We’re only days away from electing a new president and vice president, 34 United States senators, and a whopping 435 congressmen (that’s all of them). If you’re keeping count, we’re voting on whether to keep or toss 471 people, and that’s not counting the thousands of state and local elected officials on the ballots.
How on earth does one discern whether all of these folks will really do what they say they’re going to do? After all, they are by their very nature professional people-pleasers. One way is to consider their past actions. Actions do generally speak louder than words, especially in politics.
The expectation of politicians actually fulfilling campaign promises is so low that we don’t even bat an eyebrow anymore over the vast majority of election-year pledges. We just know that most political promises won’t be kept.
That said, there is one exception to the campaign promises rule: gun rights politics. Almost all politicians claim to support gun rights, because if they don’t, an irritated public will kick them out of their fashionable Congressional offices. So if a politician openly advocates adding more restriction to gun rights, then you can probably believe them. There’s just never been a political benefit, at least on most state and national level stages, to taking aggressive gun control positions.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the words and actions from the two people most likely to be elected President of the United States in November.
Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for a long time, so as much as she might like to deny her past actions, many of her positions and actions are on public record. Interestingly, her public positions have swung back, forth, and back again, right along with the political winds and her current election desires.
During the 1990s, Clinton was an open advocate for aggressive gun control measures, supporting measures such as a 25 percent tax on handguns, and big fees to prospective gun dealers. In 2000, she supported legislation introduced by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer requiring full licensing and registration for handguns. “I stand in support of this common-sense legislation to license everyone who wishes to purchase a gun. I also believe that every new handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry, such as Chuck is proposing.”
When running for President in 2008, she swayed her public comments back into the realm of support for Second Amendment issues. “What might work in New York City is certainly not going to work in Montana. So, for the federal government to be having any kind of blanket rules that they’re going to try to impose, I think doesn’t make sense.”
Now in 2016, she’s gone into a full frontal assault, openly advocating against gun rights. Here’s what she’s had to say.
Hillary Clinton on the Second Amendment as a Constitutional right:
When asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos whether she believes that an individual’s right to own and bear arms is a constitutional right: “If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulation.”
Hillary Clinton on her running mate’s record:
“Behind that smile, Tim also has a backbone of steel. Just ask the NRA.” That statement arises from an NRA “F” rating for vice president candidate Tim Kaine based on his voting record on gun rights during his tenure as governor and U.S. senator from Virginia.
Hillary Clinton on the Supreme Court:
“The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.”
From all indications, it appears that Trump’s sons have played an important role in his beliefs about gun rights. In a recent interview with the NRA, Trump explained his position:
“Over the past 15 years I’ve learned a great deal about how we can protect the good people of this country from those who mean to do us harm. Gun control is not the answer—protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens is the answer. Furthermore, gun bans don’t work. Studies were done after the 1994 ‘assault weapons’ ban expired. They clearly showed that the ban didn’t protect anyone, didn’t reduce crime. It just made it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves with the firearm of their choice. Like with all things, I believe in what works, and gun bans don’t work. I have two sons who don’t just believe in the Second Amendment, they live it. They hunt, target shoot, shoot competitively and carry firearms for personal protection. They’re NRA members, and so am I. I also have a concealed-carry permit. Our commitment to the Second Amendment is unshakable.”
We’ve got an important election coming up soon, so here are a few of Trump’s comments, in his own words. You can make your own decision about whether Trump or Clinton are mostly likely to defend your gun rights.
Donald Trump on the Second Amendment:
“Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment. Just remember that. We’re not talking about changing it. She wants to abolish the Second Amendment. We’re not gonna let that happen, I can tell you that right now. We’re going to preserve it. We’re going to cherish it. We’re going to take care of it.”
Donald Trump on terrorism and self-defense:
“We talk about Paris or we talk about San Bernardino, and nobody there had guns. Paris is probably the toughest place in the world to have a gun, France in general, but Paris in particular. If you look at Paris, 130 people [were] killed and hundreds of people [are] still in the hospital horribly wounded. They’ll never be the same – and these guys just came in and stood there and shot everybody. No guns on the other side. If a couple of people had guns, like a couple of the folks in here, I promise there wouldn’t have been 130 people killed and hundreds of people lying in the hospital to this day. It might not have happened. If they knew there were guns in the room, it might not have happened. But if it did, you would have had bullets going in the opposite direction and, believe me, the carnage would not have been the same.”
Donald Trump on gun-free zones:
“Gun free zones – we’re getting rid of them.”
Donald Trump on Hillary Clinton’s position on gun rights:
“The Second Amendment is under threat like never before. Crooked Hillary Clinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment candidate ever to run for office.”
Donald Trump on the Supreme Court:
“We’re going in with one opening. You’ll probably have three, possibly four, it could even be five judges, and we’re talking about a 4-year period, although we’re planning to be there for 8 years.”
“If Hillary gets to appoint her judges, she will, I believe, abolish the Second Amendment.”
Donald Trump on crime:
“Hillary wants to disarm vulnerable Americans in high crime neighborhoods, whether it’s a young single mom in Florida or a grandmother in Ohio, Hillary wants them defenseless. She wants to take away any chance they have of survival.”
“Americans use guns to protect against violent crime more than a million times a year, and they want to take guns away. Heartless hypocrites like the Clintons want to take them away, yet they have bodyguards that have guns. So I think that in addition to calling for them to name judges well also call for them to let their bodyguards immediately disarm. They should immediately disarm. Let’s see how they do. Let see how they feel walking around.”
Donald Trump on concealed carry:
“There are 13 million concealed carry holders in the United States – I happen to be one of them. These are among the most law-abiding folks statistically. In fact, they’re like at the top of the list. In Florida for example, they’ve issued more than three million concealed carry permits in the past 30 years. Only 168 have been revoked. That’s .006 percent. There’s very little difficulty. Hillary wants to go in the opposite direction. She says that President Obama didn’t go far enough with his Executive Orders. He’s gone too far. We’re going to stop it. We’re going to un-sign those orders. They’re going to be un-signed so fast. They’ll be un-signed the first hour I’m in office. The first hour.”
If you care about gun rights, the ball is in your court. Run, don’t walk, to your polling place on November 8, 2016. If you’re going to be out of town, then get an absentee ballot. Whatever you do, and however you have to do it, vote.
Images from candidates' Facebook pages