The Second Amendment is inalienable and there is a perfect storm right now demonstrating its vital importance.
There is a constant barrage of attacks on the Second Amendment in “normal” times. These days are hardly normal, given the coronavirus pandemic, near economic standstill of stay-at-home orders and business closures and now rioting. Local law enforcement was already stretched thin when governors and mayors announced they were releasing criminals and prosecutors said they wouldn’t prosecute criminals.
It’s no surprise firearm purchases soared. Millions of these buyers did so for the first time. Some were formerly in favor of strict gun control, but were surprised by the obstacles encountered when they jumped off the fence and approached the gun counter for themselves.
The destruction and violence caused by rioters and looters, stumping on the message of peaceful protests, has thrown gasoline on the fire. Innocent bystanders are attacked, businesses built up over a lifetime were burned to the ground and now the calls to defund police departments are being shouted across the country.
America is waking up to the notion that rights aren’t the only thing reserved for individuals. Responsibility to exercise those rights is shouldered by individuals as well. More than six million background checks were conducted in three months for the sale of a firearm. NSSF retailer surveys discovered nearly 2.5 million people became a first-time gun owner during that time.
That starts at the gun counter. The ability to exercise the right to keep and bear arms starts when law-abiding citizens are free to purchase the firearm they choose to defend themselves and their loved ones. Government interference with that constitutionally-protected right is nothing short of infringement. Deny the right to legally purchase a gun and it’s a violation of a constitutional right, just as it would be for a government to illegally search and seize property or illegally silence free speech.
There is a cast of characters, though, ignoring the trends and instead spread fear about lawful gun ownership. The mayor of Chicago, a city with strict gun control that just had its deadliest weekend of criminal shootings in sixty years, lectured Chicagoans facing danger. Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “Do not pick up arms and try to be the police. If there’s a problem, call 911.”
Gun control governors, like Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, belittle gun owners who take responsibility for their own safety. Gov. Cuomo might take a lesson on accepting responsibility instead of bickering with New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio while the city burns and the mayor criticizes the N.Y. Police Department.
The disdain for the Second Amendment isn’t limited to those gun control politicians in office. Those seeking more gun control scoff at the idea that anyone other than police should have guns, while denigrating police in the next breath. The now-clinched Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s antigun record is well-known.
Biden’s notorious for his bombastic babble on guns. He recently said police should shoot “unarmed” knife-wielding attackers in the legs and once told his wife to blindly fire a double-barreled shotgun into the night sky. Both aren’t just dangerous ideas, but legal insanity.
He relegated his VP decision-making to billionaire Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control groups that regularly mock lawful gun owners and spout distortions and misstatements. Biden also declared he’d name former U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-Texas) his chief gun-grabbing sheriff who is “going to take your AR-15.”
He also said he’d have the police go door-to-door to collect them. There are more than 17 million modern sporting rifles in circulation today and with defunding police being the cause-du-jour adopted by the same politicians who can’t stand guns, it begs the question just who will seize all of those guns in the end.
Bloomberg oozes contempt for law-abiding Americans who own and legally carry guns every day without incident. He was caught in a do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do moment during his failed presidential campaign when he stated he deserved private armed security because he was “very wealthy.” He also dismissed the heroic life-saving actions of a good guy with a gun who killed a would-be mass murder, dismissing it.
“It may be true, I wasn’t there and don’t know the facts, that somebody in the congregation had his own gun and killed the person who murdered two other people, but it’s the job of law enforcement to have guns and to decide when to shoot,” Bloomberg said. “You just do not want the average citizen carrying a gun in a crowded place.”
Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions might be over, but it doesn’t mean his desire to influence the race is. He endorsed Biden and is spending millions in support gun control in 2020.
Average Educated Citizens
It’s important to understand that the “average citizen carrying a gun” is exactly who the Founding Fathers thought should have a gun. It’s the average citizen for whom the Second Amendment was written. The late Justice Antonin Scalia explained as much in his majority Heller decision. The Second Amendment is an individual right. They are the same average citizens protecting their neighbor’s business from being destroyed and looted during recent riots.
The Second Amendment is crucial to the firearm and ammunition industry to ensure lawful firearm ownership. Without it, gun control politicians would have written away the right of Americans to purchase and possess firearms. It’s why NSSF fought for the federal government to list the industry as “essential” during the COVID-19 business closures. NSSF also believes in programs and education that make responsible gun owners smarter and safer.
NSSF launched Project ChildSafe more than 20 years ago to reduce firearm accidents in the home by partnering with local law enforcement across the country to distribute more than 38 million firearm safety kits with gun locks free of charge. Operation Secure Store, a partner program with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, educates retailers about how to increase security and reduce instances of theft and robberies. NSSF also partners with the ATF to lead the way in preventing illegal straw purchases of firearms through the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign.
These are Real Solutions with proven track records at reducing criminal misuse and acquisition of firearms and gun accidents, resulting in the record low number of unintended firearm fatalities in more than one hundred years in 2019. This is what safe and responsible firearm ownership looks like. It’s an industry leading the way, proving real answers without infringing on fundamental rights. That’s what frightens those politicians who abhor the Second Amendment.
To educate current and potential gun owners about political candidates and office holders, NSSF regularly updates the online #GUNVOTE resource so voters can head to the polls confidently and don’t risk their rights.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.