Fox News invented a flip-flop by President Obama, contrasting the president's support for strengthening gun violence prevention laws with a position he took in 1999 on whether to try certain juveniles who committed a gun crime as an adult.
On Wednesday, Obama proposed mandatory criminal background checks for all gun sales; banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and possession of armor-piercing ammunition; calling for funding for research into gun violence and additional police officers on the streets and at schools; and improving mental health services.
On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy and the Daily Caller's Vince Coglianese purported to contrast Obama's support for those measures with the fact that as an Illinois state senator in 1999, Obama voted "present" on a 1999 state law that provides for adult criminal prosecution of minors who were at least 15 and fired a gun near a school.
But there is no inconsistency between the two positions. None of Obama's proposals involve trying more juveniles as adults.
Furthermore, Obama did not oppose the bill because he opposed strengthening gun laws. Rather, he made clear during debate on the 1999 bill that he opposed the Illinois law because of a general objection to automatically treating juveniles as adults, and that the Illinois legislature had just reformed the juvenile justice code to limit how often juveniles were transferred to adult courts:
Obama said during the floor debate:
I did just want to point out that last year we worked on a almost complete overhaul of the Juvenile Justice Code, and this provision was debated at length during negotiations with the various State's attorneys' office. Part of the reason that we negotiated it out of that original bill was at least the sense of some of us that there is really no proof or indication that automatic transfers and increased penalties and adult penalties for juvenile offenses have, in fact, proven to be more effective in reducing juvenile crime or cutting back on recidivism. I know there's some disagreements with other folks, but I did just want to point out that last year when we worked -- guided so ably by Senator Hawkinson -- on this bill, the sense was that we had more or less completed an overhaul of the Code and that we were going to pause for a moment, see how that worked before we moved on. And I guess I'd just like to point out that here we are, a year later, doing the exact same thing that we had been doing prior to the changes that we initiated last year and that is to increase penalties further for juveniles and try them further as adults and expand the number of offenses. So, for that reason, I'm going to be voting Present.