With the chances of passing HR 1 about as good as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s bill to abolish the ATF being signed into law by Joe Biden, Senate Democrats used today’s attempt to bring the voting bill up for a vote as an excuse to demagogue Republican opposition for all kinds of imaginary sins. The most obvious bit of grandstanding came from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who proclaimed that the GOP is trying to make it harder to vote and easier to buy a gun.
"Republican legislatures are making it easier to own a gun than to vote": Schumer says GOP voting restrictions passed in states across the country are "opening the door for some demagogue, a Trumpian-type demagogue — maybe he himself — to try and subvert our elections" pic.twitter.com/zDe9Dv03eq
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 22, 2021
“They’re limiting the kinds of IDs you can use [to vote] like student IDs, while at the same time removing requirements for any form of licensing to own a firearm,” Schumer intoned.
“Has any study shown that there’s less fraud among firearm owners than students? There’s probably very little among either,” Schumer continued, apparently unaware that he was making the case for less gun control.
My friend Ed Morrissey has his own take on Schumer’s comments, calling his comparison “so fatuous that it’s a wonder it didn’t result in gales of laughter on the Senate floor.” I’m sure there were a few snickers, but honestly, my guess is that most senators (Republican and Democrat alike) learned to tune out Schumer’s ramblings long ago.
Still, if anyone was paying attention, they could have easily called Schumer out for his false claim that GOP-controlled states are making it easier to own a gun. I’m not aware of any state this year that has repealed a licensing requirement to own a firearm, though nearly a half-dozen states have repealed the requirement to obtain a license before a legal gun owner can lawfully carry one in self-defense.
Clearly Schumer has a problem with that. After all, he represents the state of New York, which is being hauled into court over its subjective licensing laws for carrying a firearm, and Schumer’s perfectly fine with residents having to demonstrate some special need or “good cause” to bear arms to protect themselves or others from violent criminals. If Schumer really wants to compare Republican efforts to reduce opportunities for election fraud and Democrats attempts to reduce keeping and bearing arms, I’m okay with that.
Schumer complains about Republicans limiting early voting hours and no-excuse absentee voting, which he says makes it harder for people to vote. What about the licensing laws requiring all law-abiding gun owners to beg permission to exercise their right to bear arms, and to wait for months on end for an answer from their local licensing authority? In Illinois there are tens of thousands of residents who’ve been twiddling their thumbs, in some cases for more than a year, until the state police get around to processing their Firearm Owner ID application that’s required to simply own a gun. Yet you’d never hear Schumer or Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) argue that the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents are being denied to them because of these unconscionable delays.
Ultimately, Schumer’s argument is just a weak case of whataboutism. Republicans, in his mind, are making it harder to vote and easier to own a gun, while Democrats want to make it easier to vote and harder to own a firearm. Why would Schumer believe that gives Democrats any sort of moral high ground? Schumer’s complaint amounts to “they’re restricting the wrong right,” which isn’t the compelling case he thinks it is.
In Ed’s post at Hot Air, he points out that there’s no law suspending the right to vote in cases of mental illness. If Schumer really believes that voting and gun-owning is an apples-to-apples comparison, then when should we expect to see Democrats introduce a Red Flag Voting Act that allows for the temporary suspension of voting rights for those determined by a judge to be a threat to themselves or others, or even restoration-of-rights legislation that restores the right to vote and own a gun for people previously convicted of a felony?
The answer, of course, is never. Schumer knows damn well that trying to compare election law and gun control law is ridiculous, but he wasn’t trying to seriously suggest that the two issues are the same. He was simply trying to ding Republicans for their election integrity bills, but accidentally ended up making the case against his own party’s obsession with restricting gun ownership instead.