Democrats have long been the party of “gun control,” but for the last 20 years or so have, in much of the country, tried to keep their eagerness for forcible citizen disarmament under wraps.
Former President Bill Clinton identified the people’s backlash against the ban of so-called “assault weapons” in 1994 as having played a leading role in the party’s dreadful electoral showing that year. Al Gore’s advocacy of restrictive gun laws may very well have cost him his own state of Tennessee in the 2000 Presidential election—thus costing him the Presidency itself.
Reluctance to reveal the depth of intensity of their zeal to disarm Americans became even greater following the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008, which clearly stated that the Second Amendment protects the individual’s right to keep and bear arms, rather than the right of some nebulous “collective.”
When, two years later, the Court decided in McDonald v. Chicago that the right to keep and bear arms is sufficiently fundamental to merit incorporation, thus limiting not only federal power to disarm the people, but state and local governments’ power as well, Democrats running for office felt even more obligated to proclaim their “respect” for the Second Amendment.
It should surprise no one that the pendulum would eventually swing in the other direction, with Democrats— even in regions with a strong tradition of gun ownership—emboldened to attack the people’s access to lifeand liberty-preserving firepower with hardly as much as a nod to the Second Amendment.
The beginning of the shift can perhaps be traced back to the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, in which 20 young children and six educators and administrators were murdered by a deranged lunatic with a stolen rifle. “Gun control” advocates cynically exploited that horror to advance their agenda, and continue to go back to that playbook with every high-profile shooting.
Gun-ban zealots’ spirits got another boost in December, when the Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Highland Park, Illinois’ “assault weapon” ban. This, they falsely tell us, can be seen as a tacit endorsement on the Court’s part of the Constitutionality of such bans. In reality, the Supreme Court had never ruled on that question, and still has not, so nothing has changed—but that doesn’t fit the preferred narrative.
Thus Hillary Clinton, who, while on the campaign trail in 2008, reminisced fondly about duck hunting with her father, now calls gun-rights advocates a “minority” who must not be allowed to “hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.” That’s right— she wants to ban a viewpoint that she deems dangerous.
Clinton’s current Presidential campaign also features frequent attacks on rival Democrat candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT)—a socialist who wants to ban “assault weapons”—for not being extreme enough in his advocacy of oppressive gun laws. What’s more, those attacks are hitting home. Sanders’ best-known “pro-gun” vote was in 2005, in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects the gun industry from frivolous and predatory lawsuits that have nothing to do with malfeasance on the part of the industry.
This has been Clinton’s favorite target when attacking Sanders’ “gun control” street cred. At first he defended that vote, pointing out that no one would consider suing a hammer manufacturer for making and selling a hammer used as a murder weapon.
But now Sanders is co-sponsoring a bill that would repeal legislation he vocally supported only a few months ago. He is, in other words, more frightened of being “out-gun controlled” than he is of showing himself to be so transparently willing to put political expediency ahead of principle—in a campaign built largely around his ostensible role as the candidate of integrity and principle.
But Democrats’ newfound willingness to openly pursue draconian gun regulation is not restricted to Presidential or national politics. In Georgia, legislation has been introduced to ban so-called “assault weapons,” so-called “high-capacity” magazines, so-called “armor-piercing” ammunition, and .50- caliber incendiary ammunition.
So far, there is nothing particularly new here—most of these things have been favorite targets of gun-ban zealots for a long time. There is no “grandfather clause” in these bills to protect the right to keep such arms if already owned in the state prior to the effective date of the law, even for those willing to register them with the state.
That’s right, what one bought legally and kept legally will suddenly become illegal, and the owner a felon. The state will not even attempt to compensate the owners, who will be required to surrender their arms and eat the entire cost themselves.
Granted, the bill is going nowhere, but the fact that Georgia Democrats are willing to have their names associated with it at all is telling. If introduction of and support for such legislation is not a death knell for a political career in a southern state like Georgia, can similar bills be considered impossible to pass in states in which the people have historically been far more willing to allow themselves to be denied effective fighting arms?
The Democrats—even the “moderate” ones—have lost their fear of the consequences of infringing that which shall not be infringed. Indeed, it seems they now fear more for their political careers if they do not attack the right of Americans to keep and bear arms.
What they seem to have forgotten is that as consequences for violating Americans’ fundamental human rights go, an electoral loss and the end of one’s political career are pretty small potatoes.