Last week I wrote about Rep. Byron Donalds’ moving and personal account of growing up in Brooklyn and seeing the effects of “gun violence” firsthand, including being robbed at gunpoint when he was a teenager. Despite that (and in part because of those experiences), Donalds did not grow up to become a fan of gun control. Instead, he says he’s devoted to the Constitution, which is why he believes it’s so important that “raw emotion doesn’t cloud our judgment, but rather that steady, constitutional solutions take priority” when lawmakers are faced with an electorate demanding they “do something” to address an issue; in this case school shootings.
I’m very pleased that Rep. Donalds could join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to talk more about his take on the gun control debate and to get his thoughts on the Senate gun deal that’s being rushed through Congress with little time to read the text or to consider the ramifications of the legislation.
Donalds says that Washington, along with every other level of government, “have a habit of legislating emotionally to respond to the emotions of the body politic.”
But, he added, “when you’re an elected official your number one duty, and I say this all the time when I’m looking at people running for office, the number one quality I look for is restraint.
“Do you have enough, you know, emotional maturity to actually restrain yourself from just acting because you have the power in your hands to do so. Do you have the ability to actually take a step back and look at the situation logically and plan out the best path forward from a legislative perspective.”
Donalds pointed to two examples of what he called “emotional legislation” coming from Capitol Hill; the Dodd-Frank Act enacted in 2010 in response to the mortgage crisis, which Donalds says ended up making big banks bigger and hurt smaller community banks and their customers; and the federal response to COVID-19, which the Florida Republican ended up creating a host of new problems, including delayed development for kids kept out of school in some blue states for close to two years.
As Donalds says, the fear of the unknown on the part of voters isn’t necessarily irrational, but that doesn’t mean that the same will be true of a legislative response. Which brings us to the gun deal that received a preliminary vote of approval on Tuesday night and seems headed to the House for a vote by the end of this week. Where does Donalds stand on the legislation? While the congressman says he hasn’t had a chance to read the entire bill, he has “real concerns” about the bill incentivizing states to adopt “red flag” laws.
“When I was in the Florida legislature I voted against the school safety bill because it contained ‘red flag’ laws,” Donalds said. “Look, the reality is that ‘red flag’ laws take away the due process rights of legal gun owners. I understand where people say we want to get guns out of the hands of people who are mentally unfit, I understand that, but in the United States every American citizen has due process rights. We cannot eviscerate due process rights because of our concern that someone in our family or a neighbor might have. You have to give people their legitimate ability to defend themselves in a court of law. That is our system of government. Based upon that alone, I can’t support the legislation.”
Be sure to check out the entire conversation with Rep. Byron Donalds in the video window above, which includes his thoughts on what he believes would be a more rational and constitutionally-sound way to address school shootings and violent crime. I’m glad that he was able to join me on the show today, and I look forward to welcoming him back again in the very near future.