By Larry Keane
National groups began the year with the high hopes of further restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. To them, it wasn’t about God-given rights enshrined in the Constitution or even about personal and community safety. To them it’s all about control.
But those hopes were decidedly dashed every step of the way throughout 2021 as law-abiding Americans fully embraced the Second Amendment, including millions who jumped off the fence and purchased a gun for the first time.
Americans handed gun control a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.
White House Woes
For gun control groups and their biggest backers, like billionaire and failed presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, expectations were sky high that President Joe Biden could deliver. After all, he outsourced his Veepstakes to Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and promised former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke he’d be his gun confiscation sheriff and help him “take care of the gun problem with me.”
As millions of law-abiding Americans continued buying firearms at near-record high numbers continuing the 2020 trend, political realities took hold and the White House and Pres. Biden faltered on their many promises. Gun control activists noticed and are feeling dispirited.
“He hasn’t really been a leader,” a policy director of March for Our Lives remarked. “We were really hopeful and he made a lot of promises.” A Giffords gun control representative added, “We would like to see more from the Biden administration.”
A senior advisor for Brady PAC stated, “It’s not enough.”
The White House failures to please gun control schemers were big and the changing demographics of the American gun owner were on full and public display as even U.S. Senate Democrats couldn’t be corralled into rubber-stamping the president’s gun control agenda.
The withdrawal of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) happened after a handful of Democratic senators voiced opposition to him, including Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).
Giffords Law Center Senior Policy Advisor David Chipman (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)That was followed up with the withdrawal of Saule Omarova as nominee for Comptroller of the Currency after she refused to rule out another Operation Choke Point. Even Senate Democrats on the banking committee voiced concerns about her.
In Congress, Second Amendment supporters have held strong and prevented any significant restrictions from passing, forcing the White House to rely on executive actions on the margins. Even those announcements have left gun control disappointed.
“They’ve done probably, through executive action, not everything they can do but a lot,” gun control activist Fred Guttenberg said.
Who’s Buying, Anyways?
The resistance to gun control restrictions isn’t coming from “the gun industry” or boogeymen within the “gun lobby” as gun control so often repeat. It’s come from law-abiding Americans who are making their voices heard at the ballot box and at the firearm retailer counter.
When billionaire gun control funder Michael Bloomberg spent $1 billion to buy more gun control elections, he was roundly rejected by voters. Instead, more than 21 million law-abiding Americans went to the community firearm retailer last year, passed a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification and walked out with a new gun. 8.4 million were first-time buyers in 2020 and more than 3.4 million did so during the first half of this year.
The remarkable changing demographics of the diverse gun owning community in America are demonstrated by who purchased a gun. Firearm industry data showed more than 40 percent of first-time buyers in 2020 were women. African-Americans bought firearms at a pace 58 percent higher in 2020 than they did in 2019. For Hispanic-Americans the rate was 49 percent higher; Asian-Americans at 42 percent higher.
If elected officials weren’t paying attention before, their voting constituencies might look a little different as Second Amendment support has reached high marks and polling support for more gun control has cratered.
Gun control politicians should take note as the buying trend continues and Americans keep choosing to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. Californian and Latino Rifle Association founder P.J. Gomez put it bluntly. “I don’t believe self-defense… should be exclusive to people on the right politically.”
The new year means Election Day 2021 is closer. NSSF launched #GUNVOTE to help inform and educate Second Amendment supporters to know where candidates stand on the issue. If politicians from the White House or Congress down to local town boards don’t pay attention, their voters will send them packing.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.