No, Gun Control Isn't Dead

I’ve been seeing quite a bit of this argument lately; the surge in gun sales, spike in violent crime, and general societal unrest have spelled the end for the gun control movement. J.D. Tuccille at Reason says that 2020 is “the year that gun control died,” while Townhall’s Daniel Mitchell framed the argument in the form of a question: is gun control dead?

While I’d love to believe that the record-high numbers of new gun owners and surging sales of firearms and ammunition have immunized us against the plague of gun control, it’s unfortunately not the case. In fact, the gun control movement has big plans for 2020. Not only are gun control orgs backing Joe Biden for president, groups like the billionaire-funded Everytown for Gun Safety are spending tens of millions of dollars to flip state legislatures in places like Iowa, Texas, and North Carolina. They’ve got unlimited resources and what they believe is a winning strategy: concentrate their efforts on suburban women voters with messaging about keeping their kids safe through “commonsense gun safety” measures.

Everytown thinks that messaging is what allowed Democrats to take control of the statehouse in Virginia for the first time since the 1990s last November, and they’ll be trying to replicate their success on a grand scale this November.

At American Greatness, Adam Mill argues that Americans simply won’t tolerate any of this gun control nonsense.

Americans don’t feel safe. Paternalistic, privileged white liberals are terrifying middle and lower-income communities with calls to defund the police. There’s simply no way Americans will tolerate being disarmed in the face of soaring violent crime, riots, and neutered police force. When faced with a mob of arsonists and looters, the AR-15 with a standard capacity magazine is the appropriate tool to protect people and property.

This year has reminded us that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. Gun control is dead.

Mill’s pretty ambiguous about whether he’s talking about Americans rejecting gun control at the ballot box, or if he’s suggesting that Americans won’t comply with any new gun control laws. If we’re talking about elections, I think that Mill’s a little too optimistic, but if we’re talking about compliance, he’s more on target.

The record number of gun sales and huge influx of new gun owners absolutely could be a difference-maker in the November elections, but only if these new gun owners actually vote to protect their Second Amendment rights. Most of these new gun owners aren’t going to be single-issue voters, and even among those who are, not all of them will pick the Second Amendment as their single issue. Part of our job as Second Amendment advocates is to encourage these folks to keep their gun rights in mind when they step into the voting booth, and that’s going to be harder to do if they’re worried about how they’re going to find a job or pay their mortgage.

We also have to remember that even though we’ll likely see 4-million or so new gun owners this year, a majority of American adults are still non-gun owners. Most of them simply don’t see the gun control issue in the way that gun owners do. It’s hard to see gun control as a burden on the law-abiding when you yourself aren’t burdened at all. Instinctively, gun control probably sounds like a good idea to someone who believes that guns are icky, or at least more trouble than they’re worth.

So, gun control has a natural base of support, and even as some Americans look at the rising crime rate in places like New York City and think “I’m going to get a gun,” there are those who see the same news stories and say to themselves, “We need to ban guns.” If they succeed in putting Joe Biden in the White House and giving Democrats control of the Senate to go along with the House, we’ll see an onslaught of anti-gun legislation that makes the Gun Control Act of 1968 look downright pro-Second Amendment in comparison; Gun licensing and registration laws, red flag laws, a ban and “buyback” of so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines (unless you’re willing to pay an extra tax and register them with the government) and more. Not only is gun control not dead, gun owners face the biggest threat to the Second Amendment in American history this November.

When it comes to compliance and enforcement, however, the prospects of gun control look decidedly dimmer. We already know that violent criminals won’t be registering their guns with the government, but there’s plenty of evidence from places like New York that otherwise legal gun owners won’t comply either. We’ve already seen the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement take hold in several states, and if Biden were to enact his gun control agenda, you’d see thousands of counties around the country declare that none of their law-enforcement dollars were going to be spent enforcing new federal (or state) gun control laws.

In addition, the deep-blue cities that until recently would have been the most likely places to strictly enforce new gun control laws are now entrenched in the mindset that the existing criminal justice system is inherently flawed and riddled with systemic racism. In order to stay in the Left’s good graces, gun control advocates have been left to incoherently demand more new laws and less policing, which in itself invites noncompliance.

Gun control isn’t dead, and the gun control movement is stronger than ever, from a financial standpoint anyway. The Second Amendment isn’t dead either, however, and I’m hoping we’ll turn out in force on Election Day to beat back the prospect of these unconstitutional attacks on our Second Amendment rights, no matter how unenforceable they might turn out to be.