As Robert Novak noted today, voters could find it difficult to get a read on Barack Obama’s real feelings about the rights of gun owners and the constitutionality of gun bans. Obama has certainly made his position opaque with a number of contradictory statements in this campaign. Perhaps the tribulations of Hale DeMar and the legislative response to an act of self-defense can help make Obama’s impulses a little more transparent.
Hale DeMar confronted a burglar in his home in December 2003 and shot him twice, forcing the burglar to flee and to seek medical care. Police arrested Mario Billings at the hospital, but they also charged DeMar with a misdemeanor for owning a handgun:
A 55-year-old Wilmette man was charged Thursday with weapons violations after he shot and wounded a burglar in his home more than a week ago.
Hale DeMar, of 35 Linden Ave. in the north suburb, was charged with a misdemeanor for violating a state law that required firearm owners to have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification card, Wilmette police Officer Roger Ockrim said in a news release. DeMar was also cited for violating a village code that prohibits possession of handguns in Wilmette, the release said. Violation of the ordinance is a petty offense carrying a maximum fine of $750 upon conviction.
At the time, Wilmette had its ban in place for 14 years. When the state legislature discovered that Wilmette had essentially charged DeMar for defending his home, several members moved a new law that essentially barred prosecution on handgun bans that arose from incidents of true self-defense. That bill, SB2165, was filed within three weeks of the incident, and took four months to wend its way through the legislature.
On May 25, 2004, the bill finally passed both houses — but without the support of Barack Obama. He voted against SB2165, which didn’t even go so far as to remove the Wilmette handgun ban, but only prevented enforcement in cases of real self-defense. It passed nonetheless, 41-16.
However, the governor vetoed the bill almost three months later, while the legislature was out of session. The original sponsor, Edward Petka, then moved to override the veto in November, and Obama didn’t vote at all on this day. The veto got overridden anyway.
If Obama really believed that the DC gun ban “went too far”, as he said last week, then why did he vote against SB2165, which didn’t even go as far as Heller in its scope? Protecting a citizen who successfully defended his home against a criminal who could have done great harm to his family seems like a reasonable, moderate position to take — especially for someone who now professes opposition to outright gun bans such as the one in Wilmette. Instead, Obama voted to allow victims like DeMar to get victimized a second time by a criminal-justice system more interested in disarming law-abiding citizens than in prosecuting the real perpetrators of crime in the community.
Barack Obama’s record looks clear on guns. He not only supported gun bans, but he supported prosecuting acts of self-defense. (via Hot Air reader Meg K.)