By Larry Keane
The debate stage in Charleston, S.C. was the place to be Tuesday night for Democratic presidential candidates who wanted to demonstrate their lack of firearms knowledge and Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
There certainly were a lot of words and crosstalk during the heated back-and-forth between candidates on the criminal misuse of firearms. However, the candidates’ platforms included wildly false statements, tired scare language and egregiously wrong facts. Unfortunately for the American people, the debate offered gun control platitudes, not serious answers voters deserve.
Biden Targets Manufacturers
Former Vice President Joe Biden, desperate to make South Carolina his vaunted firewall, used firearms as a verbal bludgeon. He attacked U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) vote against the Brady background check bill in the 1990s. His gun-control highlight reel continued as he thundered a warning shot to firearms manufacturers if elected, bellowing, “I’m coming for you, and gun manufacturers, I’m going to take you on and I’m going to beat you.”
Former Vice President Biden also reminded the national audience he supported the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, even though it did nothing to reduce crime. He tried to paint Sen. Sanders at fault because he once voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Doing that, though, he reminded the audience that frontrunner Sen. Sanders can’t be trusted because he once supported gun rights only to change his platform to meet the radical gun control elements of his base. Biden’s dinger for the night, though, was grossly overstating that 150 million Americans died by wrongful gun use since 2007. No, Joe – half the U.S. population didn’t die due to guns in the last thirteen years.
Sen. Sanders’ Laundry List
Sen. Sanders might want to ban so-called assault weapons, but he was firing off gun control myths at rapid-fire. Sen. Sanders rattled off a series of groaners “Right now, my view is we need to expand background checks, end the gun show loophole, and do what the American people want, not what the NRA wants.”
The senator knows there’s no such thing, that firearms sold at shows by retailers are subject to the same background checks as in stores. His demand for universal background checks is really a call to ban the private transfer of firearms, even among close relatives. When. Sen. Sanders says he wants a so-called “assault weapons” ban, he’s purposefully conflating semiautomatic modern sporting rifles with those used by the military.
Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg used his time to call for a ban on “anything remotely like what I trained on …” Buttigieg, a former Navy Reservist, invoked the scare-tactic language often used against modern sporting rifles. As a veteran, he knows or at least should know, the difference between the military rifle and an MSR.
Buttigieg purposefully misstates that the MSR fires only one bullet per each pull of the trigger, just like handguns and shotguns. That’s not a surprise to those who legally and safely own and use the more than 17.7 million in circulation today.
Other Stray Shots
The four other candidates spoke up as well, mostly stating similar inaccuracies. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted his gun control groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action and also recently tweeted “Every day, 100 Americans are killed by guns.” He arrives at that figure by lumping together criminal misuse of firearms with suicides to justify his gun-grabbing agenda.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she could enact her grand plan for gun control if the Senate would just eliminate the filibuster. This would entail a series of crippling taxes on firearm and ammunition, an age-based gun ban, a national license to exercise Second Amendment rights and repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
Outsider billionaire Tom Steyer blamed the inability to move gun control on corporate greed, insisting congressional terms limits are needed to get it done. Lastly, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reminded the audience she “has the receipts” for gun control, and would ensure domestic abusers can’t buy an AK-47 and that she authored the bill to close the “boyfriend loophole” of domestic abusers.
The only coherent message from the field of candidates is they’re aiming squarely at knocking down the rights of law-abiding gun owners instead of addressing crime.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.