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A Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2019

By: Brenden Boudreau

In the wake of the 2018 midterm elections that saw Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and complete control of several state governments across the country, it was all to be expected that there would be a renewed push for gun control at every level of government.

It wasn’t just Democrats who led the charge for gun control, but as I’ll cover later, several high-ranking Republicans in states like Texas and Ohio joined the calls for implementation of anti-gun measures championed by the Brady Campaign and Bloomberg-funded organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety, and Moms Demand Action.

But it wasn’t all bad news in 2019, even though anti-gun politicians attempted to politicize every crime committed by a madman with a gun.

Because of the countless dedicated gun rights activists across the country, many of whom were mobilized by the bare-knuckle tactics of the National Association for Gun Rights, numerous victories were achieved in defending and restoring the right to keep and bear arms in America.

The Good

In the wake of several high-profile shootings in 2019, momentum was growing in Washington, D.C. for Congress to take up gun control.

President Trump drops support for gun control after loud response from gun owners
Unfortunately, President Trump once again heeded bad advice from anti-gun voices in his inner circle as well as weak-kneed Republican members of Congress like Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and initially came out in support several gun control measures, including a federal due process-shredding “Red Flag” gun confiscation law.

The National Association for Gun Rights was quick to mobilize gun owners across the country to the imminent threat of more federal gun control passing with President Trump seemingly signing off, and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate willing to wheel-and-deal with Nancy Pelosi.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed after the White House was inundated with an innumerable amount of calls and emails from pro-gun Americans making it clear to the President that supporting gun control would put his re-election at risk.

Anti-gun ATF nominee rejected after outcry from gun rights activists
Gun owners further sent a clear message to Washington, D.C. that they were tired of the assault on the Second Amendment by derailing the confirmation of anti-gun ATF nominee, Chuck Canterbury, Jr.

Canterbury had a long history of supporting federal government firearm registration schemes, so-called “assault weapons” bans, and opposing Constitutional Carry as president and CEO of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Constitutional Carry becomes law in three states, gun control defeated in New England
At the state level, gun rights activists in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Kentucky were successful in making Constitutional Carry a reality in their states in 2019. These victories were achieved after well-organized grassroots campaigns by the National Association for Gun Rights and other pro-gun organizations made it clear to the political establishment in these states that they expected Constitutional Carry and nothing less.

In all three states, Constitutional Carry passed with overwhelming majorities in the state legislatures and signed into law by their governors.

Despite Democrats taking complete control of the state government in Augusta, pro-gun Mainers succeeded in defeating nearly a dozen gun control measures in 2019.
Anti-gun radicals in both chambers of the Maine Legislature were champing at the bit to pass magazine bans, government-mandating waiting periods, and “red flag” gun confiscation orders, but were ultimately turned back by their colleagues from rural district who had their phones and emails flooded with opposition from gun owners.

Bolstered by gun rights activists across the state, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed four gun control measures sent to his desk by the anti-gun majorities in the General Court. Democratic legislative leadership failed to muster the votes needed to override his vetoes, ensuring that gun rights were safe in the Granite State for the year.

The Bad
While efforts to pass gun control in the liberal Northeast were derailed, gun owners in the Mountain West were not as fortunate when Democrats took complete control in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Gun Rights under assault in once solidly pro-gun states
Demographic changes and tepidness by Republican politicians led to large gains by Democrats in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada during the 2018 midterm elections. These Democrats viewed their electoral victories as a mandate to pass radical gun control once in power, and they did just that.

Democrats succeeded in passing due-process, shredding “Red Flag” laws in Nevada and Colorado, as well as universal background checks (“UBC” – better known as universal gun registration) in Nevada and New Mexico. Colorado already had UBCs on the books from the 2013 legislative session.

It’s yet to be seen if going all-in on gun control in these once proudly pro-gun states was worth the gamble for Democrats as voters head to the polls in 2020. These gun control measures were advanced in all three states with loud objections from gun owners, but the key will be if that anger turns into electoral defeats for anti-gun politicians.

Democrats take complete control of Virginia, preparing an anti-gun onslaught
Democrat legislative leadership in Richmond is signaling that they are ready to ram radical gun control into law after receiving what they view as a “mandate” to take action on guns.

They now have a 55 to 45 seat majority in the Virginia House of Delegates and a 21 to 19 seat majority in the Virginia State Senate, giving disgraced Gov. Ralph Northam the majorities he needs to pass his gun control agenda.

The response against the calls for gun control has been intense across the state, with gun rights activists pushing for their county governments to shield them from new gun control coming out of Richmond. The key will be turning that fervor towards Richmond once the legislative session begins, to make it clear to the Democrat majorities that passing gun control in Virginia will come at a high political cost.

NRA-backed Ohio Governor is a champion of gun control
Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has a long history of supporting gun control, which is why it is surprising that he received the NRA’s support during his 2018 election.
Very early on in his tenure as governor, DeWine endorsed “red flag” legislation and doubled-down on his support for gun confiscation orders after the Dayton shooting, albeit by trying to pull the wool over the eyes of gun owners by calling it by another name.

Not surprisingly, DeWine also called for the prohibition on the private sale of firearms in Ohio, forcing all law-abiding citizens to receive government permission before selling or purchasing a firearm.

So far, the Ohio General Assembly has not passed any of his legislative agenda, though there have been multiple hearings in the Senate, so Ohio gun owners must stay vigilant going into the New Year.

The Ugly
To call the Democratic presidential primaries “ugly” seems like a gross understatement. The vehement opposition to the Second Amendment has been on full display as the Democratic presidential hopefuls haven’t even attempted to hide their disdain for gun-owning Americans.

Democrat politicians say “Hell yes!” to gun bans and gun confiscation
There was once a time in recent memory when Democrat candidates for president would at least feign support for the Second Amendment. In fact, Barack Obama claimed that he supported the Second Amendment during his run for office in 2008 and even avoided the issue during his run for reelection 2012.

But that’s no longer in vogue as presidential hopefuls are seemingly trying out gun grab one another on the road to the White House.

The train really left the tracks during the September Democratic Presidential debate when Beto O’Rourke trumpeted his support for gun confiscation, yelling “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” via his Orwellian “mandatory gun buyback program.”

Since then, the candidates have been clamoring over one another to be the most radical advocates for gun control, with even Joe Biden advocating for bans on most commonly owned pistols.

Shockingly, Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders became the voice of reason in the Democrat field back in November stating at a Q&A session in Iowa that “a mandatory buyback is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional,” reports the Washington Free Beacon, though that doesn’t forgive Sanders of his long support for other radical gun control measures.

While Beto’s campaign ultimately failed to gain serious traction, his rhetoric helped create a lane for anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg to enter the race. And Bloomberg has wasted no time calling for a federal firearm purchase permit regime, “red flag” laws, and much more.

The Democrats’ open hostility towards the American gun owner is quite the electoral gamble and it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out for them.

What is wrong with Texas Republicans?
For a state that is viewed as being one of the most pro-gun in the nation, Republican leadership in Texas seems to have missed the message.

First it was Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen starting a fake news smear campaign against Texas Gun Rights Executive Director Chris McNutt as a means to distract from his open opposition to Constitutional Carry.

Then it was Bonnen’s shady backroom deals he tried to cut with conservative activists that were ultimately made public and led to his demise. More on that story
here.

Next it was Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who announced in September that he is going to defy the NRA and take the lead on pushing for criminalizing the private sale of firearms in Texas and require every transaction to be first approved by a government background check, ultimately creating a registry of every would-be gun owner in the state.

The Texas Republican establishment is quickly losing touch of reality and is running the risk of alienating gun owners, which is all but sure to lead them to electoral ruin.

Looking forward to 2020
The 2020 election cycle is going to be crucial for gun owners across the country to hold politicians accountable for their attacks on the Second Amendment and to make it clear to self-proclaimed “pro-gun” politicians that we expect them to actively fight for our rights once in office, not just use it as a cheap throwaway line to get votes from gun owners.

Politicians must pay a political price for supporting gun control, no matter their party affiliation, for if they don’t feel the heat from gun rights activists, they will only be emboldened to take away more of our rights.

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at bpb@nagrhq.org. Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.