As the argument surrounding gun control and the Second Amendment occupies daily space in the mainstream media, anti-gun zealots must resort to increasingly outlandish claims in order to get the attention they seek. Most recently, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) compared the current campaign to force new gun restrictions through Congress to efforts by some state and local governments to ban plastic straws.
In an interview with CNN, Rep. Richmond said “we have cities that are banning plastic straws, and we can’t ban assault weapons? That just doesn’t make sense to me.” What really doesn’t make sense to me, is how a four-term Congressman fails to understand the difference between discretionary use of a drinking straw and a constitutionally protected right.
A city like San Francisco, for instance, which banned plastic straws starting last month, is made up of less than 800,000 people. It’s also one of the most liberal cities in America. It comes as a shock to no one that a proposal to ban plastic straws on the grounds of environmental protection would easily pass into law.
Obviously, it will be and should be more difficult to pass federal laws affecting all 327.2 million Americans, 53% of whom say they live in a gun-owning household.
Right to Bear…Straws?
Anti-gun politicians like Rep. Richmond seem to forget the right to keep and bear arms is included in the Bill of Rights, alongside the right to free speech, a free press and freedom to exercise religion.
The landmark 2008 Heller decision upheld keeping and bearing arms as an individual right protected by the Second Amendment. The founders of this country entrusted its citizens with the right to keep and bear arms, but nowhere does it discuss the right for Americans to keep their plastic straws.
Banning straws in uber-liberal enclaves like San Francisco might be trendy, but Rep. Richmond is also failing to consider that not all his fellow members of Congress or U.S. senators think rights should be so easily voted away. There are members of Congress who respect the voting power of the tens of millions of gun owners who protect their Second Amendment rights at the ballot box.
The ridiculousness of this isn’t just the fallacy of the comparison. Comparing a modern, plastic amenity to a Constitutional Right is not only insulting to America’s gun owners but also occupies space in the national conversation that could instead be focused on real solutions that can save lives.
Serious Debate, Real Solutions
The firearms industry knows about Real Solutions. We’re the ones who brought the idea of an instant background check at the retail gun counter to reality. We’re the ones who worked to improve the background checks through our FixNICS program and efforts to prevent illegal straw purchases with our Don’t Lie for the Other Guy campaign with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
We also partner with ATF in Operation Secure Store to prevent criminals from stealing firearms. Our Project Childsafe program has supplied firearms safety kits completely with free gun locks to 15,000 police departments for community distribution. The latest figure is over 38 million free kits and counting.
We also partnered with the largest suicide prevention program in the nation to provide ranges, retailers and those who frequent them the resources to intervene before a crisis.
Solutions like these, where all stakeholders can find common ground, can save American lives but the public doesn’t get to hear about them because the media spends its time covering ridiculous hyperbole by legislators like Rep. Richmond.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at National Shooting Sports Foundation.