Let me be very clear: Ted Cruz was not my first, second, or even third choice to be the Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential election. I was hoping that a proven governor with a solid track record of leadership and economic growth and a sterling record of support for gun rights would survive the primaries, and unfortunately, that simply did not pan out.
We’re now left with three candidates*: businessman/reality television star Donald Trump, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Ted Cruz.
As the editor of Bearing Arms and the primary administrator of the 2nd Amendment Supporters Facebook page, I am necessarily driven to examine the track records and claims of the these three viable candidates before we get any further into the race, and note how the nomination of these three men could impact the core natural right of self defense for 320 million American citizens.
Donald Trump has successfully captured the hearts of many Americans who are sick to death of “politics as usual.” Mr. Trump’s bombastic style has earned him a dedicated fan base, and his current rhetoric on the Second Amendment is second to none. He brags of being a concealed carry permit holder and a Life Member of the NRA.
It is true that Mr. Trump has a concealed carry permit issued in New York City. Unfortunately, concealed carry permits in NYC are a badge of the worst sort of political cronyism, awarded exclusively to the powerful and connected. Nothing in Mr. Trump’s record shows that he has expressed even a moderate interest in combating the corrupt “may issue” permitting system of NYC. He’s clearly interested in protecting himself, but not so much the self-defense rights of his fellow New Yorkers. In this regard, he’s only mildly less repellent that fellow wealthy New Yorker Michael Bloomberg, who has a phalanx of armed guards carrying guns for him.
When it comes to Mr. Trump’s NRA Life Membership, his supporters routinely miscast it as if it is a lifetime membership, one that he has hand for many, many years. In fact a “Life Membership” is the simple one-time act of purchasing $1,000 membership. While I thank Mr. Trump for his support of the National Rifle Association, I find myself wondering when he decided to support the organization, and why (Mr. Trump is unrated by the NRA, because he has no voting record to rank).
Mr. Trump does not like hunting, but he has defended his two sons that are hunters. It’s not the full-throated defense you would hope for in a Second Amendment candidate, but it is better than nothing.
Where Trump falters, and falters badly, is in his weathervane views on not just the Second Amendment, but on seemingly every issue, and even in his party affiliation, which he’s changed five times since the mid 1980s.
Mr. Trump has adopted the stance of a Second Amendment absolutist since he dedicated himself to running for office, but he has supported bans on AR-15s and other common firearms in the past with his self-professed support of so-called “assault weapon” bans. Mr. Trump has likewise favored waiting periods.
He is not a “gun guy.” While he has mentioned his concealed carry permit, no one seems to have ever seen Mr. Trump fire the guns he claims to own, and an image search of “Donald Trump shooting” isn’t going to return images of the on-again-off-again candidate actually shooting a gun.
Like Senator Rubio, Trump holds firearms while campaigning… and that seems to be about it.
Mr. Trump routinely notes that he donates money to both parties in exchange for political favors that benefit him, and it is this sort of self-absorbed, non-principled stance that should terrify gun owners about a Trump Presidency.
If there is a single defining characteristic about Donald Trump, it is that he does not seem to have any principled views that he wouldn’t be willing to trade for personal advantage. He is constantly chasing the “art of the deal,” is defined by his willingness to compromise.
In the event of a significant challenge to the Second Amendment, there is nothing in Donald Trump’s background that suggest he wouldn’t immediately compromise the right to bear arms, falling back to his previously held positions that it is perfectly acceptable to ban those firearms most suitable for the original intent of the Second Amendment.
Put in the bluntest possible terms, Mr. Trump, the party-hopping crony capitalist and compromise artist, simply cannot be trusted to defend the right to bear arms.
If that wasn’t bad enough on it’s own, there is then the reality that while Trump’s bombastic style has earned him a steady following, it has turned away a much larger group of votes.
Trump is easily defeated by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in head to head matchups. He’s the least trustworthy Second Amendment candidate on the Republican side, and all but ensures that the radically anti-gun Hillary Clinton will win the the 2016 Presidential Election, plunging us into a new Dark Age for gun rights on the federal level, where a radically anti-gun Clinton will veto every pro-gun bill that comes to her desk.
A vote for Trump is a vote ensuring a landslide victory for Hillary Clinton.
That’s entirely unacceptable, and something that no real guns rights supporter should tolerate.
*With all due respect, John Kasich is not running for President, but for Vice President.