The short version: Last night’s election results didn’t turn out the way gun control advocates were expecting, and gun owners may have been able to avert the most disastrous of election possibilities; united control by Democrats of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, we take a deeper dive into the election results (or at least those that are known so far) and what they mean for the fight for our Second Amendment rights over the next couple of years.
The most likely election outcome, barring any court decisions that might invalidate some disputed votes in swing states, would appear to be a narrow Joe Biden win, with Republicans maintaining control of the U.S. Senate. A worst-case scenario in the Senate would leave Democrats with a 52-48 majority, which wouldn’t give Biden the votes he needs in order to enact his plan to ban so-called assault rifles and high capacity magazines or any of the other items on his gun control wish list, like universal background checks, red flag laws, the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or bans on online sales of ammunition and gun parts.
It’s true that with 52 Democrats, the party could decide to scrap the Senate filibuster for legislation and allow bills to pass with just 51 votes instead of the 60 that are currently needed for cloture, including legislation that would expand the Supreme Court by four justices, but given the fact that Democrats appear to have actually lost ground in the House, and missed out on picking up seats in Montana, Iowa, Maine while losing Alabama, that would be a politically suicidal move.
The Democrats’ plans to overhaul the Senate rules were predicated on a “blue wave” election, and that never materialized in 2020. Instead, we got stasis. A closely divided electorate turned out in numbers not seen since 1900, and we’re just as divided today as we were on Monday night before the polls opened. Even if Democrats gain a majority in the Senate, their losses in the House this year should give them pause before nuking the filibuster and ramming through a sweeping gun ban with a bare minimum majority.
Of course, elections have consequences, and if Joe Biden is eventually declared the winner of the 2020 election he can still do damage to the Second Amendment, even without the help of Congress. We’ve already seen the ATF decide to capriciously change their interpretation of the word “pistol” in the Gun Control Act in order to block the importation of some AR and AK-style pistols, and the agency could be the primary tool that a President Biden would use to try to restrict the rights of gun owners as much as possible through administrative and regulatory powers. If the agency were to declare that all AR and AK-style pistols were actually items that required registration under the National Firearms Act, for instance, millions of gun owners would be impacted, and could face years in a federal prison if they failed to register their guns with the government.
No matter who ultimately wins the presidential election, the fight for our right to keep and bear arms will continue over the next four years. We’re still waiting to see exactly what the battlespace will look like, but as we detail on today’s show, at the moment things don’t look as bad as they could have been, both at the federal and state level.