Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign has worked to assure uneasy gun owners that he believes the Constitution protects their rights and that he doesn't want to take away their guns. Before he became a national political figure, he sat on the board of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, which gave out at least nine grants totaling nearly $2.7 million to groups that advocated the opposite positions, reports Politico.com. The foundation funded legal scholarship advancing the theory that the Second Amendment does not protect individual gun owners' rights, as well as two groups that advocated handgun bans. It supported the book “Every Handgun Is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns.” Obama's eight years on Joyce’s board, which paid him more than $70,000 in directors fees, do not conflict with his campaign-trail support for the rights of gun owners, an Obama campaign spokesman said.
In his appeal to gun owners, Obama has not emphasized his own legislative record, which includes supporting a ban on semiautomatic weapons and concealed weapons, and a limit on handgun purchases to one a month. He blamed his staff for indicating on a questionnaire filled out during his 1996 state Senate bid under his name that he supports banning “the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.” Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center, whose handgun-ban book was supported by Joyce, disagrees with Obama's interpretation of the Second Amendment. He contended that Obama should not be held to account for grants made by Joyce. “To think that every board member of a foundation is somehow responsible for not just every grant made but the end product displays a lack of understanding of the ways foundations operate and is unrealistic,” Sugarmann said.