On Tuesday, voters in Kentucky will head to the polls to cast their votes in the state’s primary elections, and one of the most closely watched races is the Democrat primary for U.S. Senate. The winner of the primary gets to take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, and until very recently, retired Lt. Col. Amy McGrath was considered a shoo-in. Over the past several weeks, however, State Representative Charles Booker has seen a surge in support, and could pull off an upset this week.
While both candidates claim to support the Second Amendment, neither one seems actually interested in doing anything to protect it. In fact, both McGrath and Booker are eager to talk about what new gun laws they’d like to put in place while paying lip service to our right to keep and bear arms.
Here’s how McGrath is spinning her position on the Second Amendment.
“I am a gun owner, I’m somebody who has been a United States Marine for 20 years, I’ve shot just about every weapon you can think of at least once,” McGrath said when asked about guns. She continued,” I’m a gun owner, I don’t want yours I’ve got my own.” She said she supports the second amendment and the right to own guns. “I’m for better background checks…we want to make sure bad people don’t get their hands on these weapons,” she stated, “the rest of us who are good, we don’t want our right getting infringed.”
Last year, McGrath said that she’s not in favor of a ban on so-called assault weapons, which is good. Unfortunately, she’s also received backing from gun control groups that are pushing for a ban, and when she does talk about the Second Amendment, she sounds like she has far more in common with Michael Bloomberg than the average Kentucky gun owner.
This epidemic of gun violence is only going to be addressed by fundamentally changing our government—electing people who can’t be bought off by the gun lobby. Mitch McConnell will never meaningfully address this crisis, even though there are measures many gun owners support.
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) August 4, 2019
How exactly are universal background checks “meaningful”? I doubt McGrath could even explain how requiring background checks on private gun transfers would be enforced by the federal government, much less why she believes that criminals would pay any attention to the law.
Booker, meanwhile, is a little more upfront about his support for gun control laws, though he’s still careful to couch it in terms of backing the Second Amendment as well.
Booker says he respects that firearms are “sacred” for many Kentuckians. “I know for a fact the majority of Kentuckians are not looking at their firearm as a way to hurt anybody,” he said. He added that protecting our rights and keeping our families safe are not contrary to one another. “Being able to stand up for common sense gun safety is our way of saying we respect the second amendment, we respect Kentuckians rights by making sure they’re not being taken advantage of for political expedience,” Booker stated, adding he’s sided with law enforcement on gun legislation such as permitless concealed carry. Having lost five family members to gun violence, Booker supports universal background checks and would support funding the CDC to research gun violence.
Booker sponsored HB 45 in the Kentucky legislature this year, which, among other things, would have required the licensing and registration of all handguns and firearms defined as “assault weapons,” as well as mandating the “the logging of firearms and ammunition sales.” The bill also defined a “large capacity magazine” as one that can accept more than seven rounds of ammunition, which would have been a more draconian definition than what’s on the books in places like California or New Jersey. For someone who says that he respects the Second Amendment, Booker sure does seem interested in criminalizing commonly owned arms and accessories, which in turn would lead to a lot of people (many of them young black men) facing felony charges for simply continuing to possess their legally-owned firearms without registering them with the State.
In other words, while both McGrath and Booker say they support the Second Amendment, they’ve only spoken up in support of restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms. It would have been nice if one reporter in Kentucky had asked a simple question of both candidates when they started posturing on the issue: If you support the Second Amendment, can you give me an example of a current gun control law that you believe infringes on the right to keep and bear arms?
I suspect the answer would involve a lot of “umms” and “uhhs” before finishing with a “let me get back to you on that.” Both McGrath and Booker know that Kentuckians support the Second Amendment, so they don’t want to antagonize the gun vote. At the same time, they can’t do more than offer lip service to the idea that they’ll protect the right to keep and bear arms. And of course, if either of them were to actually replace Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate, they’d quickly fall in line and march to the beat of party leaders intent on passing sweeping gun control legislation as soon as they have the power to do so.