As we watch 2018 come to a close, there’s a lot in our lives that we should be thankful for.
But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some real opportunities for expanding our Second Amendment rights that were blown all to hell and back this year.
Last year ended with two high-profile mass shootings that were still insufficient to move public sentiment all that much. While Las Vegas was horrific, it was soon followed up by Sutherland Springs. A shooting conducted by a man who never should have passed a background check allowed the discussion to shift away from banning firearms and into discussions about overhauling the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system and how data is added.
We entered 2018 with a few measures sitting in Congress, just waiting on passage. We had a supposedly pro-gun party in control of both chambers of the legislative branch. We had every reason to believe we’d see the passage of some key pieces of legislation and would end the year in a great position.
Then Parkland happened.
After that, Republican lawmakers got skittish. They were afraid to pass any pro-gun legislation out of fear of the coming midterms, scared that anti-gun sentiment would aid the suspected Blue Wave that was coming.
Well, the midterms happened, and the Democratic gains were modest, but they were still gains. The fear led to some serious missed opportunities in 2018, things we’re not likely to see considered again for quite some time.
The cause of national reciprocity for concealed carry permits shouldn’t be controversial. After all, every state recognizes drivers licenses from every other state. Why should concealed carry permits be any different?
But we’re talking about guns here, not cars. Despite vehicles claiming significantly more lives each year than firearms, the Left’s visceral reaction to firearms guaranteed that the measure would be controversial
Still, Republicans controlled both chambers. At the very least, it should have come up for a vote.
Now, we’re going to be years away from any such measure coming up for passage. With Democrats controlling the House in January, there’s a better chance of Jessica Biel leaving Justin Timberlake to try and woo me away from my wife than of a Pelosi-held House passing national reciprocity.
That makes this one of the biggest missed opportunities of 2018, but far from the only one.
We were so close at the end of 2017.
The Hearing Protection Act would take suppressors and remove them from the National Firearms Act list, putting them in gun stores and treating them like firearms. Sure, you’d have to get an instant background check and fill out a Form 4473 to get one, but that was going to be it.
This was especially likely because instructions fill the internet on how to build a suppressor in your garage, yet we virtually never see them used in a crime. That’s because despite what Hollywood portrays, they’re kind of awful for criminals. They’re long, bulky, and they don’t even reduce sound all that much.
But the perception exists still, and that made this a tougher challenge than it should have.
However again, despite Republicans holding both chambers of Congress, we couldn’t get passage on this either despite the pro-gun media’s efforts to point out how suppressors are more of a safety device than a tool for criminals.
I know what you’re going to say. We got a bump stock ban, and that’s not a good thing.
However, I also understand how politics work. Sometimes, you have to give a little to get a little.
Bump stocks, for example, were ripe for political dealings. While many of us are pro-bump stock, the fact is that a ban will impact relatively few people. Further, the maker of the bump stocks has already stopped taking orders. Bump stocks aren’t exactly going to become any more common.
It was a prime time to do a little dealing.
Democrats would gladly ban the bump stock and might have been willing to give ground on something like national reciprocity in return. After all, concealed carry holders all go through strict background checks. It was certainly a possibility.
But the Trump Administration decided to use the executive branch’s power to issue the ban by having the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) reverse its previous ruling on bump stocks.
Oh, some seem to believe that Trump’s playing a long game, that a court will rule against the government and it’ll be a prime example of Trump playing 4D chess.
The problem I have with that argument is that if the courts were going to rule against the ban, they’d rule against the ban either way. Trump could have offered up the ban in return for something, then let the courts override the ATF. He still would have what the Democrats gave him, and we’d still have bump stocks.
Instead, we get nothing in return for it.
While I might not like the bump stock ban, I could deal with it if there was still a way to look at it as a political win. As it stands now, though, it’s not. That’s a missed opportunity too.