From the Wall Street Journal:
Going to Extremes Against Guns
Threatening to take voters’ firearms away isn’t the way to
beat Donald Trump.
By Kimberley A. Strassel
The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 8, 2019 6:06 pm ET
Democrats insist there’s no more urgent job than ensuring Donald Trump is a one-term
president. Which is odd, given how hard they are simultaneously working to alienate the
voters they most need to make that happen. See this week’s debate on gun control.
The weekend’s shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, inspired the entire
liberal-media complex to chant “gun control,” reflexively and predictably. A favorite
demand is to expand background checks—never mind that these mass shooters, and
those of recent years, bought their guns legally and therefore passed such checks.
Another is an “assault weapons” ban—never mind that “assault” weapons function in
the same way as tens of millions of other semi-automatic rifles that would remain in
But the Democratic presidential candidates went further. It is not enough, they insisted,
to expand background checks or limit types of firearms going forward. What is needed
is to take guns away and to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to own them.
They at least get credit for being more honest about the left’s gun intentions.
Texas’ former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said he is now “open” to a “mandatory” government
gun-buying program—a polite way to describe confiscation of entire classes of firearms.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker highlighted his plan to require every American to obtain a
federal “license” to purchase a firearm. Responsible gun owners would have to submit
fingerprints, pass an interview, and take safety courses to obtain even a .22-caliber long
rifle. And they’d have to repeat the process every five years.
California Sen. Kamala Harris has vowed to ignore Congress and impose gun
regulations via executive action. She’d ban certain firearm imports and sue gun
manufacturers for “negligence,” among other things. As for former Vice President Joe
Biden, CNN asked him if gun owners should worry that a Biden administration “is going
to come for my guns.” He answered: “Bingo. You’re right if you have an assault weapon.
The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period.”
The media is cheering all this on, as well as highlighting polls that claim majorities of
Americans support this or that gun-control proposal. But polls are quick snapshots of
tiny pools of Americans, often answering vaguely worded policy questions. This is a
shoddy, and politically dangerous, way of measuring attitudes on a subject voters take
Especially for Democrats, who spent much of 2017 lamenting their failure to connect
with white working-class Americans, many of whom live in rural areas. These are the
coal and oil workers they are now promising to put out of jobs with their climate plans;
the union members and housewives they label as “white supremacists.” And they are
gun owners who, unlike most journalists, deeply understand firearms and view these
proposals as a threat.
The Pew Research Center’s 2017 study of the “demographics of gun ownership” found
that 42% of American adults live in a household with a firearm. Some 58% of rural
Americans live in a gun household, as do 48% of independents and 41% of
suburbanites. Forty-eight percent of white men personally own a gun. A quarter of self-
identified Democrats live in a gun household—many in those rural and suburban areas
of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Hillary Clinton lost and the
Democratic nominee will desperately need to win in 2020.
Just as striking are gun owners’ attitudes about their Second Amendment rights. Nearly
three-quarters of the Americans who currently own a gun say they “can’t see
themselves ever not owning one.” Pew reports that “for today’s gun owners, the right to
own guns nearly rivals other rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution”—including “freedom
of speech, the right to vote, the right to privacy, and freedom of religion.” It notes that
“about three-quarters of gun owners (74%) say this right is essential to their own sense
Presumably none of the Democratic candidates is foolhardy enough to call for bans on
voting or going to church. Yet millions of Americans—including independents and
Democrats—will see their gun-ban and licensing proposals as the equivalent. This isn’t
your usual debate over tax rates or health-care providers; these proposals are deal
breakers. That Democrats don’t realize this is a function of a striking party and media
insularity from “flyover” America.
Mass shootings are a terrible problem, but they won’t be solved with gun regulation.
And no competitive politician will be rewarded for offending law-abiding gun owners—
and the Constitution—with radical proposals that won’t achieve their objectives.
Democrats write off gun-owning America at their peril.
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