A version of the following column appears in the Dec. 10 edition of the magazine Firearms News (formerly “Shotgun News,”) on newsstands and in mailboxes now.
The best news for gun rights in 2016 was, unquestionably, the election of President Donald Trump.
As detailed in previous columns, Trump, who has his own concealed-carry permit, took a strong pro-gun-rights stance in the campaign, and appears likely to pursue his sensible proposal that concealed-carry permits should be automatically recognized across state lines, the same way a Maryland driver’s license is honored in Texas or Montana.
(The devil’s in the details, of course. Those who hate armed and safe citizens — the “rape enablers” — can be counted on to respond by insisting on “tougher, nationally mandated standards” for permits, shrieking that otherwise anti-gun states will somehow be “endangered“ by armed travelers from states with “weak permit rules.” Will travelers from Arizona, Alaska, Wyoming and Kansas, who can carry without a permit in their own, armed and very peaceful states, find that right respected in the 45 states that lag behind in acknowledging this constitutionally protected right? And especially what about Vermonters, so accustomed to their right to carry concealed that there isn’t any known way for them to obtain a “Vermont carry permit” to show when they travel across the line into Massachusetts or New York — since such a document doesn’t exist? Time will tell.)
In the real world of politics, a Trump administration may compromise on some of candidate Trump’s goals, and fail to accomplish others.
But surely we’re better off by miles than we would have been under the neurologically frail Hillary Clinton, already under investigation at the time of her nomination for collecting millions in pay-to-play moneys thinly disguised as “donations to her non-profit charitable foundation” while Secretary of State — the woman who left four Americans to die in Benghazi in hopes no one would find out she sent them there to sell captured Libyan arms to the Islamic terrorists of ISIS, . . . who vowed repeatedly and at length (especially in response to a “planted” question at a New Hampshire “town hall” campaign forum in October, 2015) that she’d like to try the “Australian solution” -– seizing and destroying every semi-automatic long gun in the country under the guise of a “buy-back,” with prison sentences promised for anyone who declined to accept the government “offer.”
(Hillary explains in detail how she wants to seize and destroy our guns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpY0rItDqzM .)
(Of course, with only law-abiding crime victims disarmed, Australia’s crime problems promptly got worse. See http://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=3626 .)
Even more significant, Hillary Clinton had vowed to appoint Supreme Court judges who would overrule the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which merely (and belatedly) acknowledged the plain English meaning of the Second Amendment — that each American has an individual, constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms of “militia” usefulness, including for self-defense.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence, on the other hand, are expected to appoint justices with more respect for the letter of the law -– justices who will presumably serve long beyond the end of this presidential administration.
THREE DISCOURAGING BALLOT MEASURES . . .
On a state-by-state basis, however, there were some steps backward on Nov. 8 which will eventually have to be remedied either by state legislatures or by the courts, demonstrating in a couple of cases precisely why the Electoral College (attacked by liberals only when they lose) is such a wise safeguard at the national level, as heavily populated leftist enclaves in California and Nevada outvoted their wiser, rural brethren in attempts to make the normal commerce in arms more cumbersome and legally dangerous.
Those voters approved ballot initiatives pushed to the tune of millions of dollars by hoplophobe former Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, measures designed in hopes of tripping up and sending to prison any number of innocent gun owners for violating arcane and absurd new “rules.”
For instance, Under California’s Proposition 63, the possession of normal-sized magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds will be outlawed in California, according to PJ Media. The ballot proposal also requires cumbersome background checks for anyone buying bullets (which I presume includes cartridges), makes it a crime to not report lost or stolen guns, and provides new methods for police to take guns away from those convicted of felonies (though most violent criminals already have their firearms seized at the time of arrest, of course.)
“Prop. 63 is another attempt by (Lt. Gov. Gavin) Newsom and his one-percent, elitist friends to attack law-abiding Californians,” said Craig DeLuz, a spokesman for the Stop Prop 63 Committee. “They want to replace the ‘War on Drugs’ with ‘the war on law-abiding gun owners’ so they can continue locking up young black and Latino men.”
Predictably, the coastal cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco outvoted opponents in more rural central and northern California to ram Prop 63 into law in California by a whopping 63-to-37-percent margin
The simultaneous California vote to legalize marijuana this year was both closer and less geographically polarized, voters statewide OK’ing that measure 56-44.
Well known for their electoral weirdness, California voters this year also increased cigarette taxes, voted to keep income taxes as high as possible, repealed their English-only education requirement (guaranteeing students of illegal immigrants will find it much harder to find jobs in America), and banned “sugary drinks” and soda pop in Oakland and San Francisco.
Nevada voters also approved a misleading gun-transfer background-check ballot proposal pushed by Mayor Bloomberg to the tune of many millions of dollars, though here in Nevada the geographic disparity was even more glaring, with the measure defeated in every Nevada county except Clark County/Las Vegas, finally winning by only 10,000 votes statewide due to the huge concentration of imported far-left voters there in Las Vegas, where the only “proof of ID” required to vote is a casino employment card, and Spanish-speaking illegal alien maids and busboys are literally bused to the polls en masse by their Democratic unions — see http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/oct/29/unions-flex-muscle-in-nevadas-high-stakes-senate-r/ .
(In Nevada, the “go-to-jail-if-you-loan-your-girlfriend-or-your-hunting-buddy-a-gun” measure finally won by the narrow margin of 558,586 to 548,685.)
Nevadans, meantime, also echoed Californians by legalizing marijuana 55-45 on the same Election Day, showing urban residents of the Western states -– most of whom came here from somewhere else -– are in favor of restoring some civil rights, while preferring to infringe others.
Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn was a late changer on the Nevada “universal background-check” initiative. He’d initially been listed as a supporter, but said he later realized the measure would absurdly make criminals of a soldier departing for overseas if he left a firearm with his fiancee, without both of them hieing themselves down to a licensed gun store to pay for a “background check” both upon his departure and upon his return.
“The principal goal of Question 1 is to make legal gun ownership more onerous, burdensome and expensive for Nevada’s law-abiding citizens,” wrote Jim Wheeler, majority whip of the Nevada State Assembly, in a column in the Nevada Appeal. “Failure to abide by all the new government rules and mandates could land you in jail and facing hefty fines. . . . Remember, gun control is not about guns. It’s about control.”
(I wrote on the Silver State proposal – opposed by Nevada’s governor, her attorney general, and most of her county sheriffs — at length back in September. See http://www.vinsuprynowicz.com/?p=3566 .)
. . . AND THE LONE VICTORY
Maine voters, some of whom showed up at the polls dressed in camouflage to vote against Question 3, defeated essentially the same Bloomberg-funded proposal on their ballots by a slim margin, 51 percent to 48.9 percent. While the margin was a mere 2,600 votes (so close that there may be a recount), a look at the town-by-town map shows almost the entire rural state swathed in “red” for “No,” with the main support coming in the college town of Orono and in the thin, populous belt along the southern coast — Portland, Kennebunkport, and Bar Harbor.
As in Nevada, Maine’s Question 3 would have required background checks for all private gun transfers, including loans and gifts, even a pair of hunters borrowing each other’s guns in the field.
“This is a great night for the people of Maine. With their freedoms in question and liberties at stake, they embraced the rights recognized in our Constitution and said no to the poorly written, unenforceable mandates of the Question 3 ballot initiative,” said NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox.
Maine residents voted by a similarly slim margin to OK recreational use of marijuana, but then unfortunately guaranteed they’ll continue to wallow in the economic doldrums by both increasing their state income tax (but only on “the rich”!) and raising the minimum wage, which outlaws low-paying entry-level jobs for teen-agers. (Like California, Nevada, and Washington, it’s a Hillary state.)
Washington state voters, meanwhile, overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1491, a measure that will allow judges to temporarily take guns away from people deemed to be “a threat,” 71-to-29. (Opponents warned Initiative 1491 could be abused by ex-partners or spouses who want to make trouble for an ex.)
Campaign finance data tracked by Ballotpedia shows Bloomberg’s so-called “Everyone for Gun Safety” spent more than $5.2 million in Maine and invested more than $13 million in Nevada -– more than $23 per vote obtained — to push the background-check proposals.
Groups backing Proposition 63 in California invested more than $4.5 million to convince voters of the wisdom of making self-defense more difficult and costly there -– but only for the law-abiding, of course.
Local opponents of the measures in the smaller states, meantime, struggled to raise $100,000 each.
“How could the NRA lose three of four contests?” PJ Media asks. “The leading gun-rights organization spent most of its time and money backing Donald Trump.”
Dave Workman, who writes for the Second Amendment Foundation, said the NRA’s plan might have been to fight the successful gun-control ballot proposals in the courts of law rather than the court of public opinion. But he also admitted the NRA is facing a new reality when it takes on Everytown for Gun Safety and its billionaire founder, Michael Bloomberg.
“I think the gun-control people have suddenly discovered that they’ve got a weapon,” Workman told National Public Radio. “And that weapon is money.”