If the 2020 Democrat presidential primary is any indication, that party’s base and donor class will accept nothing less from their nominee than commitments to sweeping gun control. And the contenders appear happy to accommodate them.
No one doubts that the political hard left is unified around the idea of gun control in principle. But some in that camp are expressing concern that the pathway to the presidency may not lie in promising to criminalize otherwise law-abiding gun owners and to seize firearms that were obtained lawfully and never misused by their owners.
Honesty, in other words, is not the best policy when it comes to infringements of the right to keep and bear arms.
Leftist political pundit and talk show host Bill Maher claims to be a reluctant firearm owner, but no one would mistake him for a Second Amendment advocate. “[T]he Second Amendment,” he has repeatedly said, “is bull-[expletive deleted].”
Nevertheless, he is among the seemingly dwindling number of those on the far left who still maintain some awareness that America is a big country and that its politics are not necessarily defined by its most “progressive” coastal enclaves.
Last Friday, Maher used a panel discussion on his cable show “Real Time” to caution fellow opponents of Donald Trump that many Americans like guns. “Lots of people do,” he said, “and their view is, ‘Yes, there is a violence problem with guns, but not me. And you’re going after me.’”
Referring to the Democrats’ gun control proposals, Maher continued: “And I’m just saying, some of their solutions, all of the solutions, I don’t know if it would solve the gun problem.”
Maher went on to remind his guests that “we’ve lost elections before on this issue, which is not a winning issue for Democrats.” He also said that “liberals should learn more about guns” and noted that primary contender Cory Booker – who recently invoked the Virginia Beach murders to argue for gun control – did not answer the questions of CNN’s Jake Tapper about how his own proposals would have prevented those crimes.
Maher’s advice, unsurprisingly, was not well received by his guests. Charles Blow, a writer for the New York Times, insisted that “journalists have to stop asking that horrible question.” Blow indicated that picking out one incident to focus on is unfair, given the broader scope of firearm-related deaths in America. “The framing of the question is wrong,” Blow lectured.
Blow might have had a valid point, but for the fact that Booker and his fellow candidates essentially demand these inquiries by constantly bringing up rare but infamous and highly-publicized mass murders that account for a tiny fraction of firearm-related deaths, most of which are suicides.
Commonplace firearm-related homicides, meanwhile, very often occur in cities with strict gun control and involve repeat offenders who ignore the laws already on the books and undoubtedly would do the same to any additional laws that were imposed.
To his credit, Maher himself seems to recognize this. “You really don’t think it’s that simple?” he asked Blow. “It’s complicated. If you did everything that the Democrats wanted – and I support all of that – I still think you would have this problem, because it’s much more complicated than just the guns … or the type of guns.”
Later, Jake Tapper would find himself fending off a social media mob incensed that he would ask an embarrassing, if obvious, question of a left-leaning politician who favors gun control. “Booker changed his speech in CA to talk about the Virginia Beach shootings and need for more gun laws,” Tapper tweeted the Sunday after the Maher piece aired. “Asking what laws would have prevented/mitigated the specific tragedy he wanted to discuss was a natural question and a sincere one too.”
Maher and Tapper are hardly the first on the left to recognize the conundrum of gun control advocates who exploit the victims of mass murders to promote their agenda without actually offering any responsive proposals.
Mark Glaze was a founding figure and executive director of Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun empire, Everytown for Gun Safety. Glaze stepped down from that position in 2014, telling the Wall Street Journal at the time: “Is it a messaging problem when a mass shooting happens and nothing that we have to offer would have stopped that mass shooting? Sure it’s a challenge in this issue.”
Later, Glaze would become an advisor to another gun control group, Guns Down America, which aims to “take down the NRA, ” “reduc[e] the number of guns in circulation,” and “[m]ake guns significantly harder to get … .”
Glaze, in other words, can at least take satisfaction in now being more honest about his intentions. It’s not a question of preventing unpreventable crimes. It’s simply a question of doing everything possible to get rid of guns and to silence those who advocate for the right to keep and bear arms.
The real problem for anti-gun Democrats and gun control advocates, however, isn’t how they package their message.
It’s that they want to take away the hard-won freedoms of a freedom-loving people.
And while their occasional moments of self-reflection may not be making much of a dent in the fanaticism the hard left has for gun control, voters who support the Second Amendment should pay close attention.
Because when the oversharing of the primary ends and the real presidential campaign begins, the eventual nominee may well heed Maher’s advice and take a much more moderate (and misleading) tone on guns.
Yet the Democrat hopefuls have by now expressed all that needs to be said to betray their true designs on your Second Amendment rights.
EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.