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Obama’s Not Done with Guns

New regulations to reduce gun ownership target veterans, the elderly

President Obama wants to take away people’s guns. Last week, he lamented to the BBC that his biggest frustration as president was not getting major gun control passed during his presidency.

How much does he dislike Americans having guns? He obviously doesn’t even trust soldiers with them, even on a limited basis. Despite repeated attacks against our military, both on and off bases, no one expects Obama to let our military carry guns.

But with only 18 months left in office and a Republican-controlled Congress, Obama is unlikely to be able to push through a new gun control law. Still, his legacy on gun ownership will be long-lasting. He has appointed about half the federal judges in the country and implemented many new regulations.

Obama’s legacy on gun ownership will be long-lasting.

Obama’s regulations have already targeted military veterans and Social Security retirees. For both groups, he wants individuals who rely on others to handle their finances to be classified as “mentally defective,” and thus unable to own a gun.

If Social Security were to start classifying these people as “mentally defective,” some 4.2 million Social Security recipients could be affected — which equals about 10 percent of all people 65 and older.

But it is a real reach to say those who can’t manage their finances are a physical danger to themselves or others. What is next? Saying that people who can’t drive well or those who fail a math test should lose their right to self-defense?

For at least several years, Obama has been doing the same thing to veterans. Those who require someone to administer their VA benefits for them have been reported to the federal background check system. The only way out is to forfeit these benefits before the information is given to the background check system.

Having a gun is by far the safest way for people to protect themselves from criminals.

To get an idea of  how out of control the VA policy has become, consider that “the Congressional Research Service, as of June 1, 2012, “[found that] 99.3 percent of all names reported to the NICS list’s ‘mental defective’ category were provided by the Veterans Administration (VA) even though reporting requirements apply to all federal agencies.”

This seems preposterous. There is no reason military veterans should be massively overrepresented among those who lose their rights to owning a gun.

Having a gun is by far the safest way for people to protect themselves from criminals. What is ignored is that older people, as well as women, who both tend to be weaker physically, benefit the most from owning a gun. When a young man attacks an elderly person, the strength difference is enormous. A gun is the only means an elderly person can realistically put up a defense.

The first time we met in 1996, Obama told me, “I don’t believe people should be able to own guns.”

Americans 65 and over make up over 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet they seldom go out and kill people, accounting for only 3 percent of murders where the age of the murder is known. And it is probably far less than that, as unsolved murders disproportionately tend to involve young gangs.

For me, Obama’s opposition to people owning guns isn’t a hypothetical question. When Obama and I were both at the University of Chicago Law School and he was a part-time lecturer, the first time we met in 1996 he told me, “I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.”

During his time in Illinois state politics, Obama supported a “ban [on] the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns,” a “ban [on] the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.” He was on the board of directors of the left-wing Joyce Foundation, which funded such anti-gun groups as the Violence Policy Center, the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and Handgun Free America.

Disarming America’s elderly and veterans is just a step in Obama’s plans to take as many guns away from people as he can. But it is the law-abiding, not the criminals, who will be disarmed. Obama’s policies mean more vulnerable victims won’t be able to defend themselves.

John R. Lott, Jr., is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “More Guns, Less Crimes” (University of Chicago Press).

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