FLASH: Obama vows new push to ban semi-automatic rifles in a second term; Romney challenges President over "Fast & Furious"

[Editor's Note: This article has been updated.]

by Chad D. Baus

In his second debate with Governor Mitt Romney on Tuesday Oct. 16, President Barack Obama pledged to renew his push to ban certain semi-automatic sporting rifles, should he win a second term.

The discussion on the two candidates' positions on the Second Amendment followed for several minutes, and Mitt Romney raised the issue of the Obama Justice Department's "Fast & Furious" operation, which allowed thousands of guns to be "walked" across the border and into the hands of murderous Mexican drug lords.

From Reuters:

Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney engaged in a rare tussle over gun control on Tuesday, and Obama opened the door to pushing for a ban on assault weapons if he wins a second term.

...The president, once an ardent proponent of the assault-weapons ban, has done little to push such a proposal forward during his time in the White House. When Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned the possibility in early 2009, the White House backed away from such talk.

But on Tuesday night, Obama appeared to endorse a push for the ban if he is elected to a second term.

"What I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally," Obama said during the debate at Hofstra University. "Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced."

...Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said he was encouraged to hear Obama mention the ban.

"It's not surprising," Gross said. "We're very confident that he knows in his heart what the right thing to do on this issue is."

Indeed, the Brady bunch know that Obama wants to pass gun control, since just last year Sarah Brady told The Washington Post that Obama confided to her: "I just want you to know that we are working on it. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar."

Obama also hinted at an effort to ban inexpensive handguns, often purchased by less fortunate people who wish to exercise their self-defense rights. Consider the full quote, which included the rifle ban mentioned above:

"What I'm trying to do is to get a broader conversation about how do we reduce the violence generally. Part of it is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced. But part of it is also looking at other sources of the violence. Because frankly, in my hometown of Chicago, there's an awful lot of violence and they're not using AK-47s. They're using cheap handguns."

Thoughout his first term, the Obama administration has sought to keep its efforts to enact gun control "under the radar." As noted in The Wall Street Journal today, when Attorney General Eric Holder mentioned the administration's support for the ban in 2009, Mr. Obama's then chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, promptly told him to "shut the f@#$ up" about guns.

However, Obama's pledge to renew the push to ban these rifles, which are owned by millions of Americans, including hunters and sportsmen, and his hint at "cheap handguns" as a "source of violence," deflated a narrative started earlier this week in an Associated Press article that gun owners have nothing to fear from an Obama second term.

For Obama, minimizing Romney's apparent advantage among voters who place a premium on outdoors issues is the name of the game.

In Iowa and other states, that task falls to people such as Dick Dearden. He's a Democratic state senator and leader of a group of pro-Obama outdoors enthusiasts working to combat negative portrayals of the incumbent among the shotgun crowd.

"The president is not a threat to people who hunt and fish. He's an asset," Dearden said. "I'm a member of the NRA and they are beginning to more and more embarrass me. I'm a Second Amendment person, but I have not seen anything this president has done for the last four years that has hurt anyone's Second Amendment rights."

Unfortunately, the debate moderator, as well as follow-up press today, are also repeating the myth that Romney passed an assault weapons ban in Massachusetts, despite Romney's attempt to correct her last night.

Where are all the media "fact checkers", and why aren't they reporting that the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) calls the bill Romney signed "the greatest victory for [Massachusetts] gun owners since the passage of the gun control laws in 1998."

From the report, entitled "The Romney Record" - A GOAL Special Report:

It was a reform bill totally supported by GOAL. Press and media stories around the country got it completely wrong when claimed the bill was an extension of the "assault weapon" ban that had sunset at the federal level. They could not have been more wrong.

Last night, Romney told the audience "I'm not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal."

Romney also pointed out the hypocrisy of Obama's diatribe about reducing violence in light of the ATF's "Fast & Furious" scandal. Like the scandal itself, the media have largely ignored Romney's challenge of Obama on this issue in coverage of last night's debate.

As noted on Townhall.com, after Romney briefly described the scandal, "moderator Candy Crowley cut him off and shifted the subject. President Obama refused to comment on Operation Fast and Furious and blamed the National Rifle Association for Romney's stance on gun control."

The entire exchange can be viewed here:

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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