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Is the RNC Taking Gun Owners for Granted?

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As my friend Gabriella Hoffman recently highlighted in her podcast, gun owners could hold the key to victory for Donald Trump in November. Vote4America advisor Baker Leavit told Hoffman that adding just 2% of hunters to voting rolls would lead to a “landslide” for Republicans this fall, pointing to hundreds of thousands of potential votes in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and North Carolina. 

So why did the RNC drop almost every mention of the right to keep and bear arms from the party platform that’s expected to be formally adopted next week? That’s the topic of today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, and Armed Armerican Radio host Mark Walters joined me to lay out his theory. 

Nothing is normal anymore. Nothing. So you take what you grew up with as normal and just toss it out the window. It’s a generic statement in the platform: ‘our fundamental freedoms including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms’. It’s a pretty generic statement, but let’s go back and take a look at where the Democrats are right now. 

Since the Biden debacle you’ve heard virtually nothing about the Second Amendment coming from Democrats. They’ve been a little busy right now. So what I’m wondering is if this a shift away from this very polarizing issue as we get closer to the election. Maybe the Republicans are sensing something like this. I don’t know. I think what may be happening, and I could be way off base here, is that Republicans are trying to stay from what they see as controversial issues going into this election to try and draw a more moderate, independent voter that might not be seeing gun rights as you and I see it. And the timing of that might not be bad given what we’re seeing with the Democrats right now.

I suspect that Mark is right, and that’s exactly why the RNC platform is nearly devoid of any mention of the Second Amendment. But Walters adds that it would be a mistake for Republicans to ignore or avoid the right to keep and bear arms as an issue.

“I think that’s a loser for them. If they embraced, steadfastly, our Second Amendment right, they’d bring more voters to the table,” Walters tells Bearing Arms. 

Especially given the fact that Biden has made gun control such a huge hallmark of his administration. From trying to install a Giffords activist as director of the ATF and establishing the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and staffing it with longtime anti-gunners from groups like Everytown to using the ATF to promulgate new restrictions on pistol stabilizing braces, unfinished frames and receivers, and who can sell a firearm without having to obtain a federal firearms license, Biden has repeatedly made moves to draw the gun control lobby as close as possible to his campaign. Gun control groups endorsed Biden’s reelection bid last year; a sign of just how important he is to their plans. 

Now’s not the time for the RNC to get gun-shy. In the words of Ronald Reagan, the GOP needs to operate under the banner of bold unmistakable colors with no pale pastels. The party should be reminding swing state voters in places like Pennsylvania what awaits them under Democratic control by pointing to neighboring states like New York; where would-be gun owners wait for months on end for their Second Amendment permission slip, are subjected to a problem-plagued background check system every time they purchase ammunition, and are unable to purchase or possess some of the most commonly-sold rifles in the country because they’re banned in the Empire State. 

To be fair, the polls look very good for Donald Trump at the moment, and I can see the rationale in dropping hot button issues like abortion and the right to keep and bear arms from the party platform in order to boost support among more moderate voters. The problem for Republicans is that Trump is outperforming down-ticket candidates in many of these same battleground states that are crucial to a Republican congressional majority come 2025. 

In Pennsylvania, for instance, Trump has a five point lead over Biden in the RealClearPolitics polling average. Republican Senate candidate David McCormick, on the other hand, trails incumbent Bob Casey by four points. Trump’s up by five points in Nevada, but Democrat Jackie Rosen has almost the same lead over Republican candidate Sam Brown. It’s Trump by five in Arizona, but Ruben Gallego is leading Republican Kari Lake by a little more than two points. 

Gun owners tend to vote more frequently than non-gun owners, but that doesn’t mean the GOP can take us for granted. The GOP can’t just ride Trump’s coattails and expect to take control of the Senate (and keep control of the House) come November. They can’t depend on gun owners to look at Joe Biden’s abysmal attacks on the right to keep and bear arms and automatically cast their vote for Republicans. Donald Trump himself cautioned against gun owner apathy when speaking to the NRA earlier this year, and the GOP needs to give those gun owners a reason to vote for Republican candidates, not merely against Joe Biden and the Democrats. 

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