By now everyone in America who pays a modicum of attention to politics knows that Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and is in the process of assembling his presidential cabinet. While the defeat of the Democrat standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, is generally a positive for preserving the right to own and bear arms, there is much speculation regarding President-elect Trump’s intentions for firearm legislation.
Gun Free Zones
President-elect Trump received the NRA’s support and made much hay regarding his sons’ hunting trips and appreciation for firearms. While it is not clear if Trump is a long time supporter of the Second Amendment, or if he has recently come to his positions, he has taken a strong stance on the right to own and bear arms for self-defense.
In a controversial statement, Trump likened gun-free zones to “target practice for the sickos and mentally ill.” He has further promised to do all in his power to end gun-free zones. While some Federal restrictions will require legislation to repeal, such as the prohibition on possessing firearms on school grounds, other restrictions may be removed by executive orders or the regulatory process which can be driven by the President.
One area where the President can unilaterally have a significant impact is the military rules restricting the possession of private arms for self-defense. Strangely enough, the Department of Defense, less than two weeks after the election, announced plans to allow some soldiers to carry private firearms upon military installations. It appears that President Obama has seen the writing on the wall and is quickly acting to a) steal Trump’s thunder, b) add to his legacy, and c) allow carry with more restrictions and discretion than if the process was driven by Trump. We shall have to wait and see how this particular regulation develops.
National Carry Reciprocity
Trump has likened concealed weapon permits to driver licenses and argues that the right to self-defense does not stop at state borders. And he has pledged to push for legislation requiring the national recognition of state issued concealed weapon permits.
Unfortunately this is an issue which concerns many gun friendly legislators. Further top down mandates from the Federal Government will continue to erode the Federalism that is the core of the United States system of government. To satisfy those concerns, the mandate will be accomplished with ‘the carrot’ of continuing Federal spending in a state, but only if the state passes certain provisions recognizing concealed weapon permits.
There are other concerns in the details too. Some rightfully worry that national recognition will turn into a call for nationally issued permits where the Federal Government sets the standards required for a person to exercise their right to carry a firearm. This will jeopardize the permits issued by any state with a different standard. And many question what will become of the 10 or so states that do not require a permit to carry a firearm? Will their residents be allowed to carry in other states without a permit?
For multiple administrations, the President has prevented the importation of historic American firearms from abroad. Typically these firearms are World War II era rifles highly desired by collectors. Liberal Presidents have argued that the firearms are dangerous and of no sporting purpose while ignoring that even more effective firearms are manufactured and sold here legally every day.
It is a reasonable hope that Trump would allow the importation of these antique arms and thereby preserve a valuable part of history for the American collector. This is another area where the President can act unilaterally through the agencies of the executive branch.
Gun Control Still Lurking
Unfortunately the news is not all good. During one of the presidential candidate debates, Trump openly supported a version of the ‘No fly – no buy’ firearm band. Such a band will deny a person the right to own a firearm based upon their presence on a secret list. Due process will not be followed before a Constitutionally protected right is taken away.
This threat is all the more dangerous because the NRA supported the position as a compromise to neutralize the calls for greater gun control. While the sagacity of that decision may be questionable in hindsight, the NRA is unlikely to pull back without tremendous pressure from their base. We can expect any pro-gun legislation to either originally sport this restriction or to face an amendment for such.
All in all, the results of the election bear promise for firearm rights. Cautious optimism is appropriate, but one must remain ever vigilant and guarded of his liberties. While semi-automatic rifle and shotgun bans and magazine and ammunition restrictions are likely dead for the next four years, there will be continued calls for gun control, and unfortunately some of them may still find favor in the White House.