January 12, 2017
Washington Post Misses the Mark: Gun Control was No Win for Democrats in 2016
The Washington Post’s recent choice to list “gun control” among state political battles won by Democrats in 2016 is laughable — and completely off the mark. States like Nevada and California have been in the news lately for gun control ballot measures, but, as always, it is important not to confuse activity for achievement.
The Nevada Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, also known as Question 1, and its $19.7 million campaign was funded almost entirely by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While the measure was eventually approved, it was by a margin of 1 percent, less than 10,000 votes (558,586 to 548,685), and it lost in every county except for Clark.
Even this thin victory was short-lived, however, as Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt called the new law “unenforceable” due to the fact that the federal government has refused to process the expanded checks directly, and the Nevada DPS is specifically not authorized by the language of the law to run the checks itself. Proponents of the measure thought themselves clever for circumventing the state “point-of-contact” system for conducting NICS checks, in order to prevent the measure from having a budget impact. The measure specifically mandated that checks would have to be run through the FBI’s “free” system. But the FBI was unimpressed, and officially declined the opportunity to serve Bloomberg’s gun control agenda.
Bloomberg’s minions accomplished even less in Maine. Maine’s Question 3 was similar to Nevada’s in mandating background checks for private sales. But the measure went even further by invoking an overly broad definition of “transfers,” essentially requiring background checks to even simply borrow a gun. Thankfully, voters in the Pine Tree state rejected the ballot measure, despite Bloomberg pumping millions of dollars into that contest.
California’s anti-gun politics were particularly tangled, with gubernatorial hopeful Gavin Newsom sponsoring a wide-ranging ballot measure encompassing several new restrictions — none more ridiculous and punitive than a law that will require a background check for ammunition purchases. But Newsom’s detractors in the legislature decided to steal his thunder, passing the same restrictions into law well before the ballot measure reached the voters. Oblivious to their irrelevance, California voters approved the measure nonetheless, but the outcome changed nothing.
Meanwhile, while California and other states like it have been busy enacting a regulatory mess of counterproductive gun control laws in 2016, gun sales as measured by NICS numbers, experienced their highest yearly total in history. In Congress, the outlook for anti-gun initiatives is bleak. In mid-2016, the Senate rejected a swath of gun control measures by a healthy margin — an outcome that won’t change despite millions of dollars in attacks on Republican office holders from gun-control advocates during the 2016 election cycle.
And finally, don’t forget the new Administration. In a Trump Presidency, it appears that new gun-control policies will emerge from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. President-Elect Trump has affirmed his commitment to gun rights time and time again. His commitment has been underscored by his nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Next up will be a pro-Second Amendment Supreme Court nominee.
With failing gun-control momentum in most states, a strong pro-gun majority in the House and Senate, and a proven protector of the Second Amendment in the White House, it would seem that gun rights are mostly secure for the next two years, at least.
Sorry, Washington Post, but it looks like “gun-control” should be moved to the “L” column.