The push for new gun control laws is on in earnest with the inauguration of Joe Biden set for this Wednesday. Democrats in and out of office are already starting to make their arguments about why we need to place some “common sense” restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, and it apparently doesn’t matter to them if their narratives are wholly divorced from reality.
Take this recent piece by Linda Finn, the executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, for example. Finn claims that the record-setting pace of gun sales in 2020 that’s continued into the new year is the result of “pro-gun scare tactics,” rather than accept the fact that in a period of unprecedented uncertainty for many Americans, a good number of them have realized they would like to have a firearm for the protection of themselves and their loved ones.
In her column, Finn offers up virtually no evidence that the sharp increase in gun ownership is a result of “insurrectionism [that] is regularly encouraged by the NRA and its top leaders, with calls to purchase firearms and ammunition to protect liberty and fight against government tyranny.” In fact, she doesn’t even offer any evidence that the NRA and its top leaders promote insurrectionism.
Instead, she just declares that it’s so, confident that most of her readers will automatically agree with her or assume it’s true. Besides, her point really isn’t to attack Second Amendment organizations, but to scapegoat them before getting to her real agenda; slapping a whole lot of new gun control on the books in Rhode Island.
Now is the time to de-escalate hate by regulating the sale of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines that can hold up to 100 rounds of ammunition and can be emptied in a matter of minutes.
We all need to respect the rights enshrined in both our federal and state Constitutions, but we don’t need to be held hostage by radical gun extremists. The Supreme Court has upheld laws in states that ban assault weapons and regulate the sale of ammunition for these weapons. A new majority of both Rhode Island Senators and Representatives support changes needed to make us safer.
No, the Supreme Court hasn’t upheld any ban on weapons, magazines, or regulations on the sale of ammunition. SCOTUS hasn’t heard any cases dealing with those subjects, which is a very different thing.
The Court may very well weigh in on these issues in the not-too-distant future, however. A challenge to California’s ban on “high capacity” magazines is currently in the Ninth Circuit, while a case dealing with the state’s ban on so-called assault weapons is proceeding in U.S. District Court. Any gun, magazine, or ammo ban passed in Rhode Island would also face immediate litigation. The First Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Rhode Island, would likely uphold at least the gun and magazine bans, but that doesn’t mean the Supreme Court would if it decided to accept a case when it eventually reaches the Court’s doorstep.
Ultimately Finn’s entire argument is based on a false narrative about who and what is driving the increase in gun sales and a lie about the constitutionality of the gun control measures she’s demanding. We know what’s caused a record number of Americans to go out and buy a gun over the past year, and it wasn’t because they all started listening to Wayne LaPierre and got themselves all worked up into a lather.
We had the coronavirus lockdowns along with the emptying of jails and the shuttering of our court system, which led to the first increases in violent crime. Then we had the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the ensuing riots that swept across the country, causing police resources to be redirected and officers to pull back on proactive policing altogether. That caused the second surge in both violent crime and Americans demanding firearms for self-defense.
Then we had the elections, and the prospect of Joe Biden’s anti-gun agenda being put into practice. That too led to another increase in gun sales before the riot at the Capitol helped to create a new spike in interest over the past week and a half.
I hope that every gun owner in the state, new and old alike, gets involved with organizations like the Rhode Island 2nd Amendment Coalition to lobby against these bills at the state level as well as to work with local governments on issues like Second Amendment Sanctuaries, which have sprung up in a number of towns in the state over the past year. Finn’s premise is as flawed as the policies she’s promoting, but she’s right about at least one thing. The numbers are there, at least on paper, for Democrats to pass every gun control law she wants.