October 21, 2020
Every four years you hear people talking about this being the “most important election ever,” or some such. I don’t actually buy that; every election is important. I will grant that this one has a distinctly different feel to it, and one (only one) of the reasons I think this is so is because it’s been a while since gun ownership has been a visible talking point among the candidates.
I am not someone who believes a particular party is inherently “good” or “bad,” and I cast my votes based on a candidate’s views and how those views align with mine. In the case of incumbents, my decisions are based on how his or her past performance has matched up with his or her promises and whether I agreed with those promises in the first place.
This year there’s a stark difference in party platforms. On the Democratic side, they have adopted far more specific points regarding private gun ownership than I’ve seen before. The party wants to end online gun and ammunition sales, bring back the “assault weapons” ban, ban high capacity magazines and “incentivize” states to require a license to own a firearm. And the party continues to support stripping the laws that protect gun companies from lawsuits brought against them due to the illegal misuse of their products. There’s more, and you can find the party platform on democrats.org. The firearms section is on page 47 of the platform.
The top of the Democratic ticket takes it a step further, calling for current owners of whatever they define as “assault weapons” to be regulated under the National Firearms Act—like the owners of machine guns, short-barreled rifles and other such guns currently are. He also supports restricting you to being able to buy one gun a month. You can read more at joebiden.com.
By contrast, the Republican Party makes defense of the Second Amendment part of its platform—supporting constitutional carry, national carry reciprocity and the laws that protect gun manufacturers. It opposes banning what it calls “the most popular and common rifle” (the AR-15) or restricting magazine capacities. There’s more, and you can read it at gop.com. It begins on page 12 of the platform.
Yes, there are other political parties, but at least on the presidential level those are the only two parties that matter. I could go through all these issues raised by the major parties point by point, but if you’ve been part of the gun community for any length of time you know the arguments by heart. If not, well, welcome aboard. For you I’ll just hit a couple of high points.
- One person’s “assault rifle” is another’s most cherished firearm that’s used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense.
- What constitutes an “assault rifle” very much depends on who is doing the defining, and anti-gun politicians are notoriously ignorant about firearms basics. Semiautos most of us would think of as decidedly non-military are easily (and often) included in bans.
- What some view as a “high capacity” magazine is standard capacity to a lot of others.
- Attempting to license our Second Amendment rights means you’re trying to convert them into government-sanctioned privileges that can be strictly controlled or revoked.
In general election years, many people concentrate only on the presidential election, but what happens in the House, Senate, state and local races can be even more important. The party in control calls the shots—from what laws get passed to what Supreme Court justices get appointed—and if you’re not up to speed on these candidates’ positions, there’s still time to go to their websites and learn what those positions are. And again, state and local races are critical, too. For the most part, states still are in the driver’s seat when it comes to what restrictions, if any, are placed on gun ownership, and so are local entities depending on where you live.
My purpose in all of this is not to tell you who to vote for. You’ll make up your own mind. I just wanted to remind you there’s a lot at stake in this election, as there always is, and if gun rights are important to you, be sure to identify the candidates who align with your views by doing your research. If you haven’t registered to vote, depending on where you live there’s still time to do so—and urge all your friends to do the same.
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National Shooting Sports Foundation aims to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of thousands of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers nationwide.