Gun Laws Loosen in States, Even as Gun Policy Changes Little Under Obama

Gun rights advocates are pushing for a slew of new laws in numerous states to loosen gun control, the New York Times reports, in anticipation of stricter gun control laws from the Obama administration. Those policies, however, have yet to materialize.

Because he campaigned on promises to make the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, to close the loophole that allows unlicensed dealers to sell firearms at gun shows without background checks and promote other so-called "commonsense measures," gun rights advocates have been wary of President Obama.

The few gun-related measures to come out of Washington in the past year, however, have been mostly in favor of bolder gun rights, such as the law that just went into effect that allows loaded guns in national parks.

That hasn't comforted gun rights groups.

"We have had some successes, but we know that the first chance Obama gets, he will pounce on us," Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association, told the Times.

The Times points to the numerous states, including Indiana, Arizona, Wyoming, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia, that have either passed or are pursuing looser restrictions on guns. For instance, in Virginia, the general assembly last week approved a bill to allow people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol. Some states want firearms and ammunition made, sold and used within state boundaries to be exempt from federal laws.

After taking office, Mr. Obama continued in some instances to advocate for tougher gun laws. He acknowledged on a trip to Mexico early on in his presidency that weapons from the United States contribute to the drug-related violence plaguing Mexico and spilling over U.S. borders.

"This war is being waged with guns purchased not here, but in the United States," Mr. Obama said in Mexico City in April, 2009. "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States, many from gun shops that line our shared border."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the administration's plans to help Mexico fight drug cartels would be inadequate without new gun restrictions, but the administration's call to reinstitute the Assault Weapons Ban went nowhere. The administration has also failed to close the gun show loophole.

The Brady Campaign last month issued the Obama administration a failing report card on gun control. And even the NRA's current advocacy work reveals the administration's lack of action on gun control: At last weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference, the gun rights group focused more on their fights with the Clinton administration than with President Obama.