Last Friday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) expressed to the audience of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher that he hopes the Democratic Party come outs, not just in favor of more gun control, but against the Second Amendment itself. This is merely the latest episode of an elected official pulling back the curtain on the extreme contempt with which some politicians view the Second Amendment.
The exchange took place during a lengthy discussion on gun control between Maher and his three guests. After lamenting that the Democratic Party was not anti-gun enough, Maher asked Ellison, “Then why doesn’t your party come out against the Second Amendment? It’s the Problem.” Ellison responded by stating, “I sure wish they would. I sure wish they would.”
It’s unfortunate that Maher and Ellison perpetuate the inaccurate idea that members of one of the two major political parties have – or should be expected to have- a uniform view opposing gun rights and the Second Amendment. This is not the current reality, nor has it ever been the case. NRA continually works with and endorses elected officials on both sides of the aisle. Respect for the right to keep and bear arms is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it is an issue of individual liberty versus government control that garners support from a diverse group of Americans, independent of their political views on other topics.
Regardless of this, Ellison is right in that the politicians of his party who are in opposition to the Second Amendment should be forthright with the American public. However, if Ellison were aware of how profoundly unpopular such a stance would be, he might have second thoughts.
Even the most committed gun control advocates hide their contempt for the Second Amendment with highly orchestrated messaging campaigns; and for good reason. A January 30, 2014, Gallup poll reported that out of those asked, “Would you like to see gun laws in this country made more strict, less strict, or remain as they are?” only 31 percent opted for stricter gun laws. Further, when it comes to the Second Amendment itself, Americans are unambiguously in favor of the individual right to keep and bear arms. In a poll preceding the Supreme Court’s landmark Heller decision, Gallup asked, “Do you believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of Americans to own guns, or do you believe it only guarantees members of state militias such as the National Guard units the right to own guns?” Seventy-three percent of those polled endorsed the individual right interpretation.
With polls like these, gun owners should not expect any surge in the honesty of anti-gun politicians. Nevertheless, while we obviously disagree with the view Ellison expressed, we at least credit his candor. If only he would embolden his colleagues to join him in coming out of the shadows to openly embrace their opposition to the Second Amendment, America would have a much clearer picture of the reality that lurks behind the PR façade of “reasonable gun safety regulation.” The American people deserve to know the disdain with which some of their elected officials view their constitutional rights and the opportunity to take that information into account when exercising their rights at voting booths.