Perhaps the most pernicious thing about red flag laws is how many Republicans seem to be emboldened enough to back them. It’s part of why I figure we’ll eventually be saddled with the measures. After all, Democrats seem to love anything that restricts our gun rights, so we’re left counting on the GOP to protect those rights. If Republicans cross sides on this, we’re screwed.
However, life shouldn’t be easy for Republicans who side with gun control, even things like red flag laws.
It seems Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is finding that out in a fairly awkward way.
At the 2020 State Committee of the Republican Party of Arizona meeting, pro-gun hecklers interrupted Gov. Doug Ducey’s address, in opposition to the governor’s support of so-called ‘red flag’ laws.
The meeting, where officials from the Arizona Republican Party conduct official party business, had several hundred attendees from each precinct and district. The list of speakers included Representatives David Schweikert, Paul Gosar, and Debbie Lesko, as well as Sen. Martha McSally and Governor Doug Ducey.
As the Governor began his address, at least a dozen protesters began chanting ‘no red flags.’
The Governor, who was visibly flustered, stopped speaking. State Republican Party Charwoman Kelli Ward banged her gavel repeatedly until the chants subsided.
After Ward threatened to have the heckler’s removed if they continued to interrupt, Ducey claimed that Arizona was the most pro-gun state in the nation, and that wasn’t going to change.
That should be encouraging news since someone like you or me might interpret that to mean that Ducey was done with red flag laws.
However, I’m more skeptical than that.
I’ve seen too many people commit the mental contortions necessary to convince them that red flag laws don’t run afoul of gun rights, that it’s not even a gun rights issue, to rest easy. I can’t accept that Ducey’s statement was a de facto denunciation of any red flag proposal.
That said, his previous attempt didn’t go anywhere, and it’s unlikely that a new measure would get much further. It’s certainly possible that he won’t try again, not if he values his political capital.
The big question is whether this kind of behavior by gun rights proponents is particularly useful.
Sure, it seems to have forced Ducey into addressing gun rights, but does it ultimately help us win? That’s mostly a rhetorical question because I don’t know either way. I suspect that it may work in some cases, but not others. Did it pressure Ducey into making a gun rights stand, or did it make it far easier for anti-gunners to dismiss gun rights supporters as, say, “little kids”?
Look, we’re doing well by holding ground right now in this current political climate. We need to evaluate our tactics and the tactics of our opponents so we can renew the fight in the most effective manner possible. Our gun rights are far too important to go about this half-cocked (pun fully intended). Does heckling lawmakers make a difference toward the better? Toward the worse? Or does it make us feel better without accomplishing much of anything?
These are questions we need to ask and to answer.