The short version: better than you might think, but not as good as you were probably expecting.
We’ve already gone over some of the highs and lows of the Election Day here, from the sweep of Constitutional Carry governors winning re-election to the too-close-too-call races in Colorado’s Third Congressional District (where Lauren Boebert is a few thousand votes behind her Democratic opponent) and Oregon, where the gun control initiative Measure 114 is also narrowly ahead on the ballot, so I won’t spend a lot of time talking about those particular elections in this post.
Instead, I want to focus on what happens next. If, as expected, Republicans take control of the House, the prospects of any gun control legislation getting to Joe Biden’s desk are reduced to zero; in an of itself a substantial win for Second Amendment activists. But control of the House would also allow for at least some GOP oversight over the ATF, something that I anticipate will be of critical importance over the next two years. The agency is still planning to implement new rules on pistol stabilizing braces that could result in millions of legal gun owners becoming paperwork criminals overnight, and the gun control lobby is urging the Biden administration to take even more drastic action; declaring many common semi-automatic firearms to be considered machine guns under the National Firearms Act by claiming they’re “readily converted” into machine guns.
It’s unclear at the moment just how interested the administration might be in adopting the anti-gunners’ strategy, but if gun control legislation getting through Congress is off the table then Biden really only has his executive power (and his willingness to abuse it) to enact new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, and going big on guns will be awfully tempting tempting, especially since he’s repeatedly declared his intent to ban so-called assault weapons.
At the state level meanwhile, not much is likely to change. Anti-gun states are going to continue to slap as many infringements on the books as they possibly can, while gun owners will be challenging each and every restriction signed into law in federal court.
In terms of pro-2A legislation, Florida gun owners will be pressing Gov. Ron DeSantis to follow through on his pledge to sign Constitutional Carry into law before he leaves the governor’s office. In North Carolina, Republicans appear to have a veto-proof majority in the state Senate, but are two votes shy in the House, which could spell trouble for efforts to repeal the state’s permit-to-purchase law. Republicans will be looking to the most endangered Democrats in this year’s elections to help get repeal of the Jim Crow-era gun law over the finish line, but I expect Gov. Roy Cooper to do some serious arm-twisting to keep the Democratic caucus in line.
Second Amendment supporters didn’t lose ground on Election Day, even if we didn’t make the gains we were hoping for. There are, however, going to be substantial challenges in states like New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, and New Mexico; basically every state where Democrats control both the state legislature and the governor’s office. Expect everything from gun bans to severe infringements on the right to carry to be introduced in those statehouses as the 2023 sessions draw closer, and stay informed and engaged with your state-level 2A organizations so we can push back every step of the way.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Second Amendment advocate, friend of Bearing Arms, and newly-elected state representative Rebecca Schmoe of Kansas, who won election in the state’s 59th district on Tuesday night by a wide margin.
I believe that she’ll do a fantastic job for the residents of her district, and I expect that she’ll use her new position to continue her passionate advocacy in support of our Second Amendment rights as well. In fact, when she has a few minutes to spare I’m hoping to have her back on the show to talk about how other 2A advocates can follow her lead and run for office herself. The gun control lobby is already investing a lot of time and money developing their own candidates for offices ranging from school board to Congress, and Second Amendment supporters need to do the same, even if its without the formal backing of any gun rights organization.