Questions Arise About Whether Trump Is a True 2A Ally

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura

President Joe Biden has tripped over himself to pass gun control. When the legislature wouldn't oblige, he started pushing executive orders left and right. Now, the landscape is very different than where it was under his predecessor.


I don't think anyone would disagree that our gun rights are likely better under a Donald Trump presidency 2.0 than Biden.

However, The Reload's Stephen Gutowski, writing at The Dispatch instead of his own place, argues that there's reason to be cautious about Trump's Second Amendment support.

As presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sits in a Manhattan courtroom facing one of the several criminal trials that could permanently strip him of his ability to own firearms (he already can’t acquire new guns while under felony indictment), the gun rights movement faces an unstable and under-discussed precipice: Its national fortunes are tightly entwined with those of an unpopular politician who has threatened to cross them before and just got done crossing similarly situated pro-life activists.

Gun owners haven’t been on shakier ground in years, and their marquee organization—the National Rifle Association—is poorly positioned to steady things this time around. 


This decline might explain why gun rights activists seem to have lost power even among Republicans, who were indifferent to their votes during the presidential primary.

As much as the Republican primary was filled with pulled punches from Trump’s opponents, they at least occasionally tried to draw a policy contrast with the former president. Former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attacked Trump for being insufficiently committed to the pro-life cause on several occasions.

No one did the same for his commitment to the pro-gun cause, which was perplexing since the Trump administration’s accomplishments on guns are actually very similar to its pro-life accomplishments. Trump didn’t usher in much legislative change, but—as they did with the Dobbs case overturning abortion protections—his Supreme Court appointments delivered a ruling long sought by gun rights advocates: the expansion of recognized Second Amendment protections in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.

Trump’s pro-gun bonafides beyond Supreme Court appointments are probably more mixed than his pro-life ones, which should have opened him up for criticism from his Republican challengers. Though he signed a bill rolling back an Obama-era restrictions and established gun manufacturers as essential businesses during the pandemic, he also unilaterally imposed the bump stock ban using ATF rulemaking to bypass Congress (which is currently being challenged as unconstitutional at the Supreme Court).


Now, it should be noted that the bump stock ban was done with at least some NRA support, but it was considered preferable to the bill working its way through Congress that would have banned anything that facilitated people pulling a trigger faster, including potentially aftermarket triggers.

But the truth is that this wasn't the only moment in which Trump did something that shouldn't sit well with gun rights supporters. Let's not forget that he was all about the idea of taking guns, then providing due process rights.

That's not a pro-gun position.

Now, Trump wasn't exactly an anti-gun president, despite this. He did some things we didn't like, but he wasn't Biden. While he did more for gun control than Obama, that was only because Obama knew he'd never get away with it.

But that presidency also involved a lot of the NRA being knee-deep in helping to get him elected. That was the NRA of old, where it was strong and seemingly unstoppable.

While I do think that, in time, the NRA will either rebound or someone else will step up to fill the void, the truth of the matter is that it won't be in this election cycle. As such, there's little chance that Trump will feel nearly as much pressure to maintain at least some semblance of gun rights support as he did in his first term, especially since re-election would be completely off the table.

Does that mean we should just vote for Biden? Hardly. We already know who Joe Biden is on guns, and it's pretty clear that Trump is more likely to be the better choice for gun owners who aren't looking to vote third party.


But we probably shouldn't expect a pro-gun president who will toss all of those problematic executive orders out the window on day one and push to expand gun rights in Congress, either.

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