At the Missoulian: This election will determine future of private gun ownership in US

Aug 13, 2020 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott has a piece in today’s. UPDATE: It also appeared in Butte, Montana’s Montana Standard on Friday, August 14, 2020.

This past week, President Trump claimed the election will determine the future of private gun ownership in the United States.

He’s right. And Montana voters’ choice for the U.S. Senate looks set to determine its balance of power. If they gain control, Joe Biden and Senate Democrats promise to eliminate the filibuster, allowing them to pass any legislation they want with a simple majority vote.

But the Senate won’t just determine what gun control legislation gets passed — it will also determine what judges get confirmed.

There are few issues that divide Democrat- and Republican-appointed judges more consistently and completely than gun control. President Trump’s 200 federal judicial confirmations have only just brought the courts into balance, with Democrat-appointees still controlling circuit courts for 24 states plus D.C.

The states Democrats control judicially are ones that they also tend to control legislatively. These circuit courts approve any and all of the regulations they get passed, no matter how flagrantly they infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

Don’t expect the Supreme Court to restrain these courts. All four Democrat appointments claim people don’t have a right to self-defense. Indeed, they have already noted they will vote to overturn the court’s 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald decisions. Those rulings merely ensured the government could not completely ban guns.

Four Republican-appointed justices clearly care about the right to self-defense. But they won’t take up gun control cases for fear Justice John Roberts will side with the liberal justices. He has already done so on religious freedom cases, DACA and Obamacare.

Montana’s two current senators are sharply divided who should be on the courts. Sen. Jon Tester voted for Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, who do not believe there is an individual right to self-defense. He opposed Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who support that right.

Sen. Steve Daines has voted the opposite way.

If Gov. Steve Bullock replaces Daines this November and gives Democrats control of the Senate, that means more judges in the vein of Sotomayor and Kagan.

California shows us what the future of gun ownership can look like. For example, no one has figured out how to meet the state’s requirement for micro-stamping — a technology by which firing pins will supposedly imprint a unique identifying code on each shell casing. Even if someone could implement this expensive technology, a criminal could circumvent it by simply filing down the pin or replacing it. But handguns that don’t meet these impossible regulations will soon be banned. Given the 9th Circuit Court’s liberal bent, unless Trump fills another Supreme Court vacancy, California’s restrictions will likely be upheld.

This year, the Democrat’s convention platform is focused on a radical gun control agenda. It advocates licensing for gun owners, allowing gun makers to be held liable whenever someone uses a gun to commit a crime or cause an accident, and banning some types of semi-automatic guns based on appearance rather than on function. Neither Tester or Bullock have made any public comments opposing this platform.

Bullock attacks “Dark Money groups like the NRA, who are spending millions to try to divide this nation and thwart progress.” but he never criticizes the vastly greater amounts that New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg spends. While the NRA spent $18.9 million on all campaigns in 2018, Michael Bloomberg put up $110 million just for congressional campaigns, even more than that on state legislative races across the country.

Montanans cherish their freedoms. It would be ironic if Montanans provide the deciding votes that kill the Second Amendment and Americans’ right to defend themselves and their families.

John Lott, “This election will determine future of private gun ownership in US,” The Missoulian, August 13, 2020.