Elections

Biden, Beto, and Gun Control

Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke endorses former vice president Joe Biden at a campaign event at Gilley’s in Dallas, Texas, U.S., March 2, 2020. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)
They want to take your firearms away and make no bones about it.

November 2020 will be known as the gun-control election.

Tuesday night, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that Beto O’Rourke “will be the one who leads” his gun-control effort. “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15,” O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate himself, famously promised in a debate in September. They are “weapons of war, designed to kill people efficiently on a battlefield,” he warned.

O’Rourke vowed to “buy back every single assault weapon” but said that he would use force if people didn’t voluntarily agree to selling their guns. The former candidate also appears to support all the currently discussed gun-control proposals.

Last year, many Democrats worried that O’Rourke’s aggressive position would alienate moderate voters and give credence to conservative assertions that Democrats really do want to take away people’s guns. Some prominent Democrats felt it necessary to distance themselves from those comments. “I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said. Others blamed O’Rourke for creating distrust about gun-control advocates’ motives. A CNN headline last fall posed the question, “Is Beto O’Rourke single-handedly dooming a gun control bill?”

After O’Rourke’s comments, President Donald Trump tweeted that O’Rourke had “convinced many that Dems just want to take your guns away.” Biden has now locked himself into that position.

In every campaign rally, Trump declares his unwavering support for the Second Amendment. It appears to be one of his most popular lines.

O’Rourke constantly gives the impression that AR-15s are “weapons of war.” In fact, no self-respecting military in the world would use the “assault weapons” that he wants to confiscate. AR-15s fire the same sorts of bullets as small-game hunting rifles, and do so with the same velocity and rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger). In fact, AR-15s aren’t allowed for deer hunting in most states because of the fear that they will wound rather than kill the animals. Such small-caliber rounds may cause the deer to die slowly and painfully.

O’Rourke may be correct that weapons of war are “designed to kill people efficiently on a battlefield.” But that’s not the story of civilian gun use. Guns can also protect people and keep them from harm. About 95 percent of the time, simply brandishing a firearm will cause criminals to break off their attacks.

People need only look at Virginia to see what Democrats have in store for the nation at large. The state has recently enacted many new measures, including Red Flag laws, gun-lock requirements, a one-handgun-a-month purchase limit, and costly background checks on the private transfer of guns. Virginia has even given its local governments the green light to pass their own, more extreme gun-control laws. In a matter of just a few months, Virginia is going from a gun-friendly state to one of the most restrictive states. That will make it hard for people to exercise their right to self-defense.

Only the courts will be able to rein in these state gun-control laws. Trump’s federal judicial appointments have made a difference, but they have only just reached an approximate political balance. Republicans hold a nominal 5-to-4 majority on the Supreme Court, but John Roberts is not a dependable vote on gun-control issues.

The Supreme Court hears fewer than one out of every thousand cases decided by the circuit courts, and those courts are equally divided. Democratic judges hold the majority in circuit courts in 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, while 26 states have Republican majorities. Only a second Trump term in office could really tilt the balance of the federal judiciary.

Biden was Barack Obama’s point person in his push for gun control. That wasn’t by accident. In choosing Beto O’Rourke, a person who openly brags about not owning a gun, Biden has made the election debate over whether people should even be able to own guns. Make no mistake about it, your right to defend yourself is as stake in November.

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