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By Matt Manda

Eight Republican presidential candidates were under the bright lights in Milwaukee, Wis., this week as the 2024 election officially kicked off with the first televised debate of the campaign.

Fox News hosted the debate and candidates who qualified for the stage included North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, former Gov. and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Former President Donald Trump sat out the debate and instead sat for a Tucker Carlson interview posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.

Only one question in the two-hour debate focused on crime and how criminals are held accountable for their crimes, or in many big cities – not held accountable. The candidate responses highlighted reasons why Americans are continuing to buy firearms at historic levels, including more than 8 million first-time buyers just in the last couple of years. As Americans cite self-defense as a top reason for buying a firearm, 1 million or more National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications have been processed for 48 straight months.

Former Vice President Mike Pence

“Well I think what’s part to blame is that Democrats have been talking about defunding the police for the past five years,” the former vice president said. “It’s extraordinary to think about the violence that is claiming innocent lives literally every week in every major city in the country. And yet Democrats and liberal prosecutors in major metropolitan centers continue to work out their fanciful agendas, to do bail reform and go easy. What we need is a strong commitment to law enforcement.

Former Gov. Chris Christie

Former N.J. Gov. Christie was asked about the Democratic blame-game for saying there is “easy access to guns” and blaming Republicans for blocking more gun control legislation. The former governor highlighted his time as a federal prosecutor.

“The problem is not going to be solved by more money,” former Gov. Christie said. “The problem is these prosecutors, in these localities in the states, are refusing to do their job and arrest violent criminals. We have plenty of room in federal prisons to lock up these violent criminals and clean up what’s going on in these cities.”

He added that prosecutors need to get tough on those who lie on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) background check form and specifically referenced Hunter Biden, the president’s son.

Chris Christie

“We need to make sure these criminals understand – the laws apply to everybody,” former Gov. Christie explained. “And when Hunter Biden fills out a fake application, a false application for a gun, and then is facing a 10-year, mandatory minimum sentence – which was mandated by legislation sponsored by his father, and then you have a Justice Department that walks away from those charges – you’re telling people the law doesn’t apply to everyone. In a Christie administration, he would go to jail for 10 years.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis

The Florida governor hit soft-on-crime prosecutors for failing to hold criminals accountable.

“These hollowed-out cities, this is a symptom of America’s decline,” Gov. DeSantis said. “And one of the biggest reasons is because you have George Soros funding these radical Left-wing district attorneys that get into office and they say they’re not going to prosecute crimes they disagree with. The inmates start running the asylum.”

Gov. DeSantis highlighted his record of firing prosecutors for failing in their duties.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

“There’s one guy in this entire country that’s ever done anything about that – me,” he said. “When we had two of these district attorneys in Florida, elected with Soros funding who said they wouldn’t do their job, I removed them from their post. They are gone.”

Additional Background

NSSF led the FixNICS campaign and changed the law in 16 states and at the federal level to get all disqualifying records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System so the background check system is more complete and works as it was intended.

The public is educated and reminded of those stiff penalties with the help of the firearm industry’s partnership with the ATF under the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy initiative. With industry input and support, the federal minimum sentence for an individual who lies on a firearm background check, like Hunter Biden did, and makes an illegal “straw purchase” of a firearm was increased from 10 years to 15 years. That was a provision of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) that NSSF supported.


Matt Manda is Manager, Public Affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation

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  1. Changing the MINIMUM penalty on 4473 inaccuracies from 10 years to 15 years is a bit much. It also doesn’t accomplish anything when the law is so selectively enforced so that someone like Hunter Biden buying guns while addicted to cocaine gets zero jail time, while an elderly grandmother dying of cancer with a legal prescription from a doctor for medical marijuana (in a state where it’s legal!) can get a 15 year sentence and die in prison.

    The prohibition on medical marijuana users owning guns needs to be lifted, rather than increasing the mandatory minimum from 10 years to 15 years. Not just medical marijuana, either, but all marijuana. Someone who has an occasional drink (which is what, 90% of the adult population?) can legally buy guns, so why can’t someone who has an occasional puff of marijuana buy guns? It makes no sense, zero sense.

    If anyone needs a better reason to lift the ban on marijuana users from buying guns, here’s one: Joe Biden wants to keep the ban in place!

    • Remember, Gov. Crispy Cream did nothing for any of PRoNJs onerous gun laws. He’s an A+ RINO who was the perfect lead into Murphy’s reign. Stucky, we’ve got to gtfo.

      • Simple, while I am vehemently opposed to Crispy Cream, no governor can legally just eliminate laws that the legislature and a former governor already put on the books.

  2. a few traitors in that lineup.
    i knew a ramiswamy in kindygarten, wonder if their related.
    the old guard represented by murdoch, christy is a blob like putzker, pence is frikkin’ jerkoff.

    • It’s possible they are related, since the caste system is still very much alive in India, and it’s popular for them to get their kids educated in America, and that education costs some money.

      Anyways, Donut just did a breakdown on the Fargo jihadi shooting :

      • Nice shooting by the officer, his first few shots from about 30 yards away disabled the AK…

  3. I didn’t watch it. Didn’t care to. Wouldn’t have seen it regardless.

    Nothing said there means anything.

  4. Why does a site like this not point out that the questions on a 4473 violate the Bill of Rights because we have no duty to incriminate ourselves. It also be nice to hear that all infringements are anti-Constitutional….

  5. I would also argue that our Governments have no authority to legislate what we, as free people, consume. Hunter didn’t lie on his 4473!

    • hunter did lie. The question is why do we have 4473’s at all? Why do we have to answer questions and under go a background check to exercise a right?

    • That’s llke saying Hunter was never forced to resign his Naval Officer Commission for drug use, (omission on a 4473 is well you can decide).

  6. Five leftist neo-cons and maybe three who know what’s up get asked globalist talking-point questions by leftist moderators on a globalist MSM network and we’re supposed to believe this represents the alternative way.

  7. None of these Uniparty members (possible exception of Ramaswamy) would do anything significantly different than Biden.

    Besides that, unless federal law is changed so that feds can arrest state and local officials for abdication of duties, it really won’t matter what their opinions are as President.

    • If the fed gov is allowed to arrest state officials for dereliction of duty, you believe they will arrest the people who are actually derelict, or the people who have refused to go along with the leftist lunacy? My bet is the first people arrested would be anyone who hinders the genital mutilation of minors. Just look at who is getting arrested now. What makes you think a new law would change that?

  8. Absolutely defund the police, however it must be done absolutely. No lawyers No laws
    No police to protect the guilty.
    As far as candidates and debates, it’s a pony show”they” already know who’s going to be the next prez.

    • Might as well defund them, they are practically worthless in their role of “Protect & Serve.” You are your own first responder. When seconds count the police are minutes away -often closer to an hour or more. All the proof anyone needs is the Uvalde mess to show us how little value we are getting for our tax dollars for these clowns.

      Personally, instead of defunding them I’d prefer they start by removing their qualified immunity and make them all personally responsible for every instance of violating the rights of the civilians they supposedly work.for. Have every single lawsuit come out of their personal pockets or their group retirement funds.

      Secondly how about disarming them?. If there is one dangerous class in this nation that shouldn’t have access to firearms it is them. Disarm them and instead of training them to be a standing army of soldiers amongst us required them to be certified social workers with degrees in psychiatry or counseling. If they run into a situation where they need firepower then they can deputize an armed citizen on the scene to assist them. Every single citizen should be armed anyway.

    • I agree, totally defund the police. And at the same time, repeal all the laws that stop the law-abiding from killing criminals. For any crime may commit. And no criminal or civil prosecutions of the law abiding gun users.

      • Of course Trump did not win by not speaking, but he did win the evening and the viewership numbers clearly reflect that as .40 Cal stated below in his comments.
        Sometime silence is golden and it certainly was for Trump on the evening of the debate.

    • He didn’t have to explain why he supports Red Flag laws to take the guns away first and worry about due process later -or how he would use his pen to ban more gun parts in his second term.

      ANYone who supports this anti gun idiot hasn’t been paying attention.

  9. “or in many big cities – not held accountable”

    In many big cities? How about the entire country? Who was held accountable for the fraudulent Russian collusion investigation? It isn’t just that they weren’t held accountable. They were rewarded. If anything, they’ve been emboldened. There’s no downside in using the system to advance their corrupt agendas. Who was held accountable for the Afghanistan disaster? Did anyone resign? Who was held accountable for saying we wouldn’t have inflation? Who at least lost their job or got demoted? Why didn’t the Federal Reserve use the same “calculations” they used to raise rates in 2018? Why did they wait so long? It was a scam so the the dems could push through trillions of unnecessary (and very harmful) spending. TRILLIONS. That’s what they’re fighting for. The ideological battles are a distraction.

    • Dude your spot on, and it doesn’t matter red ,blue, right or left they all do it. They abuse their power and spend OUR money in ridiculous ways. Then when/if they get called out or a court miraculously shuts them down nothing happens, there are no consequences.
      And the sheep go back to sleep.

  10. “changed the law in 16 states and at the federal level to get all disqualifying records into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System”

    False. Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are NOT REQUIRED to report mentally ill people to the FBI, or anyone else.

    Doctors and other social service type professionals are required to report all instances of suspected child abuse, which invades patient’s privacy at least as much as reporting nutcases. We NEED the psychiatric people to be held equally accountable as medical professionals.

    Drug use, in and of itself, shouldn’t disqualify you from exercising your rights. But, SOME DRUGS have a horrible track record of unhinging the people using the drugs.

    • I suspect that a lot of the drugs people are on legally and even with a doctor’s note…are ineffective or do more than they’re supposed to do.

    • Paul, I have some news for you. No doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist etc can report anything to the FBI for inclusion in NICS due to the HIPPA law.
      Child abuse is a different story as the doctor, etc has physical evidence of the abuse.
      Drug abuse is not a crime in itself but the possession of a drug illegally is often a felony.

  11. If the eventual GOP nominee has at least 3 working brain cells, I’ll vote for him/her in the general election. Not because they are all that wonderful, but my neutered tomcat would be better than the current WH resident.

  12. Seriously though… was this really a debate? ya got several people limited to specific short questions on very complicated subjects and then limited to maybe a minute to a minute 30 seconds to respond then some of them spend their time attacking the others in the debate.

    I think Trump had the better idea here for the interview with Carlson. And although it could be arguable, ~200 million people ‘tuned in’ for the Trump-Carlson interview and only ~13 million for the Fox debate. So even if you apply the estimated for those that watched the whole thing to say that only 10% of each actually watched the whole thing of either – that’s still 20 million who watched the Trump-Carlson interview and only 1.3 million that watched the Fox debate. So there was clearly more interest in what Trump had to say.

    • 40 I believe 2 hours of Trump’s mugshot and total silence would have been more interesting.
      Or a nice pic of his first lady!

  13. I didn’t see anything on that stage except people who could be trusted to sell out the Second Amendment when the going gets tough.

  14. I live in Florida.
    Ron DeSantis has done a great job as governor.
    He has promised to sign a repeal of the red flag law if the legislature would send it to his desk.

    As mentioned in the article he removed the DAs who refused to enforce tough on crime laws.
    He resisted the last lockdown.
    You can bet Florida will not go along with the coming mask mandate.

    He has the Maga agenda without the mean tweets.
    I think hewould make an excellent president

  15. Why can’t NICS give you a simple explanation about why you are on NICS? You contact them about a gun purchase denial and they refuse to respond. I would like to know why I am a “prohibited person.” The US Marshal’s service visited my apartment complex in Oklahoma 3 months after I was denied the purchase of a gun but the Marshal only spoke to the landlord to confirm that I lived there.

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