April 16, 2018
In an April 11, Washington Times article written by Alex Swoyer, it once again appears that President Trump is going out of his way to return to his former leftist-leaning self. The 9th Circuit Court covers 15 federal districts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, and Washington (state). President Trump's nominee to lead this historically hard-leftist court is the very left-of-center Mark Jeremy Bennett. When the Democrat leadership heard about Trump's pick, they were overjoyed, just as they had been a little over a month ago, when Trump told Democrats not to be afraid of the National Rifle Association, and that they should move forward with gun control. According to the Alliance for Justice, Mr. Bennett's government service consists of nine years as a U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia as well as the District of Hawaii in the same-level position. He later served as attorney general of Hawaii from 2003, until 2010. Bennett seems to have left-leaning views on free speech and gay marriage, but our topic today is gun control. The Alliance for Justice website details Mr. Bennett's close work in the Heller case:
"In 2008, Bennett was one of five state attorneys general supporting the District of Columbia in D.C. v. Heller. Bennett opined that "a decision that the Second Amendment prohibits strict gun-control laws is just wrong." After the Supreme Court decided Heller, Bennett stated that he did not believe the decision would lead to any Hawaii gun laws being struck down."
Sure, Donald, he's your man to "make the Second Amendment great again!" Here is what then-candidate Trump stated in the last presidential debate with Hillary Clinton:
"I feel that the justices that I am going to appoint - and I've named 20 of them - the justices that I'm going to appoint will be pro-life. They will have a conservative bent. They will be protecting the Second Amendment. They are great scholars in all cases, and they're people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that's very, very important."
Mr. Bennett's background is in stark contrast to whom candidate Trump promised to deliver in the form of appointed judges. Later in that debate, Trump went even further:
"We are going to appoint justices - this is the best way to help the Second Amendment. We are going to appoint justices that will feel very strongly about the Second Amendment, that will not do damage to the Second Amendment."
Then-candidate Trump again made it VERY clear that he would only appoint judges that would not do "damage to the Second Amendment," but what does Trump mean by that? We will look at that question in a bit.
Did I mention that Bennett is a Republican? The word "Republican" is getting blurred more and more with the word "Democrat," and as Judge Andrew Napolitano stated many years ago, "they [Republicans and Democrats] are different wings on the same bird." Mr. Bennett is just another RINO (Republican In Name Only) to add to the collection, which recently includes anti-Second-Amendment governors, and NRA A-rated favorites, Rick Scott of Florida and Phil Scott of Vermont. NRA's "pro-gun" rating system for politicians is being discredited more and more as years go on. In many cases, an A-rating from the NRA is in the C+ range at Gun Owners of America.
The NRA has historically backed other Republicans who ran or held presidential office who were anti-Second Amendment. Ronald Reagan banned machine-guns produced after May 19, 1986 from civilian sales, as well as later backing George H.W. Bush's imported "assault weapons" ban in 1989, and the Clinton-driven Brady Bill in 1994, with "hi-cap" magazine ban and domestic "assault weapons" ban, not to mention his anti-gun policies while governor of California, but Reagan is still proudly quoted on the NRA website. Although George H.W. Bush's gun-control efforts were previously mentioned, it must be noted that presidential candidate H.W. Bush proclaimed, "No new gun laws!" during his 1988 campaign. H.W. Bush would also go on to support the Brady Bill along with a domestic "assault weapons" ban and "hi-cap" magazine ban in 1994.
President George W. Bush was another NRA favorite, who stated that he would have no problem signing a permanent domestic "assault weapons" ban if Congress sent it to his desk in 2004, when it expired. During the 2008 Republican debates, when asked about gun ownership, then-Senator John McCain stated something to effect (in a somewhat disgusted tone of voice), "I carried a forty-five in Vietnam, I don't own a gun." Bingo John, you win the NRA endorsement! Not-gun-enthusiast and anti-gun Governor Mitt Romney was the "only hope" for gun owners according to the NRA in 2012. Romney made this seemingly pro-gun statement back then: "I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don't believe that new laws are going to make a difference..." The problem with the statement is two-fold. First, he supports all of the anti-Second Amendment laws made up to that point and second, while governor of Massachusetts, he let gun bans and restrictions pass without any issues from him. Today, we have NRA-endorsed President Trump, so now what?
Sure, Trump Tweeted about Justice Stevens' ultra-leftist remarks about abolishing the Second Amendment:
"THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY. We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!"
But, what did that mean? Trump implied that the Supreme Court needs to be filled with Republicans to ensure that the Second Amendment "WILL NEVER BE REPEALED," but then endorses an attorney to lead the influential 9th Circuit Court who is actively opposed to the Second Amendment? We are to vote for more Republicans in 2018? Like Governors Christie, NRA A-rated Rick Scott of Florida, and NRA A-rated Phil Scott of Vermont, who just signed gun-control bills? Or for spineless Republicans like Senator Marco Rubio, who is considering "assault weapons" and "hi-cap" magazine bans? America just voted NRA-endorsed Republican Donald Trump into office, and he has made a hard turn left with trying to ban bump stocks and initially supporting raising the age to buy rifles and shotguns to 21. Certainly, electing the "Communist Party Lite" Democrats will fully erode liberty in the good ole USA, but how is electing Republicans THE answer for the Second Amendment? As previously stated, gun owners have suffered at the hands of Republican presidents and representatives infringing the Second Amendment for many decades, and I didn't even go back far enough to tell you about President Richard Nixon's desire to ban all handguns.
The past six months of witnessing this turnaround by the president leads to some questions that firearms-rights group leaders need to be asking him directly AND THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE. What does Trump believe the Second Amendment to mean? Is owning a hunting rifle, sporting shotgun, or handgun Second Amendment-enough for him, as "ruled" in some of the horrible firearms-restricting judicial comments within the Heller decision? Maybe that is what Trump is willing to protect, your right to own a target or hunting long gun and a handgun for defense against common criminals - all with a capacity of 10 rounds or less and none in military-style configurations. It seems that he, as well as other "pro-gun" politicians want the intended right of having the ability to defend liberty, freedom, and one's life against a tyrannical or genocidal government to be done away with. Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case regarding the constitutionality of the "assault weapons" ban in Maryland. The Second Amendment "savior" on the bench that Trump appointed, Neil Gorsuch, also agreed with the other judges (according to some news reports), but this is not surprising, as Gorsuch stated during his confirmation hearings that he would rule on the Second Amendment based on the Heller decision.
What about ruling based on the Founding Founder's documents and intent? As stated earlier, Trump promised: "They [judges appointed by him] will interpret the Constitution the way the founders wanted it interpreted. And I believe that's very, very important." The Heller decision commentaries departed from the Founders' intent that citizens own the same weapons as the government to effectively defend themselves from that government if they were being unlawfully oppressed in the cases of tyranny, genocide, etc. The Heller decision basically changed the view of the Second Amendment into a right to protect oneself from just robbers and rapists, so a hunting rifle, shotgun, or handgun (with fewer than 10-rounds capacity) is enough to accomplish that, according to these courts. Again, Trump promised that the judges he would appoint would interpret the way the founders intended, NOT interpret according to case law and comments from activist judges, but make no mistake, that is where we are.
A limited Second Amendment based on new interpretation is seemingly what Trump was in favor of when he wrote the book, The America We Deserve, where he stated that "assault weapons" should be banned, and waiting periods should always be implemented. He also voiced similar anti-Second Amendment views just a couple years before running for office, from what I recall. But, the NRA backed him because he started making statements like, "The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period." (Facebook post May 21st, 2016, as posted on azquotes.com) and, "We will save our Second Amendment, which is totally under siege." (Washington Post, as posted on azquotes.com).
The 2017 NRA convention marked the first time since 1983, that a U.S. president addressed NRA members at their annual event. According to an Associated Press article by Ruth Sherlock dated April 28, 2017, President Trump is quoted as making the following statements:
"The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end."
"I will never ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms."
"You have a true friend and champion in the White House."
"No longer will federal agencies come after law abiding gun owners." and
"No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and freedoms as Americans. We want to assure you of the sacred right of defense for all our citizens."
The states of VT, NJ, NY, CT, CA, MA, IL, MD, RI, and FL all passed gun-control laws in the last six months, and more serious attempts to limit the Second Amendment are on the way in DE, CO, OR, WA, as well as in other states. Now, there is a push to allow local ordinances to ban guns in states where that was forbidden under state pre-emption laws. Notice how there are no Tweets or outrage from Trump about states destroying the Second Amendment? What about the gun owners in these states who will now be facing SWAT teams and years in prison for violating firearms and firearms accessories restrictions and who have absolutely no intent of harming anyone? Doesn't sound like freedom and liberty to me. Trump seems to be AWOL on the 2A.
Trump's gun-control meeting last month with Democrats spoke volumes, as did his comment at that meeting, "Take the guns first, go through due process second." Conservative FOX News host Tucker Carlson stated the following shortly after the president's remarks: "Imagine if Barack Obama had said that. Just ignore due process and confiscating guns? Obama would have been denounced as a dictator."
Back to the president's choice of Mark Jeremy Bennett for the 9th Circuit Court - you know the 9th Circuit Court, which gun owners had hoped would turn right with a Trump presidency because of its past history of ruling against the Second Amendment and other conservative issues? Trump promised to get the "best people," and maybe he did. Maybe President Trump meant he was going to get the "best people" if you were a moderate Republican or a leftist - seems that way. If this is the "tired of winning" that candidate Trump was speaking about during his campaign, those who cherish the Second Amendment are tired of it.
There is no "secret plan" or "secret strategy" or "4D chess" that will "save" the Second Amendment or any of our freedoms for that matter. Many of us heard that all before from Republican "leaders" and their "conservative" talk show hosts, that there was a reason for initial political concessions with the left and that it would all work out in our favor "in time." Never happens. For example, Rush Limbaugh made excuses for George H.W. Bush when he banned imported "assault weapons" in 1989, by stating that the ban would help domestic manufacturers of "assault weapons." The NRA never revoked Bush's membership, and that import ban still stands today AND gun owners have gone to jail for violating what is known as "922(r)" for victimless "crimes" such as installing a folding stock on an imported semi-auto rifle.
One day, real Second Amendment scholars and activists may sit across the table from the current president. I wonder if President Trump would be surprised to hear the words he uttered many times on his TV show to those contestants who performed poorly: "You're fired."