As a state senator in Illinois, President Obama opposed legislation providing an exception to handgun restrictions if the weapon was used in the defense of one’s home.
Obama’s vote would have maintained the status quo, which made it a violation of municipal gun ban law to use a firearm to save your own life in your own home. But the bill was passed anyway without his support.
The vote is a sign of how committed Obama may be to strict gun control measures.
The Illinois vote is hardly ancient history, having occurred in 2004 as Obama was running for election to the U.S. Senate. In opposing the measure, Obama lined up well to the left of the mainstream, as the Illinois Senate included 32 Democrats to 26 Republicans but approved the bill by an overwhelming margin and subsequently overrode a veto by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Obama did not participate in the veto override, which occurred in November 2004, likely after Obama had resigned his state Senate seat in order to prepare for his new role in the U.S. Senate.
The Illinois legislation was passed after a man who shot a burglar in his home was fined $750 by his town for disobeying its handgun ban. The absurdity and injustice of the situation doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on Obama.
Just eight years earlier, in 1996, Obama answered “Yes” to a survey question asking whether he would support state legislation to “ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” The Obama 2008 presidential campaign claimed the form had been filled out by an aide who mischaracterized Obama’s position, even though Obama’s handwriting was found on survey.