We can already predict what the main topics of discussion will be during the upcoming presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden; the chaos on our streets, the coronavirus, police reform, and racism will almost certainly dominate the debates that deal with domestic policy. I’ll make a prediction that gun control is also brought up during the first debate between the nominees, and I’ll even hazard a guess as to what aspect of gun control moderator Chris Wallace will focus on.
Back during the DNC, Wallace praised the pro-gun control speech by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, calling it “enormously powerful” and declaring that Giffords gave voice to the concerns that “most Americans have about gun violence.” To me, that already demonstrates that Wallace is going to approach the gun issue from a pro-Biden perspective, but that wasn’t all he said.
“I understand that Republicans will say that Joe Biden wants to take away your Second Amendment rights. The only problem with that is, Biden has made it clear over and over; he’s not interested in taking away Second Amendment rights, he’s interested in taking away weapons of mass destruction like assault weapons.”
I don’t think you have to Nostradamus to get the feeling that a ban on so-called assault weapons is something that Chris Wallace really wants to have as a debate topic. In fact, the only reason that Wallace wouldn’t ask a question about banning semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 is if he reasons that his past quotes in support of gun control would come up and be used as an example of media bias.
It’s possible that’s how it plays out, but I suspect that the desire to try to pin Trump down on banning “assault weapons” while allowing Joe Biden to wax rhapsodically about his plan to require existing gun owners to either pay hundreds of dollars to register their firearms or receive some token financial compensation to turn them in to the federal government.
I imagine the framing will be something like this:
“Mr. President, over the past four months we’ve seen a number of extremists on the left and the right, many of them armed to the teeth with assault weapons, take to the streets, either as vigilantes intent on protecting their communities or mixed in with the mostly peaceful protesters to provide cover as they try to cause trouble. One of your supporters is facing two counts of murder for shooting protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin with a semi-automatic rifle. Given that these weapons of mass destruction have been used in so many shootings over the past few years, tell me why you don’t support banning these battlefield weapons of war?”
Here’s what I’d tell Chris Wallace if I were President Trump.
First of all, Chris, let’s be clear. These aren’t battlefield weapons of war. They’re the most commonly sold rifle in the country, and millions of Americans own them for home defense, shooting competitions, or hunting. I don’t think you could ban them without violating the Second Amendment, but I wouldn’t ban them even if I could, and I’ll tell you why.
We can’t ban our way to safety. Joe Biden says in one breath that he wants to fundamentally transform policing, and in the next breath he says he wants to make it a federal felony offense punishable by ten years in prison for simply keeping ahold of the rifle that’s in your gun safe, unless of course you tell the federal government exactly what you own and you write them a check. Hand over a few hundred dollars and they swear they’ll let you keep your gun. Just like the Biden/Obama administration swore you’d get to keep your doctor. If you like your gun you can keep your gun, they say. You believe that?
The fact is, these guns are rarely used in crime. More people are killed by fists, feet, and blunt objects than someone with an AR-15. Banning them isn’t going to make anybody safer, but I’ll tell you what will.
Our crime rates were at or near 50 year lows before Democratic politicians began emptying out jails and telling officers not to make arrests for some crimes back in the spring. Since then the problem’s only gotten worse. A lot of Joe’s buddies have been going easy on criminals, but you know, they’ve been making it really hard for police officers to keep the peace on the streets.
I know Joe Biden doesn’t think you have the right to own the most commonly sold rifle in the country, but I think it’s downright evil to spend an ounce of energy trying to put Americans in prison for keeping their rifle and not registering it with the government. My administration is going after the people who are setting fire to buildings. We’re going after international terrorists and dicators. We’re going after the people who are intent on causing chaos and murder and mayhem, and we don’t care what their political ideology is. If you’re trying to hurt America, we’re going to stop you.
Joe Biden? He’s going after legal, law-abiding gun owners by turning them into criminals with the stroke of a pen. It won’t make us any safer, it will make us less free, and it simply won’t happen on my watch.
Obviously that could use a little translating to Trump-speak, but you get the basic idea.
I’ll leave you with this bonus prediction: If Wallace does bring up gun control, his question to Joe Biden will include reference to Biden’s 1994 “assault weapons ban”, and may even quote criticism that the law, which expired ten years after its passage, didn’t really impact crime. That gives Biden an opportunity to talk about how great his new and improved gun ban is compared to the old one, and it also allows Wallace to look like he’s giving Biden a tough question even though he’s really lobbing him a softball.