GOP Platform Nixes Support for Right-to-Carry Reciprocity

AP Photo/Michael Wyke

Pro-life activists are up-in-arms over the RNC's removal of any language relating to abortion from the Republican platform, but they're not the only group of conservative voters who've seen their top priority pushed out of the GOP's official priorities. As Jake Fogelman reports at The Reload, the RNC has also purged the 2024 platform of almost every mention of support for the right to keep and bear arms. 


The entire platform discusses gun rights just once, in a preamble statement about the party’s dedication to defending “our fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms.” The final product omits any discussion of tangible gun policy ideas.

The Republican Party platform’s downplaying of Second Amendment issues comes as the gun-rights movement finds itself in a precarious position politically. As guns have become increasingly polarized along party lines, gun-rights supporters have found themselves reliant on Republicans for political support. President Joe Biden has made gun control a fixture of his tenure in office and is already campaigning on even more sweeping proposals, including a ban on sales of the popular AR-15, in a potential second term. At the same time, while the GOP’s current standard-bearer has continued to seek the support of the National Rifle Association and make promises in speeches to the group, he has been fickle on gun policy at times. His felony convictions also mean he can no longer legally own or possess firearms.

The 2024 platform’s cursory discussion of gun policy priorities marks a significant departure from the party’s 2016 platform. The party previously dedicated an entire section to the Second Amendment. In it, the GOP listed specific pro-gun policies it wanted to enact, as well as gun-control measures it opposed.


The 2016 platform endorsed right-to-carry reciprocity as well as state-level Constitutional Carry laws, along with opposing bans on "the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle" and laws regulating or limiting magazine capacity. 

The 2016 platform also condemned "frivolous" lawsuits against the firearms industry and attempts by the then-Obama administration to harass firearm retailers, as well as "federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners, registration of ammunition, and restoration of the ill-fated Clinton gun ban." 

All of that language is now gone from the official 2024 platform, which is expected to be formally adopted during the Republican convention next week. In fact, for all the complaints that pro-life organizations have about the platform, it spends far more time on the issue of abortion than the right to keep and bear arms. There's at least a small portion of the platform that lays out the GOP opposition to "late term abortion", while protecting access to birth control and in-vitro fertility treatments.  

We proudly stand for families and Life. We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied Life or Liberty without Due Process, and that the States are, therefore, free to pass Laws protecting those Rights. After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People. We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments).


So why not something similar for the right to keep and bear arms? After all, the 14th Amendment prevents states from violating our Second Amendment rights as well, so why not chide places like California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois (to name just a few) that are infringing on our rights? Why not reiterate the Republican opposition to bans on so-called assault weapons and large capacity magazines, or to once again come out in favor of a national right-to-carry reciprocity law? 

The entire 2024 platform has been pared down extensively from what it looked like eight years ago, but it's not a great sign that almost every mention of the Second Amendment has been left on the editing room floor. Joe Biden has been using the executive branch to bypass Congress and implement new laws under the guise of ATF rules since he took office. He created the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to give the gun control lobby unprecedented access and power to set his anti-2A agenda. He's called for bans on "assault weapons" on an almost weekly basis. Perhaps most importantly, his campaign (if indeed he refuses to step aside) will be relying on tens of millions of dollars in outside spending from groups like Everytown and Giffords to help turn out his dwindling base of supporters. 

Democrats are sure to make gun control a part of their party platform, and it will be a regular feature in Democratic stump speeches between now and Election Day. I'm sure there'll be no shortage of Republican candidates outlining their support for the Second Amendment on the campaign trail, but it's an unforced error on the part of the RNC to remove almost every mention of the right to keep and bear arms from the party platform. 


I just hope it's not also a sign that Republican leadership is taking the votes of gun owners for granted as well, which would be an even bigger mistake for the GOP to make. Not that I expect a lot of Second Amendment supporters to cast their vote for Gun Ban Biden. But not voting at all is an option. Donald Trump knows that all too well, and both he and the RNC should be taking steps to shore up support among Second Amendment supporters rather than giving them an excuse for apathy come November. 

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