They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this is not necessarily so in politics. Take Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton, who has long-been a champion of gun control. Yet, after serving as Secretary of State in the Second Amendment-averse Obama Administration, and in her continuing battle to vanquish her slightly less pro-gun control opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton has demonstrated she has become even more stridently opposed to the Second Amendment than she used to be.
Two decades ago, Hillary and her husband, then-president Bill Clinton, regularly displayed their disdain for the Second Amendment by – among other actions -- orchestrating the passage through Congress of the so-called “Assault Weapons” ban, co-opting certain firearms manufacturers into endorsing mandated trigger locks, and repeatedly pressing numerous federal agencies to exceed their jurisdiction by implementing anti-firearms policies.
At the National Rifle Association’s annual convention and board meeting in Louisville, Kentucky last weekend, I and other board members, along with tens of thousands of other freedom-loving Americans, discussed the future of gun rights in America – an issue that already has moved to the top tier of policy issues in this presidential election cycle – with the likes of Senators Rand Paul and Jeff Sessions, as well as de facto GOP nominee Donald Trump.
It is no secret that Trump has not always exhibited a clear understanding of, or consistent support for, the Second Amendment. For example, in years past, he has publicly supported an extended waiting period for gun purchases, and an “assault weapon” ban. More recently, in debates earlier this cycle with his former GOP opponents, Trump endorsed the Obama Administration’s plan to prohibit any individual whose name is on a secret government “watch list” from purchasing a firearm.
It would be easy to conclude, based on these positions, that Trump has not earned the support of voters for whom the Second Amendment remains a decisive factor. This would be a serious mistake.
Hillary Clinton has been, is, and by any reasonable analysis, will always be a supporter of gun control, and a die-hard foe of any measures that would strengthen the ability of law abiding individuals to defend themselves, their families, and their property with a gun.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, despite his earlier support for certain gun-control measures, during this campaign cycle has publicly and repeatedly enunciated clear positions in support of the Second Amendment and its applicability to policy measures in the real world. Importantly, his positions appear to be as sincere and heart-felt as are Hillary’s at the opposite end of the political spectrum.
Trump’s Second Amendment position paper, for example (which is available for anyone to read on his website), displays a clear understanding of and support for the Second Amendment. In addition to noting that gun bans, such as the “assault weapons” ban he earlier endorsed, have proven ineffective, the paper identifies several crucial gun rights issues the candidate champions. These reflect a thoughtful understanding of legislative and executive branch priorities for his Administration; including support for a national right-to-carry law, and such common-sense measures as removing the ban on military possession of firearms on military bases.
Even as Trump is strengthening his bona fides as a Second Amendment supporter, Clinton is racing further in the opposite direction. Most disturbing in this regard is her recent statement that the 2008 Heller decision by the U.S. Supreme Court -- which simply reached the common sense, and historically sound conclusion that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm, as opposed to some sort of “collective” right – is “wrong”; and that she would make it a priority as president to change it.
This sharp distinction between the two candidates, going to the very heart of whether the Second Amendment will continue to mean anything at all, takes on great significance considering that one of the very first steps the next president will take, will be to nominate a replacement for former Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (who wrote the Heller opinion).
In this regard, Second Amendment supporters should find very real comfort in the list of judges identified last week by Trump as among those he would nominate as Scalia’s replacement; every one of whom has a record of support for the constitutional, factual and historical analyses on which Heller was based.
The bottom line in all this? While there are and will continue to be legitimate questions about Trump’s views and positions on a wide range of issues and policies important to conservatives, for any voter who cares about protecting our God-given and constitutionally-guaranteed right to keep and bear arms, the vote for President this November is a no-brainer: Trump, Yes; Hillary, No.