Senators Barack Obama and Joseph Biden know that we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in this country. They know that our weak gun laws have too many loopholes, which lead to over 30,000 deaths and 70,000 injuries from guns every year.
Senators Obama and Biden know that we can reduce those deaths and injuries from guns by strengthening our Brady background check system, getting military-style assault weapons off our streets, and giving law enforcement more tools to stop the trafficking of illegal guns.
Fortunately, the candidates most favored by the gun lobby were rejected by the voters during the primaries. The gun lobby has lambasted Senator John McCain for being a leader on gun violence prevention issues in the past. In 2000 and 2001, he introduced legislation, gave floor speeches, and appeared in television ads to close the gun show loophole. In 2004, he gave floor speeches supporting access to crime gun trace data, requiring gun dealer inventories, and retaining background check records. Back then, Senator McCain was a "maverick", willing to take on the gun lobby.
But now, Senator McCain has stopped talking about these issues and, instead, has pandered to the gun lobby whose opinions he once disdained. His erratic approach to gun violence prevention leads to our concern about whether a President McCain would remember and follow the leadership shown by Senator McCain in 2000 and 2004 and take steps to help reduce gun violence.
The difference between the two tickets is clearest with regard to assault weapons. Senator Obama made his position clear in his acceptance speech in Denver when he said "the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't tell me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals." And Senator Biden helped get a ban on assault weapons passed in 1994 and fought for its renewal in 2004.
Senator McCain, however, opposed the assault weapon ban in 1994 and voted against its renewal in 2004. McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, told ABC's Charles Gibson that she also opposed a ban on assault weapons, saying that they were part of her "culture."
The Obama-Biden ticket understands that the rights of law-abiding gun owners can co-exist with the reasonable restrictions which the U.S. Supreme Court recognized as "presumptively lawful" in its recent Second Amendment decision finding a general gun ban unconstitutional. As Justice Scalia stated, there is "not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever for whatever purposes." Senator McCain once understood this concept but that "straight talk" is now silent.
The Obama-Biden ticket will work with law enforcement, gun violence victims, and ordinary citizens who want to do more to protect themselves, their families, and their communities by making it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons.
Along with Sarah and Jim, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters strongly endorses the Obama-Biden ticket and encourages our supporters to vote for them on November 4, 2008.
You can find out more about other Brady Campaign endorsements, as well as where the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates stand on the gun issue, at the Brady Voter Education Fund's web guide at BradyVoter.org.