One of the major points of contention in the upcoming election that hits close to home for most of us is Second Amendment rights. Many outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, and gun owners in general feel their right to keep and bear arms could be threatened as a direct result of the next White House resident – and future nominations to the Supreme Court. In order to protect our gun rights, I believe it is imperative that we not only select a candidate whose beliefs align with our own, but also keep in mind what agenda that person’s team is pushing.
While mainstream media has been focused for some time on the views and voting records of the presidential contenders, it is time to explore those new to the ticket, specifically Tim Kaine and Mike Pence.
Kaine’s Gun Record
Democrat Tim Kaine, previously Virginia’s governor and currently a U.S. Senator, was recently announced as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. One of the many things on the potential VP’s resume is gun control. Kaine has pushed hard for tighter gun regulations and has promised that he and Clinton will maintain a unified front on this issue.
Some examples of Kaine’s anti-gun agenda include issuing an executive order expanding mental health reporting associated with firearm purchase background checks in 2007 after the Virginia Tech shooting occurred. Since then, he has continued in this vein, still pushing for background check expansion in private party gun sales, magazine size limits, no fly/no buy legislation, and bringing an end to the so-called Charleston Loophole.
Other Kaine endeavors include participation in a 14-hour Democrat filibuster, supporting the Brady Campaign in a background check expansion bill, and working with current Virginia Governor Terry McAulifee to further regulate guns. Kaine himself has earned the support of groups such as Moms Demand Action, who are eager to see Clinton/Kaine triumph in this election because of the anticipated change that could come as a result. The NRA Political Victory Fund, on the other hand, is not so smitten; they have given Kaine an “F” rating.
Let us not forget, however, that sometimes politicians play to their constituents and act to further their careers as well. For example, Kaine has wavered between what one might interpret as pro-gun, anti-gun, and just plain mum depending on what worked best for him at any given time. He’s also no stranger to firearms himself, having taken time out to shoot clays in the past.
Pence’s Gun Record
Riding alongside Donald Trump on the Republican ticket is former lawmaker and current Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Self-described as a “card-carrying member of the NRA,” Pence has been an ally to gun owners. He is frequently photographed taking part in gun-related activities – like the image at the top of this article – suggesting he is an old hand when it comes to firearms.
When an incident at a National Guard Recruiting Center occurred, Pence not only supported allowing recruiters to carry their own properly permitted concealed weapons, but also coordinated with the NRA to get them the instruction necessary to do so. Additionally, Pence signed Senate Bill 229 into law, allowing legal gun owners to have firearms on school property provided they are properly secured in vehicles.
A shooting sports enthusiast himself, Pence has taken action as far as hunting is concerned, signing legislation allowing Indiana deer hunters to take part in a rifle season. Furthermore, he signed Senate Bill 433, which changed the status of NFA-registered short-barreled shotguns, enabling, ownership, manufacture, and sales in Indiana. Pence voted in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as well, giving protection to gun retailers and manufacturers against liability claims due to product misuse which Hillary Clinton is hoping to repeal.
Though Trump himself has been officially endorsed by the NRA, Pence is also an NRA top pick, earning an “A” rating himself. Considering his open-mindedness to gun related issues and willingness to institute new legislation bolstering the gun-owning community, Pence could prove to be a notable addition to the Republican ticket, as well as quite the adversary to Kaine.
The 2016 presidential race is heating up more and more as each day passes, with gun control taking the spotlight throughout. The recently announced VP candidates are making it even more interesting with their gun views seemingly as different as night and day. With both strong pro and anti-gun contenders and so much support on either side, the outcome of this election could forever change the face of firearms in the United States for not only gun retailers and manufacturers, but also for you and me.
Cast your vote wisely this November.
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