The veneer has worn off. As Democratic candidates for president drift further and further left, it is clear that their end game on firearms includes unconstitutional infringements on the right to bear arms.
For years, gun control advocates carefully honed their message. They dismissed concerns that they want to create a registry or confiscate peoples’ weapons. They have even shifted their language from “gun control” to the much softer-sounding “gun safety.”
Recently, though, some presidential candidates have made their true intentions clear. California Sen. Kamala Harris vows to ban certain weapons via executive order. Numerous other presidential candidates support a national gun licensing scheme. Beto O’Rourke wants to pressure banks and credit card companies in order to dictate which weapons purchases they will process. Most recently, O’Rourke exclaimed, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.”
These proposals are on shaky constitutional ground, but power politics have taken the place of serious debate on the issues. When former Vice President Joe Biden correctly pointed out that there is “no constitutional authority” for Harris’ proposed executive order, she laughed at him. O’Rourke’s campaign is literally cashing in on his bad ideas, by selling T-shirts printed with his vow to “take” the most popular rifle in America from law abiding citizens.
Meanwhile, thoughtful Democrats who aren’t running for president are left to wonder how their party went so wrong. Delaware Sen. Chris Coons all but said so last week. Speaking to CNN, Coons made the political point that O’Rourke’s rhetoric is bad for Democrats and counterproductive to gun control efforts. “I frankly think that that clip will be played for years at Second Amendment rallies … saying that Democrats are coming for your guns,” he said.
Politics aside, though, Coons also recognized that these are bad policies. When asked whether he is in favor of O’Rourke’s plan, Coons said quite bluntly, “I am not.” Indeed, he predicted that these proposals would be rejected by both a majority of the Senate and a majority of the country.
Coons is right, of course. Beto O’Rourke can sell as many t-shirts as he wants, but it won’t change the fact that most voters do not support the confiscation of firearms. The candidates themselves know this. That is why they use such carefully-selected language — essentially marketing terms — designed to obfuscate their real goals. Just as gun control has become “gun safety,” O’Rourke now calls his confiscation plan a “mandatory buyback” program. Why use this terminology? Because he is rightly afraid that the majority of voters would not support these radical ideas, if we laid them bare and called them what they really are.
Call these proposals whatever you want. Voters won’t fall for semantic games. We the people care much more about the substance than the terminology. The substance of these policies is not a winning formula at the ballot box or in the courts. But don’t take my word for it: ask Joe Biden or Chris Coons.
Larry Obhof (@LarryObhof) is president of the Ohio Senate.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.