This feature appears in the November ‘16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Pro-gun candidates don’t come any better than Mike Pence.
Pence has fought for our Second Amendment-protected freedoms as a member of Congress, as governor of Indiana and now as a vice-presidential candidate, having been chosen by Donald Trump as his running mate in this year’s race for the White House.
He began his political career after being elected to Congress in 2000, serving until he announced his run for governor in 2012. In his 12 years as a congressman, he compiled a strong voting record on firearm issues.
In 2012, Pence took a well-deserved NRA “A” rating and endorsement into the Indiana gubernatorial race and won. Since then, Pence has provided a solid example of how to protect and promote the Second Amendment as a chief executive.
In Congress and as Indiana’s governor, Pence has proved time and again that he will defend our freedoms.
The Supreme Court And The Second Amendment
As NRA members are aware, the Second Amendment hangs in the balance this election, and Pence agrees. In his speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, he noted, “for the sake of our Second Amendment and for the sake of all our other God-given liberties, we must ensure that the next president appointing justices to the Supreme Court is Donald Trump.”
“No state has the right to legislate away the blood-bought constitutional right of every law-abiding American to protect their person, their family and their liberty.” – Mike PenceThis was not just political speech-making for Pence. He has long understood the importance of the Supreme Court and its Second Amendment jurisprudence. In fact, he joined other pro-gun members of Congress in filing amicus briefs in the two landmark Second Amendment cases, District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago in 2010.
In both cases, the amicus briefs Pence joined argued that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms and that the gun bans being challenged were unconstitutional infringements of that right. Thankfully, this argument prevailed in both cases, with the Supreme Court striking down the D.C. ban in Heller and the Chicago ban in McDonald.
Immediately after the McDonald ruling, Pence issued a statement praising the court. In stirring language, he said, “No state has the right to legislate away the blood-bought constitutional right of every law-abiding American to protect their person, their family and their liberty.”
He noted further, “This decision is a victory for the Second Amendment, but as a 5-to-4 ruling among the justices, it also sends a warning. The Supreme Court is closely divided and at least four of its members would not extend a basic constitutional right to all 50 states. For that reason alone, the nomination and confirmation of any Supreme Court justice requires careful deliberation to ensure that the members of the high court will protect the rights handed down by our Founding Fathers.”
With Hillary Clinton’s contention that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment” and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s stated intent to overturn Heller, Pence’s words of warning resonate even more today than the day he said them.
Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act (PLCAA)
While in Congress, Pence repeatedly voted to pass legislation to protect firearm manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for the criminal actions of third parties. This protection is vital because prior to enactment of the PLCAA, gun-control supporters brought suit in dozens of cities across the country, intending to bankrupt the gun industry with repeated harassment and intimidation in the courts. The tactic represented an immediate threat to our firearm freedoms.
In April 2003, Pence voted to pass an early version of the PLCAA, and voted against every gutting amendment brought forward by gun controllers who were attempting to undermine its protections. Though the 2003 version eventually failed, Pence was also there for gun owners in October 2005, voting in favor of the final PLCAA following its passage in the Senate.
Pence’s work to protect lawful firearms commerce didn’t end when he left Congress, however. As Indiana’s governor, he signed legislation on May 4, 2015, strengthening state protections prohibiting lawsuits against members of the firearm industry stemming from the misuse of their products by a third party. That action immediately halted a frivolous lawsuit filed by the city of Gary against firearm manufacturers and dealers that had been languishing in the courts since 1999.
The Right To Carry
Pence has made clear that he will defend our right to carry. In 2009, he voted for an amendment that allowed law-abiding gun owners to carry concealed in national parks, as long as the gun owners are in compliance with state law.
He has also demonstrated his support for federal Right-to-Carry reciprocity legislation to ensure that a Right-to-Carry permit issued by one state is valid throughout the country. In November 2011, Pence voted to pass NRA-supported federal Right-to-Carry reciprocity legislation and voted against numerous attempts to gut the bill. Specifically, he voted against an amendment to create a nationally accessible database of permit holders, as well as one requiring states to pass their own legislation adopting the bill before it could have any effect.In 2012, Pence took a well-deserved NRA “A” rating and endorsement into the Indiana gubernatorial race and won. Since then, Pence has provided a solid example of how to protect and promote the Second Amendment as a chief executive.
As governor, Pence worked to strengthen the right to carry for Indiana permit holders. In March 2014, Pence signed legislation permitting lawfully possessed firearms to be stored out of sight in a locked vehicle while on school property.
Our Outdoor Heritage
Pence has also worked to protect the rights of sportsmen. As a congressman, he voted in favor of the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012, which included a number of different measures aimed at securing America’s shooting sports for future generations. Importantly, the legislation included an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act to strengthen the protection of traditional ammunition. The bill also sought to secure continued recreational shooting and expand hunting opportunities on public lands.
As governor, Pence signed legislation that created the language for this year’s state ballot Question 1, which asks Hoosiers to amend the Indiana Constitution to protect the right to hunt and fish. He not only signed the bill, but he has been a leading proponent of its final passage by the voters in November.
Trump’s choice of Pence for the role of vice president demonstrates that we have a presidential ticket that believes in our rights and is committed to defending them. We don’t just have an opponent to vote against with Clinton—with Trump and Pence, we have a ticket to vote for.
SIDEBAR: Pence vs. Kaine
While Donald Trump’s choice of Mike Pence shows his commitment to the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton’s choice of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) further reveals her hostility toward it.
From the outset of his political career, Kaine has prioritized attacking the rights of law-abiding gun owners. In 1997, as a Richmond city councilman, he suggested that Virginia’s urban centers—such as Richmond, Fairfax and Norfolk—should team up to push gun controls that much of the state opposed. In 2000, as mayor of Richmond, Kaine spent nearly $7,000 in city funds to charter buses to take city residents to the anti-gun Million Mom March in Washington, D.C. He repeatedly defended the misuse of public funds and, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said of gun control, “I can’t think of an issue I’d rather be aligned with than this.”
Trump’s choice of Pence for the role of vice president demonstrates that we have a presidential ticket that believes in our rights and is committed to defending them.As governor of Virginia, Kaine continued to support gun control. He repeatedly vetoed legislation that would have made it legal to carry a gun in a locked container of a motor vehicle without obtaining a Right-to-Carry permit, and vetoed legislation permitting Right-to-Carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. Following the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, Kaine prioritized legislation to restrict the private transfer of firearms at gun shows, despite the fact that the perpetrator of the Virginia Tech attack passed a background check prior to purchasing his firearms.
As a U.S. senator, Kaine has supported a wide array of gun controls. He has voted for legislation to ban commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and their magazines; endorsed background check legislation that would criminalize nearly all private transfers of firearms; and voted to deny the Second Amendment-protected rights of those on secret government watch lists without due process.
Kaine also routinely votes against pro-gun legislation, including opposing a bill to create national Right-to-Carry reciprocity for lawful concealed-carry permit holders. In addition, he voted against a bill to ensure that veterans are not stripped of their Second Amendment-protected rights without due process.
When the records of the presidential running mates are examined side by side, the message is clear. With Pence, Trump has demonstrated that he is committed to protecting and promoting the Second Amendment. With Kaine, Clinton has chosen to double down on her already abysmal record on guns and freedom.