This feature appears in the January ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
On Nov. 8, Hillary Clinton, whose cruise to the Oval Office had been treated as a fait accompli by the national media, was swamped by Republican Donald J. Trump in a stunning political upset—led by America’s gun owners.
We have every right to celebrate; backed by millions of dollars from anti-gun billionaires George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton openly campaigned against gun rights, betting that public opinion had been turned against firearm freedom. Despite continued setbacks, the D.C. City Council has crafted a bureaucratic web of regulations that lower courts have upheld as “reasonable restrictions.”
It was a massive miscalculation. Gun owners were spurred to vote for Trump, the most pro-gun rights presidential candidate of the modern era, in order to protect the Second Amendment victories they’d won over the past two decades. With so much at stake, the National Rifle Association set precedent by endorsing Trump’s candidacy earlier than ever before, and spent millions of dollars to push him over the top.
Coupled with wins that kept pro-gun candidates in the majority in Congress, as well as gains in the states, gun owners celebrated vindication with elation. However, behind all the exit polls and electoral-college predictions lurks a stark truth that could yet unravel the fragile fabric of the Second Amendment:
Gun owners had just won a political battle in a cultural war.
Overturning the Supreme Court’s District of Columbia v. Heller decision would have been the crowning achievement of a Clinton presidency.
Clinton’s comment at a New York fundraiser that “the Supreme Court got it wrong on the Second Amendment” left no doubt that she intended to replace the late Antonin Scalia with a liberal jurist—one who would eventually team with the four dissenters to overturn Heller at the first opportunity.
Trump’s victory almost certainly ensures the survival of the Heller decision well into the future, as he has promised to nominate justices that will protect gun rights. For millions of gun owners, saving Heller alone was reason enough to vote.
Yet our opponents are desperate to make the Supreme Court’s Heller decision inaccessible, unaffordable and impossible to experience for the average American citizen.
Despite continued legal setbacks, the D.C. City Council has crafted a bureaucratic web of regulations that lower courts have upheld as “reasonable restrictions.”
Across the country the pattern is repeated over and over: Local elected officials, career bureaucrats, hired-gun lawyers and some chiefs of police with political ambitions conspire to subvert the intent of Heller and, through taxation, confusion and intimidation, effectively bar citizens from the meaningful exercise of their gun rights. As a result, your Second Amendment protections only exist if your local government allows them to.
For example, the state of New Jersey is so hostile to gun rights that its law enforcement actively searches for unwitting citizens exercising rights, whom they proudly detain. Simple transport of a secured firearm is justification for imprisonment, even for one unwitting North Carolina man who had rushed to New Jersey to perform emergency storm-related utility repairs. His crime was informing police he had a handgun stowed in his truck. State officials were unmoved even after Carol Bowne was stabbed to death by her estranged boyfriend in her driveway—as her application to buy a gun for self-defense sat on the desk of local law enforcement long past the 30-day time period mandated for a response. Perhaps the most dangerous of freedom’s enemies are elitist billionaires like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, who have been backing state and local elections with hundreds of millions of dollars from their personal fortunes.
Bans in Chicago and its suburbs on the sale, possession and carry of firearms have all been ruled unconstitutional; however, their city councils have enacted such a punishing series of fees, requirements, waiting periods, licenses and gun-free zones—for which no citizen ever voted—that de facto bans on them still exist. (In fact, there aren’t even any gun shops within city limits.) Incredibly, it wasn’t enough for these local governments to bar their citizens from the lawful exercise of rights, they have also sued outlying communities for not doing the same.
Seattle might soon share the dubious distinction of having no gun stores within city limits. Not only did the city initiate a $25 per firearm tax on all guns sold within city limits, it also passed up to a 5-cent-per-round tax on ammunition. Seattle’s ordinance is in contradiction with state law, but was upheld in King County Superior Court (NRA has appealed). Tax proceeds are earmarked for the study of “gun violence,” but the net effect to the city will be a loss of existing tax revenue. One can only conclude that the purpose is to completely eliminate gun sales in the city.
The city of San Francisco finally succeeded in forcing its last remaining gun store to close in 2015. The city’s enmity eventually wore down the owners, who closed rather than be required to videotape lawful customers. The author of the legislation expressed no remorse.
And then there’s the state of California, which is engaged in a breakaway sprint to be the nation’s largest gun-free zone. The state now bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition, criminalizes the failure to report stolen firearms in a timely manner and, most egregiously, mandates background checks and licenses for all sales and purchases of ammunition over 50 rounds. Residents who purchase ammunition out of state are barred from bringing it home with them. The state is even implementing restrictions on the mere display of ammunition, and a registration regime for ammunition sales is coming. The imposition of such unprecedented measures foretells a real struggle for gun rights in the Golden State.
Local authorities intent on grinding down gun rights have plenty of help. For example, should their outrageous restrictions be challenged in court, they will likely find support from some of the 300-plus judicial appointees President Barack Obama placed in the lower federal courts over the eight years of his administration. Even if President Trump were to erase all of Obama’s executive orders and regulations before he’s finished filling out his change-of-address cards, those judges will serve for life.
Perhaps the most dangerous of freedom’s enemies are elitist billionaires like George Soros and Michael Bloomberg, who have been backing state and local elections with hundreds of millions of dollars from their personal fortunes (Bloomberg spent $65 million in 2016 alone). They impose themselves in places like Nevada, Washington and Maine to promote confusing ballot initiatives intended to mislead voters into giving up rights in the name of public safety. These superempowered individuals possess nearly unlimited resources to chisel away at freedoms until they are either eliminated or unrecognizable.
Another significant force arrayed against gun rights is the egotistical influence of self-righteous entertainers and celebrities, whose tweets, snaps, selfies, Internet videos and free concerts didn’t, in the end, carry the day, but whose effects on impressionable young followers will only be measured over decades. Some of them even threatened to leave the country should Trump win, apparently believing that a horrified fan base would rush to vote for Clinton just to retain their proximity. Although they ultimately failed, these hypocrites wield great influence over the minds of followers who are too callow to risk being uncool.
Then, of course, there is the media. On the evening of Trump’s stunning victory, shell-shocked pundits asked themselves how they could have gotten it so wrong—that is, until Wednesday morning, when they began asking how we could have gotten it so wrong. They blamed Clinton’s defeat on the votes of “non-college-educated whites,” an obvious euphemism for “ignorant rednecks.” In a continuance of Hillary’s ill-advised “basket of deplorables” line, they painted Trump supporters as racists, xenophobes and misogynists. If there was any hope that the Trump shocker would cause the mainstream media to reexamine their own bias, it was gone by week’s end.
The media’s most hypocritical move was in repeating Hillary’s gun-control propaganda, and that of her donors and supporters, without question for the entire length of her campaign—and then hardly mentioning the role NRA and gun owners played in bringing about her downfall. It was further proof that if the facts don’t fit the media’s narratives, they simply find new facts. Now is the time. Elections are a starter pistol, not a finish line. Now that sides have been chosen, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and consolidate victories for freedom.
Now is the time. Elections are a starter pistol, not a finish line. Now that sides have been chosen, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and consolidate victories for freedom.
Now is the time to finally achieve national Right-to-Carry reciprocity; to end gun-free zones on military bases; to enact pre-emption laws that will stop the erosion of gun rights by tyrannical state and local governments. It must become illegal for bureaucratic elites to deny Americans the full measure of Second Amendment-protected freedoms.
The clock is already running down. Trump has but two years before the 2018 midterm elections. Pro-gun lawmakers hold a narrow two-seat advantage in the U.S. Senate—a precarious margin that could disappear in those elections. The last time pro-gun forces controlled both the executive and legislative branches was in 2006; how long before this opportunity comes around again?
Winning gun rights in D.C. clearly means nothing to local authorities who shamelessly flout the will of the Supreme Court at every turn. Gun owners cannot allow a false sense of security to set in, as a very dangerous future awaits if we don’t confront this continued erosion of gun rights now, before the opportunity to do so passes forever. Every gun owner needs to stay strong: Show your commitment by joining the NRA, renewing your membership, or even taking it to the next level.
Gun owners made history on Nov. 8. It would be tragic to now let firearm freedoms be tossed upon history’s ash heap by the devious forces who refuse to accept our hard-won victory.
Our Time Is Now
This is our historic moment to go on the offensive—to restore the full measure of freedom throughout our nation: passing Right-to-Carry reciprocity, ending state and local firearms and ammunition bans, ending gun-free zones on military bases and ensuring our right to self-defense once and for all. These goals and more are now possible and within our reach. Our time is now. Join, renew or upgrade your NRA membership today to play a part in claiming and perpetuating our hard-fought election victory.