out mailers last month warning that — while in the U.S. Senate — Mr. Obama voted for versions of a measure that could have bankrupted gun manufacturers by allowing them to be sued for misuse of their products (“equivalent to holding car makers responsible for drunk driving”), as well as for a 500 percent tax increase on guns and ammo and a ban on virtually all deer-hunting ammunition.

Americans aren’t waiting to see which Barack Obama takes office in January. They’re voting with their feet — and their billfolds.

Glen Parshall of Bargain Pawn in North Las Vegas reported Wednesday that sales are “through the roof. I can’t get anything. I mean handguns, rifles, ammo, you name it. Ammo’s doubled in (wholesale) price in the past week if you can find it. I had a line of people waiting for me this morning when I showed up for work, waiting to buy AR-15s. Everybody’s fearful of the messiah, very, very much fearful. …

“In October, before this all started, my sales were approximately double what they were last October. This week it’s up more than that, and it’d be a hell of a lot higher if I had anything. People are looking for handguns, looking for rifles, looking for magazines.”

DeWayne Irwin, owner of Cheaper Than Dirt, a large gun store in Fort Worth, Texas, tells the Chicago Tribune, “People are terrified of losing their right to protect themselves. The volume is 10 times what we ever expected. It started with assault rifles, but at this point, people are buying ammunition, high-capacity magazines, Glocks — it’s all flying off the shelf.”

What we’re seeing in the gun stores this week is not a nation arming itself for revolt, but Americans in a thoroughly defensive mode, stocking up now to avoid the Democratic gun bans they believe are coming. What many Americans fear is that Barack Obama — aided by congressional allies such as Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles Schumer of New York — will revert to his true, pre-campaign nature come Jan. 20, and once more move to take away Americans’ guns.

After all, Democrats have tried before. In fact, a notable public figure attributed the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 to the fact that Democrats had tried to take away Americans’ guns.

Who was that insightful analyst?

Bill Clinton.

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