On Tuesday March 26, 2019, the Heartland Institute featured David Keene, Editor at Large of The Washington Times. Mr. Keene also served from 2011 to 2013 as president of the National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest Second Amendment membership organization. There he worked tirelessly to keep the U.S. from adopting further gun control legislation. Keene’s topic for the evening? “Ceasefire in the War on Guns is Over.”
Mr. Keene didn’t disappoint in explaining to a full house in Heartland’s state-of-the-art Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center what gun owners can expect from Washington, D.C., the states and the courts as progressive Democrats and their funders launch the biggest, most coordinated and well financed attack on the Second Amendment ever.
David Keene speaks
Director of Communications at The heartland Institute, Jim Lakely, introduced David Keene as a “Titan of the Conservative movement.”
David Keene, in turn, applauded Heartland for its work on Climate Change, further recognizing Heartland’s awareness early on that most of the action is in the states. Keene, in jesting about AOC’s Green New Deal, spoke of his eagerness to drive to Europe and of the shovel ready jobs that would incur in building the bridge.
Turning serious, Keene spoke of the late Warren Brookes who described the environment movement as “green on the outside but red on the inside.” Keene attributed the change of attitude among Democrats — which permitted the Party to morph into one that has moved far to the left — to why the ceasefire on guns ended to be replaced by the war on guns. In describing the belief system of today’s Democrats, Keene painted them as unable to accept failure with the election of President Trump or to imagine there are people who don’t believe as they do. Accordingly, all American voters must feel the same anger toward Trump as Democrats do. Trump will be sent packing in 2020, they believe. For this reason, it won’t matter which candidate is selected to challenge Trump, giving candidates the liberty to go out and say what they really think and believe.
War on guns
Keene explained how prior to 1960 there was no war on guns. The Founders knew what they were doing when they wrote the 2nd amendment, with both parties in agreement that individuals and families had a right to defend themselves.
It was in the ’60’s when change began to take place in both parties. In the newly emerging Democrat Party a two-front culture war arose targeting abortion and guns. The gun issue continues today.
Over the past 40 years–much like in the anti-nuke movement–there are those who have come to view the anti-gun movement as a quasi-religious movement, believing that if only the U.S. would disarm unilaterally the world would live in peace. Our nation is the only country who recognizes the right to self-defense. The U.N. does not. Today hostility toward guns has become far more than just guns in themselves. Democrats also dislike the 2nd amendment because of its hostility toward the government, especially in the way it limits government.
One reason gun laws weren’t legislated over the ensuing years is because evidence was considered in Congressional gun law debates. Through the persuasion of argument those who wanted gun laws, despite cries to do something, were convinced that doing something would stop nothing, but would instead create a backlash; therefore, when push came to shove gun laws failed.
Guns, however, did play an important part in the 2000 election. Gore supposedly lost 6 states when guns became an issue, prompting Democrats to back off from their war on guns. Hillary likewise had a gun issue in the 2016 presidential election, brought about when during a debate she indicated favoring a Supreme Court which upholds her liberal legislation. As Keene surmised, didn’t Democrats realize with Hillary’s defeat that perhaps the 2nd amendment was a third rail that shouldn’t be touched, further considering how crime and homicides are down despite an increase in gun ownership? As Keene related: “There is no relationship to firearms and the number of crimes, homicides and mass shootings. More mass shooting occurred in the ’90’s.”
Failed gun control bills
Two major gun control bills did manage to pass the U.S. House:
- Universal background checks (defeated under the Obama administration in April of 2013. It will never become law).
- Charlottesville loophole fix (if passed the three-day waiting period would extend to a month).
As Keene stated: “At least until 2020 we have a Senate favorable to the Second Amendment and a president who would veto any action if the Senate buckled…. Action against the 2nd amendment is no longer in Washington D.C. but now in the states and cities, as they pass their own gun laws.
As to the next battle, Keene cited the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court grants 2nd amendment rights
The reluctance to pass any major gun legislation rests on two Supreme Court cases which created an atmosphere of reluctance to do so.
The District of Columbia v. Heller landmark case of 2008 held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected with service in a militia. The McDonald v. City of Chicago decision 2010 also upheld citizens’ right to own guns.
Both were 5-4 decisions with Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. Both cases confirmed that the 2nd amendment meant what it said.
What about the Circuit Courts? Democrats are finding that circuit courts are not going along with their progressive agenda. A recent case was cited by Keene in which a Federal New York Court found a ban on stun guns unconstitutional. But even if gun cases should reach the Supreme Court, Democrats realize the present makeup of the Supreme Court will likely strike down some of the action that has been taking place where gun laws are being proposed at the state level and in the cities. Even if Mayor Bloomberg spends billions of dollars to pass gun law restrictions, Democrats will lose.
Supreme Court as bulwark for Democrats
For Democrats, the Supreme Court remains the bulwark to overcome. Five Democrat presidential candidates have suggested that the Supreme Count needs to be packed from 9 to 11 justices to make sure Democrats have the votes to reverse what has already been struck down. This might sound insane, but should Democrats win either the presidency or the Senate in 2020 they can stack the court. Our nation’s Constitution doesn’t stipulate how many justices should serve on the SCOTUS.
Democrats also want to get rid of the Electoral College, which tells what the elites think of regular Americans who live outside their progressive enclaves and how they view this nation’s Constitution. Recently Maryland signed on to the Compact of States, an agreement by states to do away with the Electoral College once enough states sign on with a combined electoral vote of 270 out of 538 Electoral votes.
The next two years
What about the next two years? Said Keene, “The real action will be in the states, cities and counties. As to politics, “Politics is not about money and made up facts. Most politicians want to hold on to their jobs.” In a rallying cry Keene called on attendees to stand up and let your politicians know what you want. “You do this, or if you don’t do this, you’re gone.” Phone calls at the state and local levels do make a difference.