Barack Obama on The Second Amendment

Last Updated : Jul 27, 2012


President Obama has stated that he supports the second amendment. His record indicates that he is a strong supporter of reigning in firearms to prevent violence. This includes support for the assault weapons ban, support for international treaties to restrict firearms, and appointing Supreme Court Justices that are opposed to second amendment rights.

President Obama's time in office has seen a number of high profile shootings which have triggered calls from him to limit the availability of firearms. While he has advanced no specific legislation proposals, he has voiced support for .

On the flip side, while in office President has signed separeate pieces of legislaiton that expanded gun rights. These rights include the ability of citizens to carry firearms in national parks as long as they comply with state laws, and the ability of certain passengers to carry unloaded firearms in the luggage on Amtrak trains.

Record as State Senator

In 1996, State Senator Obama answered a questionaire and stated that he supported a complete ban on assault weapons, supported mandatory waiting periods, supported background checks, and supported a complete ban on manufature and sale of handguns. Claims by Senator Obama that a staffer filed out the form were debunked by media outlets. Those same objectives were supported by State Senator Obama in a 1998 political awareness test. During a 2004 debate for the US Senate seat, Barack Obama mocked his opponent for not supporting a ban on assault weapons which he said had only one purpose: to kill people.

Record as a Senator

During Barack Obama's time in the Senate, the subject of the second amendment was not a hot topic. He voted against a piece of legislation to prevent lawsuits against firearms companies when their weapons are used in a crime.

2008 Presidential Election

Early in the 2008 election, Senator Obama stated that he supported the DC gun ban. He stated that he believed that the Constitution confers an individual right to bear arms, but just because you have an individual right does not mean that the state or local government can’t constrain the exercise of that right. After the supreme court ruling which struck down the DC ban, Senator Obama stated that the ruling was still consistent with his views that the community can restrict those rights.

Senator Obama opposed the concealed carry laws which allow people to carry firearms while concealed. He has allowed for an exemption for retired cops who may need to carry a weapon to protect themselves against threats due to their service.

Meeting with Calderon

After the election and before assuming office, President-Elect Obama met with Mexican President Calderon. Such a meeting is normal when new Presidents are elected. After the meeting, the campaign released a statement that stated that the administration would do what it could to curtail weapons flowing to Mexico which sounded like they were supporting an assault weapons ban. This belief was confirmed a few months later when Attorney General Eric Holder was discussing border security and confirmed that the administration supported an assault weapons ban.

Hiring Questionnaire

As part of a questionnaire to work in the Obama administration, potential employees were asked to list any weapons they owned, the registration information, and the purpose of the weapon.


In 2009, President Obama called for the Senate to ratify the CIFTA treaty. That treaty would have ave allowed other countries to track US firearms, and may have prevented the reloading of ammunition by marking bullets and shells to match. The treaty was originally signed by President Clinton but was never ratified by the Senate. The President called for its ratification based upon the need to limit the flow of illegal firearms into the US.

Appointment of Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was appointed by President Obama in the summer of 2009. During her confirmation hearings, she stated that Heller was "settled law." Heller was the case that declared the DC gun ban unconstitutional. Months later, she used the same arguments that the dissent used in the Heller case to support the Chicago gun ban.

Response to Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

In March of 2011, President Obama responded to the mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona that included Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In an op-ed he wrote, the President stated that it was not acceptable that a man who was rejected by the Army for service and by colleges for education was capable of purchasing a firearm. He went on to outline a proposed plan that included stronger enforcement of already existing firearms laws, working to ensure that a background check system is in place so that all people purchasing a gun can be checked against criminal and mental illness lists, and rewarding states that do the best job of providing data as they are doing the best job of protecting their citizens.

Response to Aurora, Colorado Shooting

In July of 2009, President Obama responded to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado by stating that AK-47s and similar weapons belonged in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of criminals and on an battlefield rather than the streets.

New Reporting Rules

In July of 2011, the Justice Department issued new rules outside of law to require gun store to report sales of more than one rifle to one person, provided the caliber for those rifles is more than .22. The new rules applied only to border states along the border with Mexico.

Fast and Furious

Some time in 2009, the Obama administration started a program to allows weapons to be legally purchased in the US and then shipped to Mexico with the intent of tracing those weapons back to drug cartel leaders once they were used in a crime. One of those weapons was used to kill a border patrol agent. We are working on a controversy page for this item and hope to have it up soon.


Assault weapons bans and overall gun bans

In 1996, State Senate hopeful Obama filled out a questionaire from a Chicago nonprofit, Independent Voters of Illinois. He gave these responses:

35. Do you support state legislation to:
a. ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? Yes.
b. ban assault weapons? Yes.
c. mandatory waiting periods and background checks? Yes.

Despite the fact that his campaign said Obama did not fill out the questionnaires--a staffer did--and that he may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire, has found that the writing on the form was that of Obama's.

In July of 1998, Obama supported the following goals on the State Legislative National Political Awareness test:

  • Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.
  • Increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
  • Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms

In October 2000, State Senator Obama co-sponsored legislation in the Illinois Senate to limit handgun purchases to one per month. The legislation did not pass.

While debating Mr. Alan Keyes during the Illinois Senate campaign in 2004, State Senator Obama described the fact that President Bush did not re-institute an assault weapons ban as a scandal.


Concealed carry

In April of 2004 State Senator Obama voted to allow retired cops to carry a concealed weapon, noting that their previous job provided them with training.  He was criticized by gun control advocates and when discussing the vote, State Senator Obama had the following to say:


D.C. Gun Ban

In February of 2008, in a primary interview, Senator Obama was asked about the D.C. gun ban and made the following remarks:

At the presidential debate in Philadelphia in April of 2008, Senator Obama was again asked about the legality of the gun ban that the city of Washington D.C. had in place. 

In June of 2008, Senator Obama was asked about his previous statements on the constitutionality of the D.C. in the aftermath of the recent supreme court decision to overturn the law.  In the response to that question, Senator Obama remarked that he never claimed that the law was constitutional.


Meeting with Calderon

Just before assuming office, President-Elect Obama met with Mexican President Calderon. In a press statement released by the campaign, the President-Elect pledged to prevent the flow of wweapons to Mexico and seemed to endorse an assault weapons ban.


Holder Confirms Assault Weapons Belief

Shortly after assuming office, Attorney General Eric Holder was discussing the capture of several drug gang members and began to disuss the need to address weapons. In doing so, he was asked about a possible assautl weapons ban and confirmed that the Obama administration would support such a law.


Hiring Questionnaire

As part of the hiring process to become a worker in the Obama administration, applicants were asked if they or anyone else in their families owned a gun. They were then asked the purpose of the weapon and the registration information.



In April of 2009, the White House issued a press statement noting a recent trip by the President to the Summit of the Americas. As part of that statement, the President called for the Senate to pass CIFTA, the Convention on Illicit Trafficking in Firearms Convention. The measure was addressed as part of the need to curtail the flow of illegal arms into the US.

In May of 2009, President Obama made a speech in which he urged the Senate to pass a treaty which would have allowed other countries to track US firearms, and may have prevented the reloading of ammunition by marking bullets and shells to match.


Arizona Daily Star

In March of 2011, President Obama wrote an op-ed reacting to the mass shooting of several people in Tuscon, Arizona, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. In that op-ed, shown in full below, President Obama calls for several new measures to prevent criminals and mentally unstable people from owning a gun.


Permanent Policy

On July 11, 2011 the Justice Department released a press statement noting that it would be making new reporting requirements permanent for the border states of Texas, New Mexico, California, and Arizona. It cites the increased border violence in that region and the need to track weapons that may go into Mexico. The rule requires that all gun salesmen report any sale of long rifles greater than .22 caliber.


National Urban League Speech

In July of 2012, President Obama spoke in New Orleans, Louisiana at the National Urban League. In that speech, he responded to the recent mass shooting in Aurora, Colorada in which more than a dozen people were murdered by a lone gunman and dozens more were critically injured. In that speech, President Obama stated that criminals should not have access to weapons such as an AK-47. Note than an AR-15 model weapon was used in the crime.


Voting Record

Amendment - US aid and gun registration

In September 2007, the US Senate voted on an amendment submitted by Senator Vitter of Louisiana. The amendment sought to prohibit the use of funds by international organizations, agencies, and entities that require the registration of, or taxes guns owned by citizens of the United States. The amendment got the support of almost all Republicans and about 2/3 of the Democrats to pass in a 81-10 vote. Barack Obama cast a "No Vote"

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act

In 2005, the US Senate voted on S 397 - The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The act sought to protect gun manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers from being sued for crimes or accidents involving the weapons they sold or manufactured. The legislation came to a vote in July of 2005 and passed the Senate with a vote of 65-31. Barack Obama voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Barack Obama voted against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.


Sponsored and Cosponsored Legislation

This representative has not been identified as sponsoring or cosponsoring significant legislation related to this title.

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