We tend to view the Second Amendment as more of a conservative/libertarian issue. The right to keep and bear arms is typically upheld by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
That’s a simplistic view, though. While it’s generally correct, there are a number of Republicans who have backed various forms of gun control in recent years. Further, there are a handful of pro-gun Democrats floating around. Most aren’t in public office, mind you, and none in the United States House of Representatives, so far as I can tell, but they do exist.
They exist and their pro-Second Amendment stance is practically non-existent in their party’s potential nominees for president.
Like many liberals, Lara Smith considers herself a feminist, favors abortion rights and believes the nation’s immigration policies under the Trump administration have just been “vile.”
But when it comes to guns, Smith sounds more like a conservative: She opposes reviving the nation’s assault weapons ban, enacting red-flag laws or creating a registry of firearms. The 48-year-old California lawyer owns a cache of firearms, from pistols to rifles such as the AR-15.
Smith and liberal gun owners like her face a quandary as voting in the Democratic primary intensifies with Super Tuesday this week. They are nervous about some of the gun control measures the Democratic candidates are pushing and are unsure who to trust on this issue.
“You’re alienating a huge part of your constituency,” Smith said of the Democratic field’s gun proposals. “You have a huge constituency that is looking for something different and when you are talking about restricting a right which is so different than everything else you talk about, you are being anti-liberal.”
Many of them are feeling increasingly disillusioned by their party as it lurches toward the left on the Second Amendment, but they’re also wary of President Donald Trump for a variety of reasons: his conservative leanings but a track record in office that has led to several gun restrictions, such as the banning of bump stocks.
And, unfortunately for them, that’s the reality of the Democratic Party right now. Every single candidate in the field is pushing some form of gun control.
But really, should they?
Obviously, most Bearing Arms readers are going to say that no, they shouldn’t. Not because they’re worried about the Democrats, but because they see the Second Amendment as inviolable.
However, there’s another reason why Democratic candidates probably shouldn’t have been too quick to jump on the anti-gun train.
An estimated 23 percent of Democrats nationally lived in households with guns in 2018, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. And roughly 20 percent of gun owners — about 12 million people — identify as liberal, according to results from a survey between 2014 and 2018. More than a third describe themselves as moderates, while just under 45 percent call themselves conservatives.
Right now, 23 percent of the Democratic vote would put a candidate in second place behind Sen. Bernie Sanders for the nomination. Further, a pro-gun Democrat might even win over some on the right who are less than pleased with President Trump for whatever reason.
Yet not a single such candidate exists.
The least radical candidate running for the Democratic nomination is probably Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, yet even she pushes gun control via her campaign website. Her proposals aren’t nearly as objectionable as most of her opponents’ positions, but she’s not really a gun rights candidate either.
So where does that leave pro-gun Democrats?
Frankly, I’d argue their best choice–assuming, of course, they’re bound and determined to continue voting Democrat–would simply be to vote for the least objectionable candidate possible. That would likely be Gabbard or someone like her.
However, it also seems that many are looking at candidates and imposing something of a Rorschach test and seeing what they want to see. Smith, for example, was leaning toward Sanders or Sen. Amy Klobuchar who withdrew from the race yesterday. Sanders, at least, had a pro-gun history having once been endorsed by the NRA. That position has since changed, though, yet she seems to feel Bernie would at least entertain the conversation.
Others think someone like Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the least likely to infringe on their gun rights.
Personally, I think there’s a fair bit of wishful thinking, but that’s just me.
Yet let’s also remember that liberal gun owners aren’t as single-issue as many of us are. They may want to see the Second Amendment protected, but it’s not a driving force for many of them. They don’t use it as a litmus test for a candidate like many on the right do. Left-leaning gun folks are likely more interested in things like immigration, welfare, and healthcare than the Second Amendment, at least when it comes to picking a candidate to back.
Regardless, though, there’s no perfect candidate for them. I’m sure it sucks, especially since it’s to our benefit if they did have a pro-gun candidate to back.