I promise, this is the last time I plan on bringing up this topic for awhile, but before I put it to bed I wanted to get the opinion of someone with a different perspective than me. That’s why on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Jane Coaston of Vox joins me to delve deeply into the question of whether Democrats have a looming problem on their hands; the contradiction between support for old-fashioned gun control laws that rely on police to enforce versus the movement to defund, abolish, and “reimagine” law enforcement while seeking to depopulate or abolish prisons entirely.
It turned out to be a great conversation, and I appreciate Jane joining me to talk about the issue. She agrees that the two positions are at odds with each other, though she portrays the fight more as one between two parts of the Democratic coalition rather than an internal struggle for individual Democrats. While I definitely agree that the far-Left (Bernie Sanders and beyond) are less likely to support old-school gun control laws when you point out that they require armed policing to enforce, I think there are also a number of Democratic politicians who haven’t really wrestled with their own contradictory positions.
The roots of policing can be traced to the antebellum slave patrols of the South, which led to the establishment of all-white police departments.
Today, I join @OversightDems to examine white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement.
— Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) September 29, 2020
Ayanna Pressley’s talked a lot about what she believes is the inherent racism in policing, but if she truly believes that to be the case, then why on earth did she sponsor a gun control bill just last year that would have empowered local police chiefs to determine whether or not someone could own a gun based on the chief’s subjective determination about “suitability”?
The MASS Act (Making America Safe and Secure) would have given DOJ grants to states that implement Massachusetts-style gun licensing laws, including putting the ultimate power to approve or deny the exercise of one’s Second Amendment rights in the hands of a police chief.
The Making America Safe and Secure Act would incentivize states to adopt gun-licensing standards similar to those already proven to be effective in Massachusetts. Massachusetts has comprehensive gun licensing laws, and not coincidentally, one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation. Specifically, the MASS Act would: Authorize Department of Justice grant funding to incentivize and encourage states to adopt and maintain comprehensive licensing standards for all gun owners and dealers.
Set forth principles to obtain grants, including, but not limited to, requirements that:
• All gun owners have a license, not only at the time of a firearms purchase, but for the entirety of their ownership;
• Any person who sells ammunition or sells, rents, or leases a certain number of firearms — as established by the state — in a calendar year obtain a state firearms dealer license;
• The state establish standards for individuals prohibited from obtaining a firearms license or firearms dealer license;
• The chief of police or the board or officer having control of the police in a city or town, or a designee of that department, function as the licensing authority;
• Licensing standards for firearms owners include a thorough background check and a determination of suitability by licensing authority, which may include an in-person interview and the submission of references stating that the applicant is of sound mind and character;
• The licensing authority be given the discretion to deny, suspend, or revoke a firearms license or dealers license if an applicant is determined to be unsuitable
That’s not just problematic for Second Amendment advocates, it’s problematic (or at least it should be) for those who believe that policing is rife with racism and bias (conscious or not).
Coaston says in the intra-party disagreement between policing reform and police-powered gun control laws, the suburban Democratic voters who don’t consider themselves radical or members of the far-Left will be the ones backing Bloomberg-style gun control laws, while younger and more urban voters will be more likely be to push back against them. Ironically, conservatives may be able to gain some unlikely allies on the far-Left when it comes to protecting and securing our Second Amendment rights as more of them recognize that gun control laws have been and are being used to deny minorities and lower-income Americans their right to keep and bear arms in many states.
Be sure to check out the entire discussion above. I enjoyed talking to Jane, and we’ll likely revisit this issue again after the election. It could be that a realignment within the Democratic Party is shaping up, and a new wing of pro-gun (or at least anti old-school gun control) Democrats are emerging.
Twenty years ago it was the Blue Dogs; a group of moderate, mostly rural Democrats who were elected with solid 2A credentials, but of that group only Minnesota’s Collin Petersen is left in the House. The new crop of Democrats who reject police-imposed gun control laws would consist of those far to the left of Petersen, which definitely poses some challenges for bipartisan opposition to gun control in our polarized political climate, but politics does make for strange bedfellows, and no one can deny that these are already pretty strange times for us.