Throughout the two presidential debates and single vice-presidential debate the moderators did not ask a single question about gun control or the right to keep and bear arms. The dearth of coverage on Second Amendment issues at the debates follows a larger trend. Anti-gun lawmakers up and down the ballot, and even anti-gun organizations, have made the calculated decision to avoid gun control messaging in a year wracked by uncertainty.
Americans have made clear that they are not interested in gun control in 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest, law-abiding citizens have bought guns at an unprecedented rate. Through September, the FBI had processed a record-setting 28,826,449 total National Instant Criminal Background Check System checks for 2020. With three months of the year still left, 2020 has seen 456,699 more checks than any previous year. In August, the National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated that roughly 5 million Americans purchased a firearm for the first time in 2020.
The polling tells the same story. Each month Gallup asks Americans “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” Each month since February less than 0.5 percent of respondents have answered “Guns/Gun control.”
Understanding that Americans have no appetite for gun control, anti-gun candidates have de-emphasized their support for new gun restrictions and gun control activists have run from the issue.
Consider NRA-ILA’s recent election coverage on this topic.
Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety has sent mailers to swing districts in Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina that challenge candidates’ supposed positions on health care and pharmaceuticals. In Texas, Everytown targeted at least one candidate on the topic of public school funding.
In Georgia, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff put out an ad claiming he would “defend our Second Amendment.” The ad was a poor attempt to hide the candidate’s anti-gun record, which includes advocating for a ban on commonly-owned Second Amendment-protected semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15.
Montanans have been subjected to a pair of misleading anti-gun campaigns.
A Californian-bankrolled fake hunting group named the Montana Hunters & Anglers Leadership Fund put out ads erroneously claiming U.S. Senate candidate Steve Bullock is pro-gun. In truth, Bullock has stated his support for a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. In a particularly underhanded move, the phony group’s pro-Bullock ad featured a firearm that comes standard with a magazines that Bullock would ban.
Montana ballot measure LR-130 would strengthen the state’s firearms preemption statute to prevent anti-gun localities from restricting Montanans’ gun rights. Opponents of the measure have sent out misleading mailers claiming that a no vote would “protect our freedoms.” The group behind the deceptive messaging has received support from Washington state gun control group Alliance for Gun Responsibility and Bloomberg’s Everytown.
As evidenced by the debates, the Biden/Harris ticket’s media enablers have helped the Democratic candidates avoid the gun control issue. However, each has a well-documented record of attacks on the Second Amendment and has advocated for gun confiscation.
During a September 2019 “townhall” hosted by New Hampshire ABC affiliate WMUR, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made clear that he does not believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms and that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller was incorrect.
As District Attorney of San Francisco, Harris signed on to an amicus curiae brief in Heller that argued the Second Amendment does not protect an individual right to keep and bear arms.
During an August 5, 2019 CNN interview, Biden had the following exchange with host Anderson Cooper when asked about firearm confiscation:
Cooper: So, to gun owners out there who say well a Biden administration means they are going to come for my guns.
Biden: Bingo! You’re right if you have an assault weapon.
Given Biden’s repeated boasts about authoring the 1994 federal ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, it can be concluded that Biden’s definition of an “assault weapon” encompasses firearms covered under that legislation – including the AR-15. However, Biden has also made clear that he wants to ban 9mm pistols.
According to an article from the Seattle Times, during a November 2019 private fundraiser in Washington, Biden asked attendees “Why should we allow people to have military-style weapons including pistols with 9mm bullets and can hold 10 or more rounds?”
At a campaign even in Londonderry, N.H. in early September, then-presidential candidate Harris told reporters that confiscation of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms was “a good idea.” Elaborating on her support for a compulsory “buyback” program, the senator added, “We have to work out the details — there are a lot of details — but I do…We have to take those guns off the streets.”
The attempt to shift the election’s focus away from Second Amendment rights is telling. Anti-gun political strategists and their media lapdogs know that gun control is a losing issue in 2020. That speaks volumes about the public’s position.
However, gun rights activists cannot get complacent. While anti-gun candidates and groups are de-emphasizing the issue, their plans for gun control are clear. With the ongoing attempts to obscure and deceive, NRA members and gun rights activists should work even harder to inform their family, friends, neighbors, and other freedom-minded individuals about the true nature of these candidates and groups’ goals.