Before anyone goes into full blown panic alert, I think Herman Cain may have just slipped up a bit during a rapid fire question session with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last night. Given a chance to walk this back and clarify, his answer might not sound as bad. But, the man said what he said, so we should give it a full airing. Video and transcript follow, and the comments come at the 3 minute mark so you can fast forward.
BLITZER: How about gun control?
CAIN: I support the 2nd amendment.
B: So what’s the answer on gun control?
C: The answer is I support, strongly support, the 2nd amendment. I don’t support onerous legislation that’s going to restrict people’s rights in order to be able to protect themselves as guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.
B: Should states or local government be allowed to control guns, the gun situation, or should…
B: So the answer is yes?
C: The answer is yes, that should be a state’s decision.
I don’t know, but that sounds pretty specific to me. On the one hand, Cain is saying that he doesn’t want the federal government passing sweeping, onerous laws restricting everyone’s gun rights, but they don’t do that now. It all comes down to the question of whether or not 2nd amendment rights are among the incorporated rights which must be recognized by the states.
Ever since the SCOTUS decision in McDonald v Chicago, the groundwork has been laid where those rights might stand up against the wishes of the individual state and local governments. Unless he completely misspoke, Cain sounds like he is an opponent of the McDonald decision, which I believe would come as a great disappointment to many of his conservative supporters.
But, again, the piece went by fairly quickly and it’s possible that he simply misfired in response to Blitzer’s flurry of questions on a wide variety of issues. It would be worthwhile for someone to ask Mr. Cain to clarify these remarks in the near future.
Update: Doug Mataconis wonders if this was not a misfire, but rather a different reading of constitutional adherence, more in the school of Ron Paul.
Now, it’s possible, as Jazz Shaw suggests, that Cain simply misspoke under Blitzer’s rapid fire barrage. The other possibility, though, is that he’s one of those “Constitutional” conservatives who rejects the entire idea that Federal Bill of Rights should be applied to the states. Ron Paul believes this, and it’s one reason I’m not entirely a fan of his. Is this Cain’s position? Does he believe that, not just the 2nd, but also the 1st, 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th Amendments shouldn’t apply to the states? Some clarification on this issue would be most helpful.