When asked what the administration has done or plans to do to limit assault weapons at the Oct. 16 debate, Obama said part of the solution to gun violence "is seeing if we can get an assault weapons ban reintroduced." That comment caught fire with gun owners. "If there are undecided voters who put the Second Amendment as their first issue, then certainly the president's remark about bringing back any type of gun ban is going to chase away those voters," said Joe Eaton, a regional coordinator with the Buckeye Firearms Association in Ohio.
One of those is independent voter Robert Brewer from Cincinnati. When he heard the president's renewed support for an assault weapons ban, Brewer said, "I was thinking I was born in a country (where) I had a right to keep and bear arms and I don't know what he's talking about. It goes against the Constitution, which gives me the right to keep and bear arms and that right shall not be infringed." Pro-gun activists never considered President Obama an ally, after he campaigned in favor of such a gun ban in 2008. Once in the White House, however, Obama did not pursue it. After the mass shooting in Colorado, Obama aides said that the president supports the ban that expired in 2004. But the president had not called for reinstating it until the recent debate.
In Colorado, another important battleground state, Rich Wyatt heard the president loud and clear. "He wants to do something that is complete violation of our Second Amendment rights and that's going to hurt him when it comes to swing states like Colorado," said Wyatt, owner of the Gunsmoke gun store outside of Denver. While gun owners may not consider Obama their friend on firearms issues, legislatively he hasn't done anything serious to hurt them. His comment, though, could wake a sleeping giant in a few key places.
Nationwide, there are 90 million gun owners in the U.S., but in the eight critical swing states, already this year more than 2.1 million potential voters bought guns. Some bought for personal protection, others for target shooting. But in those eight states -- Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin -- 2 million hold hunting licenses. That includes 413,710 in Ohio, and 288,086 in Colorado, two states critical to the president's re-election. "I am definitely concerned," said new mother Stephanie Thomas, as her baby was sleeping in a carrier on a gun display case inside Target World, an Ohio gun shop. "I wanted to come in and make my purchase before the election."
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