Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has emerged as a top-tier contender to be a running mate for presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s antigun ticket. During these worrisome times of the coronavirus pandemic and violent riots erupting in cities across the country, the former Orlando top cop has a lot to say about gun control. Most of it is assigning guilt for the criminal activity to law-abiding gun owners.
Biden’s antigun track record is well-known, and the decision to choose his running mate is has largely been delegated. Others under consideration include failed former 2020 primary candidates U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and failed 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Those candidates carry the gun control banner proudly. Rep. Demings, though, should know better. She carried a gun as a law enforcement professional before entering politics.
Police Chiefs Know: Criminals Don’t Follow Laws
During her Everytown Veepstakes tryout Moms Demand Action’s Shannon Watts highlighted Rep. Demings’ background as especially pertinent. Before Congress, Rep. Demings had 27 years of experience at the Orlando police department, including being named Chief of Police in 2007. Missing from her introductory biography, however, was that Rep. Demings was censured after leaving her service-issued firearm unsecured in her car allowing it to be stolen by a criminal. Not exactly, “gun control” now is it?
Her excuse was she was expecting guests with children in her home. Apparently during nearly three decades of police service she never bought a proper gun safe. Her own police department partners with NSSF’s Project Childsafe® that provides free firearm safety kits, including gun locks. She could have grabbed one and practice what she preaches.
Rep. Demings touted a recent congressional gun control hearing, describing to Watts how she proclaimed to a witness, “I’ve enforced the laws. And now I write the laws!” She continued, “And believe me it makes such a difference to understand, to have seen up close and personal what some of the vulnerabilities were or some of the loopholes were in the laws during the time I enforced the laws.”
She failed to mention the most important point she vocalized during that committee hearing though, that she was, “… sick and tired of watching [people] die through gun violence by someone with a gun who should never had a gun in their possession in the first place.”
Given her extensive background, Rep. Demings likely knows best where and how criminals obtain the firearms they use while committing crimes. They steal them, trade them for drugs and buy them on the black market, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Hypocrisy, Distortions and Media Bright Lights
As her election stock rises, Rep. Demings has made the rounds on national media. She was a guest on Meet the Press and also penned an editorial titled “My Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Blue, What the Hell Are You Doing?” She’s used each to prop up Biden’s antigun bona fides and burnish her gun control credentials.
She backs his desire to pass a new assault weapons ban even though the evidence established the previous one didn’t work. She also supports grab-bag legislation that would enact red flag laws that deny due process to the accused.
Rep. Demings bemoaned the legitimate reasons why millions of law-abiding Americans have purchased firearms to protect themselves, their families and their property, stating “Look what’s happening all over our nation. You just talked about the increase in gun sales during this time. People are dying senselessly as a result of gun violence.”
She equates lawful firearm ownership with criminal and murderous activities by those who have no respect for the law – or her fellow law enforcement officers. In her mind, there’s no difference between known gang criminals who prey on society’s most vulnerable and law-abiding Americans exercising their constitutional rights.
Perhaps Rep. Demings hasn’t seen the numerous examples of video footage showing law-abiding small business owners legally protecting their livelihoods while law enforcement is stretched thin. Or maybe no one has shown her the good guys keeping watch and coming to aid peaceful citizens while rioters destroy both public and private property and attack police and civilians.
She’s been suspiciously silent on the murder of Federal Protection Service Officer David Underwood, murdered in Oakland, Calif., or the gunfire aimed at police by St. Louis rioters, or the Las Vegas rioter that shot a police officer in the back of his head. To be clear, these were not the actions of peaceful protesters lawfully exercising their First Amendment right.
The 2020 Campaign Continues
The attention and scrutiny will build as Rep. Demings continues the vetting process to join Biden’s ticket and she will likely have more to say about increasing gun control. To ensure voters are armed with the facts, NSSF launched the online education resource #GUNVOTE. Voters need to know where the candidates stand on firearm issues and policies so in November 2020, they 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.