I had to chuckle the other day when I saw a story in the Denver Post outlining Colorado Democrats’ expansive gun control agenda this session, which, according to the paper’s reporters, is the result of “increasing Democratic electoral dominance in Colorado and growing gun reform activism.” The truth is that Democrats in the state have been putting new gun control laws on the books almost every year for the past decade, though it’s true that outright bans on semi-automatic firearms haven’t gotten very far in the past.
Democrats in Denver seem intent on making a sweeping gun ban one of their top priorities this year, but Colorado is far from the only place where the anti-gun Left is going big.
A semi-auto ban recently passed the Virginia House, for instance, despite the fact that Democrats hold just a one-seat majority in the chamber and Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin is almost certain to veto the measure. As Phillip Van Cleave of the Virginia Citizens Defense League described this year’s push in a Monday email to members:
So far, there is not even one Democrat in either the House or the Senate who does not support every single bill that negatively affects lawful gun owners. In fact, only Democrats have put in such bills.
I’ve never seen anything like this in all the years I have been lobbying for VCDL. 47 gun-control bills could all land on Governor Youngkin’s desk! It’s rare to see more than 3 or 4 gun-bills do so.
Constitutionality or other serious issues with the gun-control bills are ignored. Testifying in front of the full House Public Safety committee last Friday, I said they need to put up a sign that says, “Caution: You are entering a Constitution-Free Zone.”
Republican bills, that would strengthen penalties on criminals who repeatedly misuse firearms to commit violent crimes, were unanimously voted down by Democrat legislators in committees. Gun control groups also spoke against the bills. For such groups, crime is the excuse they depend on to attack our gun rights. Their intent is clearly civilian disarmament, not a reduction of crime.
Even when Virginia Democrats had complete control of state government in 2020 we never saw anything like this avalanche of anti-gun legislation, but the Old Dominion isn’t an aberration. Instead, this is the norm in state after state this session. New Mexico Democrats, who shot down a gun ban bill last year, are poised to send a bill banning the sale and manufacture of gas-operated semi-automatic long guns that can accept detachable magazines to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signaled her support for a semi-auto ban this session, while lawmakers in Massachusetts appear set to expand the state’s current ban on modern sporting rifles.
Why the sudden interest in putting these bans in place, especially in states where Democrats have been reluctant to push the issue in the recent past? I think the answer boils down to the 2024 elections. It’s an open question as to how many Democrat lawmakers actually believe banning semi-autos is a winning issue, particularly in swing districts, but there’s no doubt that Joe Biden is making gun control a centerpiece of his reelection bid, and most Democrats are at least willing to go along.
Both Biden and Kamala Harris have made an “assault weapons” ban one of the standard talking points of their speeches on the campaign trail, with Biden seemingly calling on Congress to enact a new ban every week. Biden’s declared this to be “Community Violence Awareness Week”, and I’m guessing we’ll hear him and other White House officials once again demand a gun ban as he courts Black voters, whose support is cratering compared to his 2020 campaign.
Democrats argue Black voters need to be taught about what they say are Biden’s major successes, pointing to the Inflation Reduction Act, student loan forgiveness and other issues.
According to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll released in January, Biden’s support among Black voters has fallen to just 63%, down from the 92% that Pew Research Center data shows he won in the 2020 presidential election. His support among Hispanic voters is down to 34% from 59%.
“Precisely how scared Democrats should be about Biden’s standing depends on how his plight compares with those of presidents past. And there’s no sugarcoating it: This might be the worst polling environment for an incumbent president one year out from an election since the advent of the polling era in the 1930s and also the most dire situation facing any Democratic presidential candidate in decades,” David Faris, a writer and political science professor at Roosevelt University, said last month.
“Panic is entirely warranted,” he added.
Support for gun control is highest among Black voters, according to a Pew Research survey in 2023, with women not far behind. As Biden tries to gin up support for his reelection bid, generating enthusiasm among those voting blocs is essential to his political survival. Biden is a true-blue believer in gun control, but playing up an “assault weapons” ban also ensures that gun control groups will spend heavily to back both his reelection bid and down-ticket Democratic candidates, which could very well give him an advertising edge given that the NRA is expected to ration its own campaign spending thanks to its cash crunch.