Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has released the Second Amendment plank of his platform, and it’s going to thrill most supporters of gun rights, while leaving gun control supporters either terrified or enraged.
Entitled, “Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make American Great Again,” the position paper hits the following key points (we’ve reordered them to keep like points together):
- Law-abiding citizens can help thwart crime by practicing concealed carry. “Here’s another important way to fight crime – empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Law enforcement is great, they do a tremendous job, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time. Our personal protection is ultimately up to us. That’s why I’m a gun owner, that’s why I have a concealed carry permit, and that’s why tens of millions of Americans have concealed carry permits as well. It’s just common sense. To make America great again, we’re going to go after criminals and put the law back on the side of the law-abiding.”
- There should be national concealed carry reciprocity. “The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”
- Carry for troops at military bases and recruiting centers. “Banning our military from carrying firearms on bases and at recruiting centers is ridiculous. We train our military how to safely and responsibly use firearms, but our current policies leave them defenseless. To make America great again, we need a strong military. To have a strong military, we need to allow them to defend themselves.”
- Increasing the quality of background checks, without expanding them. Trump notes that criminals don’t obtain their firearms from federal licensed dealers before stating, “When the system was created, gun owners were promised that it would be instant, accurate and fair. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case today. Too many states are failing to put criminal and mental health records into the system – and it should go without saying that a system’s only going to be as effective as the records that are put into it. What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.”
- Government should have no say in what sort of guns citizens may own. “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”
- Enforce the gun laws on the books. Prosecute violent offenders relentlessly. “We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals… We need to bring back and expand programs like Project Exile and get gang members and drug dealers off the street. When we do, crime will go down and our cities and communities will be safer places to live.”
- Fixing a broken mental health care system will reduce violent crime, including mass murders. “All of the tragic mass murders that occurred in the past several years have something in common – there were red flags that were ignored. We can’t allow that to continue. We need to expand treatment programs, because most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, they just need help. But for those who are violent, a danger to themselves or others, we need to get them off the street before they can terrorize our communities. This is just common sense.”
A few points of analysis:
- Carry on base is popular with citizens and many of our troops, but it terrifies people in charge of base security. The simple fact the matter is that there is no universal handgun training program in the United States military, and the limited MOS-specific training that does exist is not focused on concealed carry.
- His statement on gun and magazine bans is wide open for interpretation, but it appears it was probably intended to say that he’s against another “assault weapon” ban, backing away from his support of the 1994 “assault weapon” ban. But he further claims, “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.” Combined with the open paragraphs of this position paper, it sounds like a repudiation of all federal gun control laws. It would be a fascinating position if he indeed supports the idea that the Gun Control Act of 1968, the National Firearms Act of 1934, and other federal gun laws should be repealed.
- National reciprocity is going to a be very easy sell to most gun owners. It is going to give gun control supporters absolutely fix.
This is a very robust platform, issued from the current Republican frontrunner.
It’s going to be interesting to see what affect this position paper will have on the Second Amendment position papers of the other Republican candidates.
It’s also going to be interesting to see how the three decidedly anti-gun Democrat frontrunners—Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley—respond.