Election 2020

State-Level Gun Restrictions: Get Ready for a Conservative Wave In 2020 Elections

Gun rights activists rally in New Hampshire in March 2019. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Morin.

Part One of this series examined the backlash caused by gun-grabbing legislation in Virginia, and how it will affect the next election cycle. This installment will examine similar effects in other states, and make the case that the Second Amendment will stay at the forefront of important issues driving voters to the polls. Democrats at the state level all over America should think long and hard about how their overreach on Second Amendment issues will affect their reelection campaigns.

Connecticut

The State of Connecticut passed the first “red flag law” in the nation in 1999, which allows a judge to order guns to be confiscated if a prosecutor can prove that an individual poses a threat to himself or others. Now, a Democratic lawmaker is proposing to expand that prosecutor’s power to the subject’s relatives or medical professionals. Gun rights groups oppose the bill on due process grounds. They note police would not be required to conduct an investigation before the expanded list of reporters appeals to a judge for the removal of guns. This could potentially motivate gun owners to vote for their self-interest in 2020.

Colorado

In April 2019, the Colorado legislature passed a red flag law of their own. Fox News reports:

Colorado became the 15th state on Friday to adopt a “red flag” gun law, allowing firearms to be seized from people determined to pose a danger — just weeks after dozens of county sheriffs had vowed not to enforce the law, with some local leaders establishing what they called Second Amendment “sanctuary counties.”

The law didn’t receive a single Republican vote in the state legislature, and has led to renewed efforts from gun-rights activists to recall Democrats who supported the measure. In a fiery and lengthy statement on Facebook on Friday, Eagle County, Colo., Sheriff James van Beek slammed the law as a well-intentioned but “ludicrous” throwback to the 2002 film “Minority Report,” and outlined a slew of objections from law enforcement.

Van Beek charged that the law treats accused gun owners like “criminals,” discourages individuals from seeking mental health treatment, and ignores the reality that “a disturbed mind will not be deterred by the removal of their guns.”

The new law led to attempted recalls of legislators who backed the bill, and about half of Colorado’s 64 counties passed Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinances (SASOs). Turns out Coloradans don’t appreciate a denial of constitutionally protected due process rights. Sensing a theme yet?

Arizona

Proposed “assault” rifle bans have caused gun rights organizations in Arizona to become more proactive. AZCentral reports, “Multiple Arizona cities and counties have passed or are considering resolutions deeming themselves ‘Second Amendment sanctuaries’, and a Facebook group for Arizonans against the bills was created …. and grew to more than 50,000 members” within a few days. Though the bills did not advance in the Republican-controlled legislature, a new bill would allow citizens harmed by gun violence to sue the municipality if the crime occurs in gun-free zones created by that jurisdiction.

Oregon

Oregon Democrats won supermajorities – 60% advantages over Republicans – in both the House and Senate in the 2018 elections. With those supermajorities, they could theoretically pass anything they wished, with no resistance available from the Republicans. They had a sweeping progressive agenda that included cap and trade, billions in new taxes, a massive expansion of mandatory vaccinations for school children, and massive new restrictions on gun rights.

A 2A rally in March 2019 drew over 3,000 attendees to Salem, and Senate Republicans executed their first of four walkouts soon after to deny quorum and halt the business of the legislature. They did this after the Democrats shut them out of the bill crafting process and refused to consider any amendments to bills they considered important, including the gun bills. The Republicans agreed to return from that first walkout after the Democrats dropped the vaccine and gun bills. In the 2020 short session, Democrats were unsuccessful in getting any legislation passed after the Republicans walked out again.

The backlash against the gun bills, along with medical freedom groups and large groups of rural Oregon voters in timber and agriculture, has created a groundswell of grassroots energy that has fueled another recall attempt by the Oregon Republican Party against Governor Kate Brown, and a fresh crop of new candidates to try to wrest back control of the House and Senate for the Republicans. Meanwhile, 16 of Oregon’s 36 counties have passed SASOs or Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances (SAPOs).

New Hampshire

My friend Kimberly Morin, a blogger in New Hampshire, reported in 2019,

In reviewing the expenditures of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, it is remarkable to see how much of an interest Bloomberg has taken in one of the safest states in the country.

The money Bloomberg spent on elections via Everytown does not include the hundreds of thousands he’s spending on lobbying efforts. This is separate spending. But what’s a few hundred thousand dollars to a billionaire hell bent on taking the fundamental human right of self-defense away from Granite Staters via politicians he buys into office.

In response, gun rights activists rallied at the Capitol and testified against the proposed bills, prominently displaying pearl necklaces in a sign of defiance that rankled the likes of Shannon Watts and other Bloomberg-backed gun control activists. Despite these protests, observers expect red flag bills to hit Gov. John Sununu’s desk soon. He will most likely veto those bills, but activists will make sure to remind voters in 2020 the Democrats went so far as to propose a bill to fully repeal New Hampshire’s constitutional right to bear arms.

New Jersey

In response to new “high-capacity” magazine bans passed in 2018, several county sheriff’s offices and municipal police jurisdictions announced their plans not to enforce the law. In addition, according to Tom Knighton at our sister site Bearing Arms, many gun owners defied the ban and refused to comply:

Instead, they’re being held onto, probably in hopes that this stupid law will soon be overturned. After all, the right to keep and bear arms is supposed to be uninfringeable, yet New Jersey doesn’t seem to understand what the word “infringe” means. Or, more accurately, the state doesn’t care. A good slam from the Supreme Court would be beneficial.

Or, the magazines are being held onto because it’s better to be tried by 12 than carried by six.

Several counties have passed SASOs or resolutions affirming support for the Second Amendment, in further defiance of state government officials who insist that local sheriffs must apply state law, even if it violates the constitution. Cam Edwards writes,

NJ Advance Media’s Rob Jennings recently wrote that, despite the symbolic nature of the resolutions, “the large crowds at public meetings and lengthy debates can make it look like something big is happening.”

Georgia

In a reversal of the trend towards more draconian infringements on Second Amendment rights, a Senator in Georgia has introduced a bill to loosen restrictions on when someone can pull their gun out in self-defense:

Georgia senators are pursuing a bill that would make it legal to brandish a gun during a dispute.

The bill put forth by state Sen. Tyler Harper …. would allow residents to pull a gun if they feel threatened, so long as they don’t aim it at anybody.

“My argument is: just because I have a weapon on my person and I show that weapon, I should not be charged with a felony — a 20-year felony — for simply brandishing my firearm in my attempt to de-escalate what I consider a situation where I felt threatened,” Harper said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Harper’s bill calls for a number of other changes to Georgia gun laws, including permitting firearms to be carried in places of worship and courts that aren’t holding judicial proceedings.

Michigan

In another attempt to loosen restrictions on gun rights, a state rep in Michigan has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for any municipality in the state to conduct a buyback or confiscation program:

House Bill 5479, sponsored by Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, would ban local governments and law enforcement from conducting gun buyback or takeback programs that offer residents compensation for their unwanted firearms. Local law enforcement would still be able to accept and dispose of firearms dropped off voluntarily.

Speaking in support of her bill on the House floor Wednesday, Glenn said it’s not the place of local governments to be buying firearms from residents – she said the buybacks unfairly compete with gun businesses and waste taxpayer dollars.

It remains clear that the tug of war over the right to bear arms will continue at all levels of government. The Second Amendment will stay at the forefront of issues that will drive voters to the polls in 2020, and gun rights supporters will likely turn out in larger numbers than those in favor of gun restrictions.

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.