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NRA says No-bama*

October 8, 2008 |  4:19 pm
Barack Obama talks to supporters at a Wisconsin rod and gun park in August. (Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / Getty Images)

The National Rifle Assn., apparently unsatisfied with having crushed its enemies, driven them before it and heard the lamentations of their women (to paraphrase Conan the Barbarian), is now targeting even its friends.

Having already spent $2.3 million on ads critical of Barack Obama, the NRA's political action committee has shelled out another $100,000 for a spread slated to run in USA Today tomorrow. It will revive an old campaign mailing from Hillary Clinton that had criticized Obama's stance on gun rights. "Hillary was right: You can't trust Obama with your guns," headlines the ad, according to the Associated Press.

What seems odd about this is that Obama does not oppose gun rights. He has made a point of pounding this home to rural audiences, telling them he has no intention of taking their guns away: not their shotguns, not their handguns, not anything. Though Democrats were once the party of gun control, the NRA's political victory has been so complete, and national sentiment on the issue has shifted so far in favor of gun ownership, that to endorse strong gun controls in a national election today is political suicide -- which is why Clinton was trying to assert her own friendliness to gun rights during the Democratic primary.

With no real opposition left to criticize, the NRA now seems to be trying to expose gun-control sympathizers, which it suspects Obama of being. That's because he supported control measures as an Illinois lawmaker, and during the presidential campaign he has dared to suggest there's still room for "common sense" gun laws "so that we don't have kids being shot on the streets of cities like Chicago." He hasn't given many specifics, but this probably means that he wants tighter rules to keep  guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, or perhaps restrictions on gun-show sales that currently are exempt from background checks on buyers. This is the bare minimum that could be done to reduce the murder count and would do nothing to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, yet apparently it's too much for the NRA.

*This headline was changed from its original version.

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