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Year in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Gun Control in 2018

By: Brenden Boudreau

As we prepare to celebrate the ringing in of a new year, it’s always good to take a glance in the rearview mirror to see how far we’ve come.

For American gun owners, the year 2018 was a mixed bag. While this was the first time in years that federal gun control passed through Congress, without the activism of pro-gun patriots coast-to-coast, things could have been much worse.

And while Democrats made gains in Congress and in state capitols this fall, Republicans maintained control of the U.S. Senate, as well as several state legislatures; they will serve as a bulwark against the actions of newly-elected anti-gun executives in those states.

Looking back on the successes of the gun rights movements, as well as the failures to stop gun control legislation, will remind us of what is at stake and motivate us to action.

Before delving into all of the bad news from 2018, let’s first take a look at what gun owners did to prevent the erosion of the Second Amendment:

The Good
While all too many state legislatures, controlled both by Republicans and Democrats, joined in the anti-gun hysteria in the wake of the Las Vegas, Parkland, and Santa Fe shootings, gun rights activists in several states were successful in blocking gun control pushes being funded by the anti-gun left.

Even though the Texas Legislature is not in session during even years, Republican Governor Greg Abbott heeded bad advice and jumped on the anti-gun train by calling for “red flag” gun confiscation orders and mandatory storage laws.

It seemed likely that Abbott would call the Legislature into special session to take action on guns, especially after calling on legislative leadership to “look” into these issues with summer study commissions.

Mobilized by the grassroots tactics of Texas Gun Rights, gun owners flooded the governor’s office and legislative offices with phone calls and e-mails denouncing the calls for more gun control.

Abbott seemed shocked by the outcry over his newfound support for gun control and hastily backed-off.

In Michigan, due process-shredding gun confiscation legislation was stopped dead in its tracks, even after outgoing Republican Governor Rick Snyder came out and publicly supported these laws in the spring of 2018.

Colorado and Maine both saw “red flag” laws introduced with bipartisan support, and both proposals were defeated. Unfortunately, as I’ll discuss later in this article, these two states will be the frontlines for the next push of gun confiscation orders, as Democrats have made major gains in each state.

Gun owners in Missouri, North Dakota, and Indiana were successful in ousting anti-gun Democrat U.S. Senators, helping Republicans maintain control of the upper chamber. These victories proved vitally important in the wake of results in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Bad
Just days after Democrats gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi declared the new majority “will act boldly and decisively” on gun control, calling it a “priority.”

The banning of private sales as well as the renewal of the Clinton “assault weapons” ban are expected to be introduced early in the new session of Congress and could be voted on soon thereafter.

Election Day 2018 saw Democrats take control in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Maine, where the new Democratic majorities and governors have all announced intentions to act swiftly on gun control.

Outgoing Maine Republican Governor Paul LePage was the only bulwark standing in the way of “red flag” legislation becoming law, having vetoed the bill when it arrived on his desk. Newly-elected Democratic Governor Janet Mills is perceived to be much less friendly to gun rights than LePage.

In Colorado, Republicans lost control of the State Senate, which had successfully blocked gun control measures since taking control of the chamber after the recall of two Democratic Senators back in 2013.

Newly-elected Democratic Governors Steve Sisolak of Nevada and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico campaigned heavily on calls for more gun control and are sure to have allies in their respective state legislatures filing every anti-gun measure imaginable.

In spite of its left-leaning tendencies, Bernie Sanders’ Vermont had long held on to its tradition of being one of the gun friendliest states in the Union, but that sheen is quickly wearing off after Republican Governor Phil Scott opened the floodgates for gun control by indicating his willingness to sign any anti-gun restriction that lands on his desk.

Anti-gun Democrats and Progressives in the Vermont Legislature took this as an open invite, sending to Gov. Scott a massive legislative package that included magazine bans, universal Brady checks, prohibiting persons under 21 years of age from purchasing a firearm, as well as “red flag” gun confiscation orders.

The Ugly
For years, gun owners have been told that Republican politicians are our greatest friends and that they must be blindly supported because of the evil Democrats who are coming after our gun rights.

Yet in Washington, D.C. and state capitols around the country, it was all too often Republicans (at the behest of the establishment gun lobby) who championed gun control.

Outgoing Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott, soon to be a U.S. Senator, led the charge in his state to enact the largest expansion of gun control in recent Florida history. He was able to accomplish his legislative goal with the help of Republican legislative leadership and a total of 67 NRA A-rated Republicans who voted for S.B 7026 earlier this year.

In Congress, it was the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives that added the expansion of the unconstitutional “Fix NICS” language to the omnibus spending bill that was later passed by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

In recent days, it was Republican President Donald Trump’s ATF that finalized and published the new rule banning bump stocks, a rule written so poorly that it is sure to be abused for further gun control expansions by the next anti-gun president elected.

And finally, the White House School Safety Commission just last week recommended federal action on gun confiscation orders.

So much bad news can be crippling, but gun owners must use it to motivate and prepare for the fight ahead. With Congress and state legislatures going back into session in just a matter of days, it is incumbent upon gun rights activists to hold every politicians’ feet to the fire, no matter their party affiliation. Only with constant grassroots activism do we stand a chance in stopping the gun control onslaught forming in 2019.

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.