What Shannon Watts left out of her gun control pitch to voters

What Shannon Watts left out of her gun control pitch to voters
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts claims in a new op-ed that the gun control lobby isn’t interested in “taking away your rights and liberties,” but her pitch for voters to back “gunsense” candidates this November paints a distorted picture of what exactly her group and other organizations in the gun control lobby are actually trying to do and the consequences their policies would have on responsible gun owners.


Watts argues that the policies she and her anti-gun allies advocate for are “basic, common sense policies proven to keep families safe,” and offers up the canard that there are plenty of gun owners who back her demands.

These aren’t ploys to take away rights — and our grassroots fight for gun safety has nothing to do with being anti-gun or anti-Second Amendment. Many of our volunteers are gun owners or live in households with guns. It’s simply about restoring the responsibilities that gun owners and non-gun owners support to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others — and that work has never been more urgent.

No, it’s about criminalizing the right to keep and bear arms and making it almost impossible to legally use a firearm in self-defense, whether in your home or in public. Watts advocated in her column, for instance, for “ensuring gun owners know how to store their firearms securely (locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition),” which makes it sound like Moms Demand Action and other gun control groups are simply interested in educating gun owners. That’s not the case at all. These groups want the law to punish gun owners who don’t store their firearms unloaded with ammunition locked up separately, even though that would render them useless in terms of self-defense during a home invasion or late-night break-in.

Consider this: We follow the law of the land and buckle our babies into car seats and make our kids wear helmets on their bikes to keep them safe. We keep household cleaners locked up around children and restrict who can buy certain medicines to safeguard them from poisoning and overdose. And we ensure our teens know the rules of the road and pass their driver’s test before handing them the keys to the family car.
These are practical, reasonable steps we take every day to keep our families safe. They do not impede our quality of life or our fundamental constitutional rights. Safety when it comes to firearms shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. Law-abiding gun owners don’t mind commonsense gun laws because they know they can follow them. And no one has more respect for the power and responsibility of wielding a firearm than gun owners themselves.
Consider this: Since the Supreme Court decision overturning New York’s “may issue” concealed carry laws, Moms Demand Action has railed against the right to carry a firearm in self-defense; a right that tens of millions of Americans exercise each and every day. Under the “may issue” standard that was rejected by SCOTUS, the vast majority of ordinary, average New Yorkers were deprived of their ability to lawfully carry a firearm in self-defense; a law that Moms Demand Action and its parent group Everytown for Gun Safety fought to keep in place. After the ruling came down, Watts bemoaned the court’s decision, which simply brought New York in line with the vast majority of states already operating under “shall issue” laws.
“This decision won’t stop our grassroots army from doing what we’ve done for a decade: fighting to keep our families safe,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “Just as we’re breaking the logjam in Congress, we’re going to work day-in, day-out to mitigate the fallout in New York and any other states impacted by this decision and elect gun-sense lawmakers up and down the ballot.”
In the wake of the Bruen decision Watts and her cohorts have been busy advocating that other states adopt the unconstitutional gun control laws that New York rammed through the legislature in response to the Supreme Court’s opinion. This doesn’t sound like a group that respects the right to keep and bear arms. Instead, it sounds like an organization that believes even law-abiding gun owners are a big problem.

“Making sure firearms are kept out of sensitive areas, like where our kids play in parks and schools, or where democracy is protected like government buildings is critical to saving lives and protecting public safety,” said Erica Yamauchi, volunteer lead for the Hawaii chapter of Moms Demand Action and Director at the Hawaii State Department of Health. “We stand with Mayor Blangiardi in calling on the legislators of Honolulu City Council to pass this ordinance to keep our community safe in a post-Bruen America.”

The Honolulu ordinance would recognize certain locations as “sensitive places” where firearms are prohibited. These sensitive places would include schools, parks, government buildings, voter service centers, and public transportation. Additionally, the ordinance would prohibit firearms in private businesses and charitable organizations by default – unless those property owners decide to allow them. The ordinance is necessary in the wake of the Bruen ruling, which resulted in the unenforceability of part of Hawaii’s law limiting the public carrying of concealed firearms unconstitutional, and will lead to more people in Hawaii receiving permits to carry loaded handguns in public.

Under the supposedly common sense laws endorsed by Watts and Moms Demand Action, even those who’ve managed to obtain a concealed carry license could be sent to prison for years for simply setting foot in a public park or on a city bus with their concealed firearm. Watts and the gun control lobby insist that the vast majority of the public supports laws like these, but the fact is that when people become aware of the devil in the details of gun control proposals, approval tends to drop dramatically… which is probably the main reason why anti-gunners like Watts are so quick to talk about a gun control law’s supposed intent as opposed to the penalties it places on responsible gun owners.
It’s telling that in her pitch to midterm voters even Shannon Watts felt like she had to at least pay lip service to the fact that our right to keep and bear arms is a real and fundamental right while completely avoiding any mention of what she believes should happen to gun owners who violate her precious gun control laws. Her best argument is one that relies on half-truths, omitting facts, and ignoring the Constitution… and it’s one that even non-gun owners should reject as they cast their ballot this election.

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