Donald J Trump Is President, And What It Means For Gun Owners

The .45 ACP is an All-American Caliber for this All-American Day. I try to post all-original content and I have never taken a photo of Donald Trump, so....

A few short hours ago, Donald John Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Surrounded by his wife, Melania, and children, Ivanka, Eric, Donald Jr, Tiffany, and Barron, he placed his hand on both his childhood Bible and the Lincoln Bible, and took the oath of office as delivered by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts.

Despite massive doubts about his electability, with the traditional media bodies declaring “meltdown” at every turn, the Donald beat the odds and was not only elected in November, but survived (admittedly flaccid) attempts by his rivals to disrupt the electoral process, even into the hours prior to his inauguration, with some calling for martial law to be imposed.

Histrionics aside, he’s the President of our great nation, and we’re stuck with him whether we like him or not.

But I thought gun owners universally adored Trump?

Well, for the most part, this is true. Though ‘adore’ might be too strong of a word. Back during the last NRA Annual Meeting, Donald Trump received the endorsement of the world’s largest firearms advocacy group, thereby guaranteeing millions of votes. And this was even before the Republican National Convention, so more ardent Second Amendment supporters such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul (admittedly my personal choice) were still technically in the running. However, the NRA decided early on that only Trump had the popularity to take on the Clinton machine (the DNC hadn’t happened yet either, but let’s be honest, even then everyone knew she was going to get the nod…), which was rabidly against the Second Amendment.

Trump was a candidate of last resort for the Republican Party. Cruz only polled well in his home state and areas of the South. Rand Paul only polled well amongst Constitutional conservatives and more mainstream Libertarians, and the other Republicans didn’t amount to much. The numbers were being run, and it appeared Trump would clinch the Republican nod, which he did by default, even before the convention.

Historically, Donald Trump’s ideologies have shifted. He’s been registered as a Democrat, an independent, and a Republican throughout his adult life. His only real constant has been business. Up until recently he even donated money to his rival, Hillary Clinton. His record on the Second Amendment reflected this, as in the past he supported expanded background checks, and a continuation of the failed Assault Weapons Ban. Both issues which do not sit well with gun owners.

Hence, the lack of “adoration”. I know a lot of gun owners. Republicans, Libertarians, even a few Democrats. They have their political preferences, but one unifying force was the Second Amendment. Whether Trump evolved on the issue or not remains to be seen, but one of his campaign promises was to defend the Second. He garnered a lot of votes based on this promise, and even caused some defections from the Democratic Party, as gun-owning Democrats were sick of the continuing restrictions proposed by their team.

In a flip on the old adage, better the devil you don’t know. Trump nominally supports the Second Amendment, and has promised to sign pro-2A legislation that reaches his desk. Whether he’ll help push bills through Congress remains to be seen. The danger with Trump is that he’s a businessman through and through. If he sees his numbers taking a hit because he supports the Second, he may reconsider, especially as 2020 closes in. We just don’t know how deep his support runs.

Clinton was the devil we knew, and that devil out and out promised to curtail firearms rights in this country. Reinstitute the AWB, universal background checks, and nods towards considering an Australian-style roundup were hallmarks of her opinions on guns. Whether she would have been able to pull it off was the big unknown. If the election were a Democratic rout, anti-gun bills would have sailed through Congress, and a progressive Supreme Court would have backed them up. If the government remained as-is with a conservative legislature and a liberal executive, it is entirely possible Clinton would have attempted to use executive orders to implement drastic gun control, regardless of legality. Or nothing could have happened.

Trump is a big risk for gun owners. He talks the talk, and walks the walk, but we must be cautious and hold him accountable to his campaign promises.

What we can do to keep Trump accountable

Gun owners are amongst the most politically-motivated citizens in the republic. We treasure our natural right to keep and bear arms, not only as an ability to keep tyrants in check, but also as a symbol of freedom and self-reliance. Gun owners aren’t about womb-to-tomb dependency on the government. The mere fact that one picks up a gun and chooses to learn how to use it, speaks volumes.

Let’s speak volumes to Trump. A lot of us* voted for him, and helped shape the election in his favor. In my informal research, voters tended to vote for Trump as a protest vote, rather than truly supporting the man. And even his supporters are not succumbing to blind obedience, and demanding accountability. As so must us gun owners.

Trump promised to support our cause, and we have to hold him to it. Emails, phone calls, and even snail mail. Bombard him (politely of course) with messages stating our concerns. Keep the message fresh in the mind of him and his staff. We do have a marked advantage in this case. Both of President Trump’s adult sons, Eric, and Donald Jr are avid shooters and ardent supporters of the Second Amendment. Donald Jr was even featured in a Silencerco video in support of the Hearing Protection Act. And we know they’ll talk to Dad on a regular basis.

Also, contacting your legislators on a regular basis will keep pro-2A legislation on their minds. You can find out who represents you at whoismyrepresentative.com.

Legislative priorities

First and foremost, I consider the Hearing Protection Act a top priority. It’s been re-introduced for 2017, with even more legislative support, and (with a few exceptions) objective and positive coverage in both firearms-related media and the mainstream media. Getting silencers off the NFA is not only an immediate benefit to gun owners in terms of health and safety, but it is a very real blow to one of the oldest and most onerous pieces of gun control legislation, the National Firearms Act of 1934. We must encourage our legislators to pass this, and we must hold President Trump accountable when it reaches his desk. Worth pointing out in your communications is the business opportunity. Less restrictions on the sale of silencers/suppressors means more people will want them, and thus more people will need to make them to fill the demand. It’ll be yuge.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act Of 2017 should be our second priority. Right now, all 50 states enjoy some form of permitted or permitless carry of firearms outside the home. Most states are shall-issue, which means permits are issued as long as the requestor satisfies some legal requirements, i.e. must be 21, must have passed the test, must not be a violent felon, and so on. Or they are Constitutional carry, which means a firearm may be carried outside the home without a permit. A few states are may-issue, which basically means the issuing authority can deny permit issuance for no specific reason if they feel like it. States like Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and so on are shall-issue. States like Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, and Maine are Constitutional carry. States like New York, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Hawai’i are may-issue.

Generally, the states that support shall-issue and Constitutional carry enjoy reciprocity, which is to say that if you have a permit to carry a firearm in one of them, you can in all of them. For example, my Florida CWFL allows me to carry a firearm in 36 states. I’ve done this in practice, as I’ve traveled to many of those states while under arms, with no difficulty. I’ve even open carried in Georgia.

Where my personal ability to reciprocity breaks down is when I cross into may-issue states. For example, I cannot carry a firearm when I go to New Jersey to visit family. Even keeping it locked up and off my person is inadvisable. Peaceable journey laws would in theory protect me in this instance, but New Jersey law enforcement is notoriously anti-gun and they tend to operate on a “arrest first, ask questions later” premise. Nor could I even dream of legally carrying a firearm in New York City, even though criminals in that great metropolis do so with impunity.

Where the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act comes into play is that, upon passage, licensed individuals will be able to carry their firearms nationwide. The fringe benefit of this Act will be that it will potentially force may-issue states into a shall-issue mode. However, may-issue states will not back down without a fight. Most of the may-issue states have very powerful progressive majorities in both their state legislatures and Congress. While the Hearing Protection Act will (hopefully) get lost in the noise of government and pass without much fanfare, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is definitely going to get the brunt of opposition. Expect California’s legislators and “concerned citizens” to spin tales of blood and gore, as they fill people’s heads with visions of gun-totin’ yokels from Flyover Nation wandering around Hollywood with anti-materiel rifles slung over their shoulders.

Nonetheless, the increased prospect of defeat should strengthen our resolve, not dissuade it. Precedence is established, after all. Drivers licenses enjoy full state reciprocity. And after the landmark Obergefell v Hodges decision which established marriage license reciprocity (states were granting marriage licenses to LGBTQ couples before it became national…) and by procedure established a “shall-issue” model of marriage license issuance, marriages regardless of gender pairings became recognized nationwide. So, if a carry license is issued by one state, shouldn’t it be recognized everywhere else?

President Trump, especially since he claims to have a rare New York City carry permit, should sign this and help usher this through Congress as well.

Sidebar: Will the Donald carry in the White House? That’d be kind of cool actually if the USSS issued him a SIG P229R.

A few words to the Donald

President Trump. I didn’t vote for you. I’m stubborn like that. I voted for Gary Johnson since I tend to hold to the ideals of the Libertarian Party. Yes, your fellow Republicans and your former best friends in the Democratic Party deem me ronin, and I get the abuse from both sides. I’m used to it. Blame your pal Howard Stern for putting the Libertarian idea in my head in the 1990s. However, even though my guy didn’t deadlock the election and cause the government to freeze in place, I accept the fact that you won the election, fair and square, by the rules established over two centuries ago. Congrats, you kicked down the “outsider” door and did it.

You’re imperfect. But so am I. Those who know me outside of the firearms industry will know that I’ve done my share of controversial things in the past, too. That’s being human I guess. However, I’m not the President. You are. Whether we love you or hate you, we’re looking to you to put most of those imperfections aside, and perform the job you were just hired for to the best of your abilities. Us here in “gun nut” world are going to hold you to it.

Good luck to you sir, and God bless…