What do you call a man who runs for the nation’s highest office specifically on a platform of gun control and who believes modern mass media does a fantastic job of “uphold[ing] the promise of our Constitution”?
How about a failure? Perhaps a hypocrite? Maybe both?
If you haven’t heard of Rep. Eric Swalwell of California’s 15th District, don’t feel too bad. You are in good company.
Swalwell was among two dozen or so pretenders angling for the Democrat nomination in next year’s presidential election. His four-month-long bid ended July 8—likely before most Americans even knew it had started.
On the other hand, earlier Swalwell gained some notoriety (or infamy, as the case may be) as the U.S. Congressman who endorsed a broad ban on common semi-automatic rifles requiring even those who had previously obtained the guns lawfully to surrender them to the government.
In a testy Twitter exchange, he invoked—he later claimed jokingly—the use of nuclear weapons against those who would dare to resist this proposal.
The backlash provoked by that public gaffe might have been enough to convince most people that they didn’t have much of a future claiming to represent the American electorate.
But not Eric Swalwell.
Not only did he go on to launch what he grandiosely called his “presidential campaign,” he did so with extreme gun control as his signature issue. Speaking at a town hall meeting on gun control the day after he announced his candidacy, Swalwell told his audience: “My pledge to you tonight is that this issue comes first.”
Later, he boasted to the media: “I’m taking the battle to the NRA’s doorstep with a new, broader package of common-sense reforms to end gun violence.”
The rollout of this initiative was supposed to occur in a dramatic press conference in late June in front of the NRA’s Fairfax, Va., headquarters.
Yet, the “event” managed to draw only a small handful of people. Favored with relatively good weather for a Virginia summer, the crowd topped out at 18 people during the height of the proceedings.
Ironically, this embarrassingly lame spectacle occurred at the same time a capacity crowd was massing at the 20,000-seat Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., to attend the re-election kick-off event for President Donald Trump.
This coincidence of events—and the contrast in numbers and enthusiasm between the two men’s supporters—said all that needed to be said about how badly Swalwell had misread the American appetite for extreme gun control.
President Trump, of course, is a champion of gun owners and a staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. He mentioned the Second Amendment three times in Orlando, provoking raucous cheering and applause from the crowd.
Like his would-be opponent from California, the president has situated guns at the center of his campaign, but from the opposite viewpoint. “We will protect our Second Amendment,” he promised in Orlando.
Meanwhile, the plan Swalwell unveiled at his June press conference would, if enacted in its entirety, make access to firearms in America more restrictive than in most Western nations that have no pretense of a constitutional right to arms.
The framework’s centerpiece was a massive ban on semi-automatic firearms, with criminal penalties awaiting current owners who refused to relinquish their lawfully obtained and constitutionally protected property for whatever compensation the bureaucracy deemed fitting.
But there was much more, including a 200-round cap on the amount of ammunition a person could possess in a given cartridge or gauge; a nationwide registry of every gun owner and firearm in America; federal licensing and training of firearm owners; and rationing of handgun and ammunition purchases.
That’s not even a complete list, but it does help to show how out-of-step Swalwell is on guns, including among an increasingly anti-gun field of Democratic candidates running their parties nomination, to say nothing of the public at large.
Even the anti-gun Washington Post recognized the delusional nature of Eric Swalwell’s candidacy. “[H]e did himself and his party some good,” a Post article stated, by “recognizing his presidential campaign was going nowhere.”
On that point, at least, I can agree with The Washington Post.