When New York congressman Chris Jacobs declared he’d had a change of heart when it comes to bans on modern sporting rifles after the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store last month, he made headlines and earned plaudits from anti-gun activists and Democrats who were eager to praise his newfound appreciation for gun bans. Within the Republican Party in New York, however, Jacobs flip-flop went over about as well as you might expect, and now there’s a rush to find a candidate (or two) who can challenge the incumbent in the upcoming August primary.
The New York Post reports that Jacobs has until the end of day today to withdraw as a candidate, which seems unlikely, but it looks like primary voters will have at least one other option to choose from, with state GOP chair Nick Langworthy seeking to get on the ballot. And he might not be the last candidate to take on Jacobs over his endorsement of a ban on modern sporting rifles, which goes even further than the package of anti-gun bills being rushed through the state legislature. Those bills would raise the age to purchase a so-called assault weapon from 18 to 21 and require registration with the state, but doesn’t go as far as the full ban on the firearms (though I’m sure that’s coming in the future) that Jacobs now supports.
Langworthy could not be reached for comment, but state Sen. George Borrello says he is not ruling out a campaign for Congress against Jacobs, who Borrello had endorsed until Jacobs’ call for an assault weapons ban.
A federal assault ban was approved in 1994 and expired a decade later.
“He has sought the endorsements of every gun group and he should fully understand the impact of that … I understand where he’s coming from but the timing was extremely poor,” Borrello told the Post.
The nascent effort to oust Jacobs comes as Republicans have closed ranks against the idea of passing any new restrictions on gun ownership while expressing support for increased mental health services and additional security at schools.
Jacobs will likely beat the nominee for the Democratic Party – who currently hold a slim majority in Congress – this November if he remains the GOP and Conservative standard bearer in a district that ex-President Donald Trump won by 18 points in 2020.
But Jacobs will likely have to campaign without many of the powerful friends who helped him first win the seat in 2020.
Jacobs is entitled to think whatever he wants about gun control, but given that he ran for office as a defender of the Second Amendment and has suddenly flip-flopped to back a plethora of new restrictions on law-abiding citizens, the conservatives who elected him as their representative two years ago are also entitled to change their minds about how well he truly represents them.
More importantly, these voters, many of whom have seen firsthand how New York’s draconian gun control laws have failed to curtail violent crime or mass shootings while subjecting law-abiding gun owners to a host of burdensome restrictions, should have the opportunity to vote for a candidate who’s actually going to protect their civil rights instead of blaming them for the actions of violent criminals and murderous madmen. A choice between Chris Jacobs and an anti-gun Democrat is no choice at all for voters who don’t buy into the false promise of increased security at the expense of our rights, and if the GOP can’t successfully mount a primary challenge, what should be an easy Republican retention could end up a much closer race if gun owners and Second Amendment supporters choose to sit out the election rather than holding their nose and voting for the gun-banning “conservative” on the ballot.