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By Alexander Lane September 23, 2008

Fuzzy stand in '96 does not amount to a plan

In a hard-hitting direct-mail piece to its members, the National Rifle Association detailed an alleged plan by Sen. Barack Obama to transform gun-ownership regulations.

Obama's "plan" appeared on a section of the mailer designed to be cut out and carried around in a wallet. The front of the wallet card said, "Barack Obama's Ten Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment." The reverse listed the 10 parts of the alleged plan, including:

"3) Ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns."

We examined item No. 1 here , and found it to be Pants on Fire wrong.

Some of the other items sound just as dubious, such as: "4) Close down 90 percent of the gun shops in America." And "6) Increase federal taxes on guns and ammunition by 500 percent."

But let's stick to No. 3 for now.

An NRA spokeswoman confirmed the authenticity of the direct mail piece, which first appeared in early August 2008. She would not delve into the details of how the organization supported its charges, but we're pretty sure we know where the NRA is coming from on this one.

Featured Fact-check

In 1996, as a candidate for the Illinois state Senate, Obama filled out a questionnaire for a community group called Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization. It asked if the candidate supported state legislation to "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns." Obama’s answer: "Yes."

The Obama campaign claimed the questionnaire was filled out by a campaign aide who "unintentionally mischaracterize[d] his position" on gun control and other issues, even though Obama's writing was on another part of the questionnaire. (Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama’s campaign, said in an e-mailed statement to Politico, "He may have jotted some notes on the front page of the questionnaire at the meeting, but that doesn’t change the fact that some answers didn’t reflect his views.")

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Obama approved of what was on the questionnaire. There are still serious problems with using that to justify a claim that Obama has a plan to "ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns."

For one thing, the question was about a state law. The NRA claims without qualification that Obama wants to ban handguns, implying that he intends to do so on a national level. Obama says frequently that gun regulation should be tailored to different geographical areas.

For another thing, Obama's answer on the questionnaire was a long time ago. On a more recent questionnaire, he said, "A complete ban on handguns is not politically practicable," but reasonable restrictions should be imposed, according to the Associated Press .

At the Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia on April 16, 2008, Obama said: "I have never favored an all-out ban on handguns." His vote in 2004, for a bill that authorized the Illinois State Police to issue concealed weapon permits to retired police officers and military police officers, supports that claim. Furthermore, as a state legislator and U.S. senator, Obama has had plenty of opportunity to propose a ban on handguns, and has never done so.

Obama's alleged endorsement of a proposed state law in 1996 does not add up to a plan to ban handguns, particularly in light of evidence to the contrary that has accumulated since then. We find the NRA's claim to be False.

Our Sources, Barack Obama: Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen , accessed Sept. 11, 2008

National Rifle Association, On the Second Amendment, Don't Believe Obama , accessed Sept. 11, 2008

Chicago Tribune, Gun curbs suffer setbacks; Downstate, Suburban Lawmakers Outdueling Chicago on Issue, March 27, 2004

Politico, Obama Questionnaire , accessed Sept. 11, 2008, Gunning for Obama , May 6, 2008, accessed Sept. 11, 2008, Obama Consistently On the Fence

New York Times, Democratic Debate in Philadelphia , April 16, 2007, accessed Sept. 11, 2008, NRA: Obama Most Anti-Gun Candidate Ever, Will Ban Guns , August 6, 2008, accessed Sept. 11, 2008

Associated Press (via ABC News), Obama's Views Have Changed With Time , Dec. 22, 2007

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Fuzzy stand in '96 does not amount to a plan

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