An alarming trend is rearing its ugly head as we are seeing increasing attempts at state-level aimed firearms bans and confiscations, as well as renewal of previous gun-control attempts. We are investigating how this, the influence of recent massacres, and the possibility that the president's action could have been a catalyst to set in motion a new wave of state-level gun control.
Firearms-owning and liberty-minded citizens in a number of states are now back on the defensive against renewed attempts to infringe upon their firearms civil rights. Adding to this is the highly publicized gun-control rally on March 24. Despite the vastly exaggerated claims about the size of the event and its true nature, the deceptively named and hyper-partisan "March For Our Lives" undoubtedly will influence some hearts and minds due to its oversaturation in the mainstream media. All of this in response to the two most recent mass shootings, the Las Vegas massacre of October 1, 2017, and the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. As we all well know, in addition to their ongoing efforts to chip away at our civil rights, the leftists/democrat party and their allies elsewhere in the establishment exploit periodic tragedies as a matter of standard practice. They are now invigorated like never before. Considering that these most recent tragedies were the highest fatalities for a mass shooting and second highest for a school shooting in U.S. history, the anti-gun forces see this as a golden opportunity to push their agenda like never before, despicable and unscrupulous as ever.
But, adding to this gun-control maelstrom is a chain of events in recent months that we have been tracking. This includes how the president has influenced the situation and a series of strong statements, proposals, reversals, and changes of venue for what and by whom any new firearms related legislation would be pursued. Gun owners across the country are alarmed.
Firstly, within hours of the Las Vegas shooting, it was pretty clear that new control would be pursued by the Trump Administration. Less than ten months earlier, both the White House and Congress rolled back some Obama-era restrictions on firearms purchases. However, beginning with the televised February 28 White House bipartisan roundtable with lawmakers, President Trump began to make some surprising (and even shocking) statements regarding a willingness to accept certain new gun control measures, as well as some mocking of certain lawmakers for being "afraid" or "petrified" of the NRA. Following the meeting, he met with the NRA leadership for a second time that week on March 1, then announcing three minutes after NRA-ILA's Chris Cox did so on twitter: "Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!"
While this was going on, the first major "post-massacre" gun control was on its way to becoming law. The knee-jerk reaction and a rush to "do something" resulted in a major setback for gun rights in Florida when Governor Scott signed into law, on March 9, a ban on "bump-stocks," firearm purchasing age-hike to 21, as well as other infringing aspects of the law. Anyone seeing the intent and letter of that law can see the hand of democrat party anti-gun groups in its crafting throughout that process. The NRA immediately challenged some parts of the law in court beginning the same day.
Then, on March 11, following the combination of the school shooting in Florida three weeks earlier, the White House roundtable, and the private meetings with the NRA, the White House rolled out its set of proposals, which were devoid of most of what the president had stated at the roundtable would be under consideration. Much in that list of White House proposals was what the NRA has been lobbying for, some that his base has wanted, and much looking nothing like what he had stated at the roundtable. Once again, many on all sides were stunned or at least confused by the shift in direction. Interestingly, the new Florida law contained several of the provisions that the president had initially stated that he would consider, but then backed away from.
Next in this chain of events came very early the next morning, via twitter. Perhaps the most significant communiqué yet was the president signaling that certain proposals discussed at the roundtable he would not take action on, leaving it to the states to decide for themselves. He had stated after his proposals were revealed the day before that he did not think that Congress would be able to come to agreement on changing the law for the minimum age to buy a firearm, via this telltale tweet: "....On 18 to 21 Age Limits, watching court cases and rulings before acting. States are making this decision. Things are moving rapidly on this, but not much political support (to put it mildly)."
Was this a "punt" or handoff to the states? Has this shift away from federal action served as the "launch code" for anti-gunners at the state level to launch a renewed quest for gun control? If so, we are already seeing the ugly ramifications of this. Several states have elements within them moving to enact more gun control, much of which is from the same template and specifics attempted elsewhere for years and/or that were once part of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in September 2004. How alarming is this?
So, how do the president's most recent actions square with his campaign promises, his stated intentions, and his professed allegiance to gun owners?
On the one hand, consider that he has verbally come out stronger than any president in memory on behalf of the Second Amendment, self-defense, and other firearms civil liberties. On his 99th day in office, President Trump stated to the NRA, "Let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience. As your president, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never, ever. Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God." He states that he owns and has carried a self-defense handgun as well as has had a concealed carry permit in New York City for many years.
But, does he have latent roots and some pre-politician inclinations towards accepting some gun control, as reflected in his older positions or statements, that make him amenable to some of this crafty PR-firm phrased "common sense gun control" and more recent knee-jerk reactions manifesting as ludicrous, implausible schemes? Have the Democrats found some "chink in his armor" or otherwise manipulated the president on some vulnerability or being open to certain gun-control measures? The close proximity of notorious anti-gunner and hard leftist Dianne Feinstein to the president at the roundtable made many of us very uncomfortable, wondering "why was she even allowed in that meeting?" Her reaction was obviously gleeful in response to his telling them to add her previous gun-control inputs to a new bill. Why would such a staunch defender of the Second Amendment permit one of its enemies to have any input at all about firearms freedoms? Some are now asking: is the president truly a defender of the Second Amendment and firearms-related civil rights?
Or, does he have a yet-to-be-disclosed clever plan? Could this be strategic maneuvering, considering his decades of mastery as a deal maker? Has the NRA, who apparently has his ear and whose senior leadership met with him before and then three days after his February White House roundtable, been giving him strategic advice or specific suggestions on acceptable compromises? What we do know is that we once again have our rights under assault, and must react yet again to the onslaught of the anti-gun leftists, which includes a new wave of state level campaigns to further restrict and even eliminate firearms ownership. Has a "green light" been given that sets in motion more robust assaults on firearms civil rights at the state level? Will the federal government turn a blind eye to a federal civil right to be infringed upon even more at the state level?
Whatever the case, despite the previous and very strong declarations by the president in defense of firearms freedoms and the Second Amendment, American firearms owners should realize that this is not the time to let our guard down or assume that we are safe from the maniacal gun-grabbing ploys of the leftists. That could be catastrophic. Now is the time for even more vigilance and fighting the good fight for our civil liberties without relent.
Note: In Part 2 and future installments, we will continue our investigation both by state break-down and how it correlates to any signals or hand-off at the federal level.
Having written previously in Firearms News and in our special editions of Be Ready! magazine, John Peterson is a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and professional instructor. He was a full-time instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy and Sig Sauer Academy for three years each, followed by a tour in the war zone as a Special Forces soldier, then at the Department of Homeland Security before becoming a contractor supporting the war effort, some of that overseas. Before all of this, he was a private investigator and served in the U.S. Army's Infantry under President Reagan. He has taught over 60 types of courses and at 56 conferences to date, mostly in firearms, as well as tactics, driving, antiterrorism, intelligence, and surveillance. He was heavily involved in the sniper community for over a decade. He is now Chairman of a developing patriotic organization, www.americanpreservationalliance.org. As an ardent defender and absolutist of the Second Amendment and a combat veteran, he is a life member of the NRA, Second Amendment Foundation, GOAL of Massachusetts, Gun Owners of New Hampshire, IACSP, Special Forces Association, Special Operations Association, and the VFW, as well as a member of the American Conservative Union, Heritage Foundation, USCCA, ITOA, NTOA, and several instructor and security associations. Find him at @jtfpeterson on Twitter / Instagram / Ricochet / Gab / AR15.com