Gun Laws & Legislation

The Candidates On Guns: Who Backs Your Gun Rights? Who Scapegoats Them?

Your gun rights are at stake in the 2016 election. That statement may take you aback – particularly after the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Heller and McDonald cases – but those cases are hanging by a one-vote margin. The next President will take office to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia, Steven Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy all over the age of 75. That could tilt the balance of the court decisively in favor of protecting Second Amendment rights, or letting gun-grabbers run roughshod over them.

The President of the United States nominates Supreme Court justices, and the White House is now the mother of all open seats, thanks to the provisions of the 22nd Amendment. On the Republican side, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina are still in the race as of this writing.

I have followed Second Amendment issues in one form or another on a professional basis for nearly two decades. So, I have seen folks who I thought were strongly Second Amendment turn out to have the spine of a jellyfish, and I have seen folks evolve from an anti-gun position to a more Second Amendment friendly position. I have also learned that sometimes, tactics and strategy matter in protecting our Second Amendment rights.

So, based on that experience, what should pro-gun voters look for? The best thing, in my experience, has been a track record. Those of Chris Christie and Josh Kasich are somewhat checkered. Christie’s been governor of New Jersey, which seems to compete for the worst gun restrictions in the country on an annual basis. While he pardoned Shaneen Allen, a Pennsylvania woman who was caught up in the Garden State’s irrational gun laws, he has proven unable to address the laws that created that situation in the first place. Kasich has a bigger problem. In 1994, he voted for the semi-auto ban. Bill Clinton even sent him a thank-you letter for that vote. In 1996, he voted against an effort to repeal the ban.

What of Donald Trump and Ben Carson, two outsiders? In 2000, Trump came out in support of the semi-auto ban Bill Clinton pushed through in 1994. Carson indicated support for a semi-auto ban in 2013.

Ironically, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, often perceived as the more moderate candidates, have strong records in support of the Second Amendment. As governor of Florida, Jeb signed a number of bills that improved matters for law-abiding gun owners, including the first “Stand Your Ground” law in the country. Fiorina has never served in office, but her statements over the years have been far stronger, criticizing semi-auto bans, and earned an AQ rating from the NRA. The AQ rating is the highest grade a political newcomer can receive.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have very strong records as well. As Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz was among those who filed briefs in support of overturning Washington, DC’s gun ban. Cruz also has voted against gun control measures in the Senate. Rubio earned a B+ rating from the NRA in 2010, but he has a solid voting record during his time as a U.S. Senator, and holds a concealed carry permit.

The less said about Hillary and Bernie, the better. Suffice it to say that they are very hostile to your Second Amendment rights – and the same will go for their Supreme Court nominees. So, cast your votes and keep that in mind.