An editorial in the Sunday Charlotte Observer essentially says everything anyone needs to know about the contrast between Republican and Democrat positions on gun rights that should clarify which party is more eagerly courting gun owners from the Southeast to the Northwest.
The Democrats’ party platform will be adopted this week and while some will argue that it is essentially meaningless, there is a great deal of meaning in terms of where parties position themselves philosophically. You may download the 70-page document here.
If you’re the proud owner of an AR-15 type rifle that you perhaps bought in Bellevue, Richland, Tacoma, Wenatchee, Burlington, Spokane or anywhere else with a gun store that sells them (and there are lots of those in Washington!) the Democrat platform is an unfriendly document. As the Charlotte Observer editorialized, “The platform isn’t namby-pamby about calling for a ban on assault weapons.”
Here’s what the platform draft says on Page 53:
Firearms. We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements – like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole – so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.
Pacific Northwest gun rights advocates would remind Democrats that the individual right to bear arms is also an “important part” of the Bill of Rights, which is the cornerstone of the Constitution. They might also say there has already been an “honest, open national conversation about firearms.” It happened twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2008 and 2010, and on both occasions, the high court concluded that the Second Amendment protects an individual civil right to keep and bear arms.
But as Democrats are famous for doing, they want to keep discussion this going until they get the results they want; whether it is a “recount” of ballots, or reconsideration about how tightly we should ratchet down on the exercise of a civil right. The party platform is big on protecting civil rights. It says so right there on Page 51 of the draft:
Civil Rights. We believe in an America where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules. At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status. Democrats support our civil rights statutes and we have stepped up enforcement of laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and other settings. We are committed to protecting all communities from violence. We are committed to ending racial, ethnic, and religious profiling and requiring federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice, and we continue to support enforcement of Title VI. We are committed to equal opportunity for all Americans and to making sure that every American is treated equally under the law.
Indeed, anyone who reads the document from Pages 51 through 53 will see that the party talks about women’s rights, voting rights, congressional representation for District of Columbia residents (translating to another Democrat vote on Capitol Hill), and the freedom to marry.
Firearms freedom only comes up at the tail end of these three pages, and then gets treated somewhat as a regulated privilege. Indeed, there are six rather robust paragraphs about women’s rights and only one about gun rights, as if the party believes women (or Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans or Asian Americans) don’t own guns, and that gun rights are only important to fat, conservative white guys.
Tell that to the female publisher and female editor of Women & Guns magazine, or Western Shooting Journal, a newer publication that has prominently featured armed females on the covers of its first two issues, and also has a female editor.
Labor Day weekend is history, students are back in school and people – 23 million of them without work, as Clint Eastwood noted to “the empty chair” during last week’s Republican convention – will be now paying more attention to politics. It will be an interesting autumn.
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
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Second Amendment Foundation
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
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