By: By: José Niño
Elected officials at the federal level have left a lot to be desired on the issue of guns, with the Trump administration already signing a bump stock ban and FIX-NICS into law last year.
Now, in the wake of the Dayton and El Paso shootings, the Trump administration is becoming receptive to the idea of red flag gun confiscation orders and enhanced background checks.
After the El Paso shooting, Trump tweeted, “We cannot let those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, die in vain. Likewise, for those so seriously wounded. We can never forget them, and those many who came before them. Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
Trump was not alone in his support for gun control.
Congressman Dan Crenshaw put pre-crime legislation, such as the aforementioned red flag gun confiscation orders, and The Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety (TAPS) Act on the table. Seasoned member of the anti-gun establishment Lindsey Graham continued his push to undermine gun owners by fast-tracking his red flag proposal in the Senate, which would provide grants to states that already have red flag laws on the books to further enforce their laws.
Even Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey has joined the fray by resurrecting his previous efforts to move universal background check legislation forward. For those who forgot about the fallout from the Sandy Hook Massacre in 2012, Toomey teamed-up with West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin to introduce a universal background check bill. Thanks to pressure from grassroots Second Amendment groups, this bill was eventually scuttled.
Fast-forward to the present, and Republicans are completely enthused at the prospect of “doing something” to appear reasonable to the media and leave their pro-gun constituents out to dry.
All in all, it appears that supposedly “pro-gun” Republicans don’t have much to offer for no-compromise gun owners. Of course, if you think that the modern-day Democratic Party provides any kind of alternative to the increasingly spineless Republican Party, you would be sorely mistaken.
In fact, the GOP’s fecklessness on the issue of gun rights has made the anti-gun left even more rabid. When Republicans capitulate to red flag legislation, Democrats demand even steeper gun control legislation—universal gun registration and bans on specific firearms.
Just look at the current crop of Democratic Party presidential candidates.
First up, you have Kamala Harris. The former California Attorney General and now U.S. Senator is demanding executive action on gun control. She vowed that as president, she would use the Executive Branch to implement gun control if Congress does not pass gun control within the first 100 days of her presidential administration. This executive action includes expanding background checks, taking away licenses from gun manufacturers, and passing so-called “assault weapons” bans.
Right after the recent mass shootings, Harris declared that, “Assault weapons are weapons of war. They are designed to kill a lot of people quickly. There is no reason they should exist on the streets of a civil society. As president, I'll take executive action to ban imports of AR-15-style assault weapons.”
She then declared that the current “gun crisis” is a “national emergency.” She continued her anti-gun tirades on Twitter saying that, “We need to institute universal background checks. We need to ban military-style assault weapons. We need to ban high-capacity magazines. This is a national emergency. We need to act.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden offered his two cents after the recent wave of mass shootings. He was particularly focused on resurrecting the 1994 Assault Weapons ban which expired in 2004. During an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Biden was questioned about his gun control policies. When asked if Biden would go after people’s guns, Biden responded “Bingo.”
He went on to call for a national buyback program to get “assault weapons” off the streets. As a seasoned creature of the D.C. Swamp, Biden sponsored both the Gun Free-School Zones Act of 1990 and the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. Additionally, he voted for the 1993 Brady Act, which was one of the largest gun control expansions in American history. Based on his rhetoric on the campaign trail and his legislative track record, Biden should be treated as an imminent threat to gun owners.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has also made his anti-Second Amendment views clear after the El Paso and Dayton massacres. Sanders also has sights set on “assault weapons.” On Twitter, Sanders declared that, “We must ban the sale, distribution and transfer of assault weapons in the United States.”
Curiously, Sanders has caught some flak from leftist outlets for supposedly not being “pro-gun” enough. Interestingly, while Sanders was in the U.S. House, he voted against the 1993 Brady Act, though he did vote for the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
All in all, this election cycle does not look particularly good for gun owners. With Republicans caving to gun control and Democrats becoming even more emboldened in their efforts to push civilian disarmament, the 2020 election cycle looks like an anti-gun circus. With the sole exception of pro-gun champions Thomas Massie in the House and Rand Paul in the Senate, there appear to be few options for pro-gun advocates to draw inspiration from at the federal level.
All hope is not lost, however. There are plenty of battles at the local and state level that must be fought. Likewise, a growing number of state champions are emerging in legislatures across the country as issues like Constitutional Carry continue to gain ground.
Nevertheless, grassroots activists will be playing defense at the federal level as discussions of red flag gun confiscation heat up. For offensive purposes, lower levels of government appear to be where most opportunities are at for Second Amendment activists.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist writing from Fort Collins, Colorado. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.