October 17, 2023
Republican presidential hopefuls’ intent on knocking former President Donald Trump out of his lead position in the polls are presenting themselves as the right candidate to take on Joe Biden – or whomever the Democrats run with – in the 2024 election. Firearms News will be exploring where these contenders stand on the Second Amendment, in both a separate analysis documenting actions, positions, and statements, and via a questionnaire, the subject of this article, designed to produce unequivocal answers.
Will any give them?
Conventional Republican establishment political thought says “No,” that the object is to speak in generalities and try to appeal to everybody without not committing to specifics. Otherwise, it will turn off “moderates” and suburban moms, we’ll be told. If “conservatives” address specifics in no uncertain terms, Democrats will smear them as violent extremists, and they’ll be crucified in the media. Who thinks that’s not in the cards for them anyway, along with every filthy trick in the book? I first designed a questionnaire over a decade ago, one for political candidates and one for NRA Director candidates. Most ignored them, which I reported on, but there were some notable exceptions, including U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle of Nevada, who came out strongly against prior restraint infringements, licensing, and registration, and for “permitless” carry and for the right to own arms suitable to defend from tyranny and invasion.
Tellingly, her opponent, former majority leader Harry Reid, whom NRA’s Wayne LaPierre called “a true champion of the Second Amendment,” ignored the questionnaire and began embracing restrictions. Despite being forced to downgrade Reid’s rating to a “B” and giving Angle an “A,” NRA ducked out of making an endorsement in that race, and the rest is history. Admittedly, with the higher stakes of the presidential race, and with the historic and ongoing tendency of Republicans to make “appealing to the undecided” a bigger priority than unapologetically declaring their principles and them using their bully pulpits to promote them and educate the electorate, chances are no candidate’s campaign team will want them to go on record as real “true champions of the Second Amendment.” Odds are, if they respond to the questionnaire at all, it will be with some general statement of support that avoids the specifics and will still allow for future backsliding on Marco Rubio-style “red flags” and John Cornyn-style “mental health” blanket dragnets.
That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask, and with that in mind, Firearms News is sending the questions to current frontrunner Donald Trump and to the other current candidates. Those qualified to participate in the second debate by meeting fundraising, polling and party “pledge” requirements include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Meeting some, but not all requirements are Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and Radio host Larry Elder.
Not included will be Texas “Republican” Will Hurd, who not only meets none of the requirements, but is running on a “meaningful gun reform” platform. (As this article was being submitted, Hurd dropped out of the race and endorsed Nikki Haley.) With that as backdrop, here are the questions they’ll be sent, along with notice that failure to respond will also be documented:
- What is the intent of the 2nd Amendment?
- Considering the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision acknowledging text, history, and tradition at the time the Constitution was ratified, what gun laws do you consider unconstitutional? What gun laws do you consider constitutional?
- Where do you stand on “red flag laws” and prior restraint/registration-enabling “background checks”?
- What are you prepared to do about ATF effectively turning rules into laws? What are your thoughts on “ghost guns”? Bump stocks? Stabilizing braces? Forced reset triggers?
- Should Congress be able to ban those if ATF can’t?
- What are your thoughts about enacting Militia provisions promised in the Constitution to include regular preparation and training for the general population?
- Do you have a concealed carry permit? Do you support or oppose any licensing requirements to own or carry firearms? Does the right to bear arms include the right for any peaceable citizen to carry them openly or concealed without a permit?
- Do you believe that citizens should have the right to personally own military-grade weapons for defense against a possible future tyrannical government and for event of foreign invasion?
- What types of firearms do you personally own? A) handgun, B) target or hunting rifle, C) shotgun, D) rimfire/.22 LR rifle, E) military-styled semi-auto rifle, F) NFA-classified firearms (machine-gun, short-barreled shotgun short-barreled rifle, AOW, sound suppressor/silencer). List all that apply. If you do not own a military-styled semi-auto rifle which accepts detachable magazines, why is this the case?
- How would you reconcile that with the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1968 Gun Control Act as well as the ban on civilian machinegun ownership in the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act via the Hughes Amendment? Are you in favor of repealing these direct infringements on the Second Amendment? If you are in favor of a partial repeal, please give details.
- Do you agree with “enforce existing gun laws” or “repeal existing gun laws”?
- What specific gun laws will you work to get repealed?
- Do you agree that politicians should be held accountable for immigration actions that undermine the Second Amendment with a “pathway to citizenship” for newcomers who all credible polls and real-world experience show overwhelmingly vote Democrat?
- Do you realize that many European countries allow citizens to own more types of firearms (including semi-auto military-styled rifles, magazines over 10 rounds, etc..) than the states of: CA, OR, WA, IL, MD, NY, NJ, MA, RI, DE, and CT? What is your response to this fact? What would you do as president to discourage states from infringing on the 2nd Amendment? If you would do nothing, please explain your stance.
- If elected, will you back your words of support for firearms rights up with consistent actions? How?
At this writing, various news reports are speculating on Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin entering the race for president. If that happens, he’ll get sent the questions too. Firearms News will follow up on this with a report on which candidates ignored us, which responded, and how they answered.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.