Any time you apply for a job you can expect to fill out an application and answer some questions, yet few of us have ever experienced the level of scrutiny as those seeking jobs with the new administration with a nine-page questionnaire delving into every aspect of the applicant's life with 63 detailed questions. They want to know just about everything you've ever done or thought; every article, every speech, every financial transaction, every association and every relationship. They even want to see your MySpace page, your emails, and your comments and posts on the Internet.
Some caution with potential employees is certainly sensible. Administrations have been burnt before when they haven't vetted their appointees well enough. With 7000 jobs up for grabs that's a lot of closets with room for plenty of skeletons. Some of the questions are very personal and go far beyond what would be expected for even the most sensitive jobs, and some of them are bound to be controversial, like question 57 which appears to be a subtle effort to determine the sexual orientation and past sexual activities of the applicants, something which would be completely unacceptable on any normal job application.
There is always concern about the more personal questions on an application like this, because of the apparent violation of the applicant's privacy and the possibility that a controversial issue might be used as a litmus test to rule out employment on an ideological basis. One question on the form stands out as controversial and has already sparked considerable concern, called down the ire of the NRA, and stoked the fears of millions of gun owners nationwide.
(60) Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.
This has every appearance of a litmus test, designed to eliminate anyone who believes in private gun ownership from consideration for a government job. It also raises concern over privacy rights and gun ownership rights, both of which are explicitly guaranteed under the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. What right does the government have to ask about gun ownership, and what is it likely to do with the information? Will Obama demand that applicants give up their guns in order to get a job? Or will he categorically reject anyone who has ever owned a gun as not ideologically compatible with his administration?
The wording of the question also reveals some interesting things about Obama and the attitudes of the people he has surrounded himself with. Whoever wrote the question has a profound ignorance about guns and gun ownership. First, he assumes that guns must be registered, something which is not true in most states. Does this mean that they aren't expecting or even considering applications from the two thirds of the nation where guns aren't registered? It certainly indicates a mindset in which gun registration is the default standard, which might reflect future policy. Second, that last sentence is profoundly ignorant. It assumes that guns have the ability to cause "injuries or property damage" on their own, a common fallacious belief of those who revile guns and cannot understand that they are incapable of harm without some person consciously using them to do harm.
If this question is a litmus test to keep those who believe in gun rights out of office, I wonder if VP-elect Joe Biden is filling out the questionnaire and if there's going to be a problem with his well-known affection for his Beretta shotgun. If it is a do-or-die question, what does it say about Obama's loyalty to the Constitution which he will soon swear to uphold and protect that he sees the exercise of this particular constitutionally protected right as possible grounds for disqualification from employment by his administration?