By: Kimberley A. Strassel – wsj.com –
Democrats insist there’s no more urgent job than ensuring Donald Trump is a one-term president. Which is odd, given how hard they are simultaneously working to alienate the voters they most need to make that happen. See this week’s debate on gun control.
The weekend’s shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, inspired the entire liberal-media complex to chant “gun control,” reflexively and predictably. A favorite demand is to expand background checks—never mind that these mass shooters, and those of recent years, bought their guns legally and therefore passed such checks. Another is an “assault weapons” ban—never mind that “assault” weapons function in the same way as tens of millions of other semi-automatic rifles that would remain in circulation.
But the Democratic presidential candidates went further. It is not enough, they insisted, to expand background checks or limit types of firearms going forward. What is needed is to take guns away and to make it harder for law-abiding Americans to own them. They at least get credit for being more honest about the left’s gun intentions.
Texas’ former Rep. Beto O’Rourke said he is now “open” to a “mandatory” government gun-buying program—a polite way to describe confiscation of entire classes of firearms. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker highlighted his plan to require every American to obtain a federal “license” to purchase a firearm. Responsible gun owners would have to submit fingerprints, pass an interview, and take safety courses to obtain even a .22-caliber long rifle. And they’d have to repeat the process every five years.
California Sen. Kamala Harris has vowed to ignore Congress and impose gun regulations via executive action. She’d ban certain firearm imports and sue gun manufacturers for “negligence,” among other things. As for former Vice President Joe Biden, CNN asked him if gun owners should worry that a Biden administration “is going to come for my guns.” He answered: “Bingo. You’re right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period.”
The media is cheering all this on, as well as highlighting polls that claim majorities of Americans support this or that gun-control proposal. But polls are quick snapshots of tiny pools of Americans, often answering vaguely worded policy questions. This is a shoddy, and politically dangerous, way of measuring attitudes on a subject voters take seriously.
Especially for Democrats, who spent much of 2017 lamenting their failure to connect with white working-class Americans, many of whom live in rural areas. These are the coal and oil workers they are now promising to put out of jobs with their climate plans; the union members and housewives they label as “white supremacists.” And they are gun owners who, unlike most journalists, deeply understand firearms and view these proposals as a threat.
The Pew Research Center’s 2017 study of the “demographics of gun ownership” found that 42% of American adults live in a household with a firearm. Some 58% of rural Americans live in a gun household, as do 48% of independents and 41% of suburbanites. Forty-eight percent of white men personally own a gun. A quarter of self-identified Democrats live in a gun household—many in those rural and suburban areas of Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where Hillary Clinton lost and the Democratic nominee will desperately need to win in 2020.
Just as striking are gun owners’ attitudes about their Second Amendment rights. Nearly three-quarters of the Americans who currently own a gun say they “can’t see themselves ever not owning one.” Pew reports that “for today’s gun owners, the right to own guns nearly rivals other rights laid out in the U.S. Constitution”—including “freedom of speech, the right to vote, the right to privacy, and freedom of religion.” It notes that “about three-quarters of gun owners (74%) say this right is essential to their own sense of freedom.”
Presumably none of the Democratic candidates is foolhardy enough to call for bans on voting or going to church. Yet millions of Americans—including independents and Democrats—will see their gun-ban and licensing proposals as the equivalent. This isn’t your usual debate over tax rates or health-care providers; these proposals are deal breakers. That Democrats don’t realize this is a function of a striking party and media insularity from “flyover” America.
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