Which Party is Better for Individual Gun Rights?

I posted a bit in the thread about Romney, where it’s been buried, so I’ll ask the question here: Which party at the Federal level (and especially the Presidency) has a better record being pro-gun for ordinary individuals? I mention ‘ordinary individuals’ because I think that ordinary citizens are the focus of ‘gun control’ discussion, not agents of the state like retired LEOs or gun manufacturers.

And please note that this isn’t intended to be a discussion about whether gun control in general or any particular law or policy is good or bad, this is essentially assuming ‘pro-gun is good, which party does more pro-gun stuff’?

My contention is that Democrats are consistently the party that does the most for gun rights. While it’s true that the perception is that Democrats are a bunch of gun-grabbing maniacs and Republicans are the staid supporters of second amendment rights, that doesn’t seem to be the case when looking at their actual record.

Certainly, Democratic presidents and candidates like both Clintons, Obama, and Biden call(ed) for gun control and especially an assault weapon ban, people overlook that Nixon, Reagan, and both Bushes were all highly in favor of gun control. Nixon favored a total ban on handguns, saying “I don’t know why any individual should have a right to have a revolver in his house.” Reagan didn’t do much during his presidency (the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which is not entirely positive, was signed by him but didn’t get endorsement), but after his presidency supported the 1993 Brady Bill and 1994 Assault Weapons ban - “At least two members of the House of Representatives credited Reagan with influencing their votes. The bill passed 216-214, a margin of two votes,” according to UCLA law professor Adam Winkler. Senior Bush implemented a ban on ‘assault weapon’ imports through an executive order in 1989, strongly supported the 1994 assault weapon ban, and got so irate at NRA rhetoric that he publicly renounced his membership. George W Bush stated that he was in favor of renewing the assault weapon ban, and told Congress that if they got a bill renewing it passed, he would definitely sign it. Romney while governor in 2004 said "“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts. These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people,” though he shifted to a “no new gun control laws” position when he ran for president. The only Republican president or recent presidential candidate who hasn’t signed or endorsed an assault weapons ban is Trump - and he chose to implement new gun control through executive order (the bump stock ban).

So, in summary: The Brady Bill and Assault Weapon ban were the only two major pieces of federal gun control legislation passed since 1990. Both were strongly supported by all pre-Trump Republican presidents. They were passed primarily by Democratic legislators, but there were Republicans who crossed the line. There have been two notable executive orders implementing additional gun control, both were implemented by Republican presidents and neither have been rescinded by Republican presidents.

In terms of pro-gun legislation, The 2004 Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act and the 2005 “The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and Child Safety Lock Act” passed under Bush with Republican majorities don’t affect regular individuals. The first allows nationwide concealed carry for retired LEOs, and the second protects manufacturers from liability lawsuits. On the other hand, the In 2010, with Obama as president and Democratic majorities in Congress, a law allowing concealed carry in national parks was passed. In the same year, a law removing the Bush-era restriction on transporting firearms via Amtrack was also passed.

So, when Democrats have had control of Congress and the Presidency, they’ve used it in the 90s to pass legislation endorsed by every Republican president since 1980 except for Trump, and since 2000 for some expansion of gun rights. Even when they had a full majority in Congress and Obama as president, they did not implement any new gun control in this millennium. On the flip side, when Republicans have had control of Congress and the Presidency, they have not passed pro-gun legislation affecting regular individuals or repealed anti-gun legislation.

In terms of the Judiciary, it’s also doesn’t seem to be very clear cut. From 1940 to 2008, the Supreme court declined to hear any second amendment cases at all. In 2008 DC v Heller established that owning handguns for self defense was covered under the 2nd amendment, and in 2010 McDonald v. City of Chicago explicitly incorporated this protection to the states, not just DC. While the single pair of cases is dramatic, DC’s gun ban had been in place since 1975 (33 years) and Chicago’s since 1982 (28 years). This year alone the Supreme Court simply declined to hear 10 different very solid cases challenging state laws on the basis of DC v Heller. While there’s a theory that judges appointed by Republicans are ready for an orgy of striking down gun laws across the country, that doesn’t seem to fit the facts. The history says that they will let ‘bad’ laws sit for a quarter to a third of a century refusing to hear cases before finally doing anything about them, and that they are only willing to intervene in really extreme cases (DC and Chicago had outright bans, but New York’s extremely selective licensing is apparently fine).

So, overall while Republican-appointed SC judges are slightly more pro-gun than others, in practice it doesn’t appear that they are actually willing to strike down any legislation less overwhelming than what passed in DC and Chicago.

So, overall what am I missing? Or am I right in questioning the widely-held idea that electing Republicans to federal office is good for individual gun rights?

The Libertarian party has the strongest platform but no history, the Republican party is second but a lot of lip service as you noted. Democrats in 2020 are unformly way behind that. Insert some various tiny unknown socialist parties, many of which actually have gun policies way less restrictive than most Republican S.

Seems the premises hinges on what people got away with either way which is sort of an ex post facto fallacy. It also specifies federal laws when clearly the premise is not true at the state party level.

Parties that don’t get elected are useless for implementing actual policy. Having a ‘strong platform’ is worthless if you’ve spent the entire five decades of your existence not winning elections.

I disagree with your baseless assertion that Democrats in 2020 are ‘uniformly way behind that’ - what actual actions have Republicans taken on gun rights in 2016-2020, and especially 2018-2020 when they’ve had control of both houses and the presidency, and have repeatedly shown willingness to pass measures they want rather than compromise? If the Republicans are actually as pro-gun as you claim, why haven’t they passed any pro-gun legislation this entire millennium while the Democrats have? Why have the only executive orders of Republican presidents been to restrict gun rights (bump stock ban) and none to remove old anti-gun orders (Bush Sr.'s import ban)?

If the Republicans were actually as pro-gun as they are supposed to be, we’d see something pro-gun from them while they have power. Maybe they’d actually pass something to help fix shaky pro-gun laws, like the Lawful Interstate Transportation of Firearms bill that hasn’t passed and pretty clearly isn’t.
Maybe something small but flashy like taking suppressors and short-barreled rifles/shotguns off of the National Firearms Act list, or even removing the 1986 new machine gun ban. Or something big, like nationwide concealed carry under the same legal theory as the nationwide concealed carry for retired LEOs. If I’m missing something they’ve actually accomplished (not just a proposed bill that got buried), I’m all ears.

My post hinges on the actual history of what parties do when they have power. Claiming that it’s some kind of ‘ex post facto fallacy’ to look at history and cite historical fact is just bizarre, it’s not a fallacy to look at the actual deeds of people rather than myths and empty rhetoric. It specifies federal because that’s what’s most commonly discussed, and what can easily be analyzed - there’s a narrow set of facts to investigate, and it’s well-covered, while state elections do not get as good of coverage.

The 2020 platform is unequivocally the most antigun in history. When Biden gets into office, he could decide it’s not his priority (I’d hope that any president would put current events first anyway), but absolutely on paper it way beyond anything Democrats have proposed or done, and beyond anything Republicans have proposed or done.

I absolutely agree that Republicans haven’t done much, with a few exceptions, except that they get together when Democrats propose something. They had a very good chance to pass the Hearing Protection act and sat on their hands.

As far as the history, I think you’re looking at what did happen, and not so much on the variables involved. Past stuff needs to look at what the composition of congress was at the time, which bills came out of committee and how far they got. Other factors like the slow implosion of the NRA, with other groups filling the void (though arguably they’ve already done that since Heller, just much quieter), Bloomberg’s billions.

And of course by law, the President themselves are supposed to have limited powers to change laws, though we know it doesn’t always work that way. But they can certainly use other means, whether executive orders, “reinterpretations” such as Trump’s bump stock ban, which may or may not have been legal, but was through non-legislative means. In short, you can’t just look at D vs R POTUS, but an interaction of them with congress (and possible SCOTUS).

The thing is, platforms are just empty speech said to get elected, and planks on platforms routinely end up not getting implemented. I’m not discussing which party pays better lip service to gun rights, but what they actually do.

That’s completely disagreeing with me and the history of what happened. It’s not that “Republicans haven’t done much”, it’s that Republicans have taken a number of anti-gun measures and have not created pro-gun measures. The only pro-gun legislation in this millennium came from a Democratic congress under Obama, not any of the Republican Congresses under Bush or Trump.

All of the pro-gun laws for individuals this millennium came from a Democratic congress under Obama. I both looked at this and pointed it out in my original post. I don’t really need to look at bills coming out of committee, because those are still bills that didn’t pass.

In the original post, I explicitly discussed how Bush Sr. and Reagan interacted with Congress to help pass the much-derided Assault Weapon ban. And I listed both major anti-gun executive orders issued since 1990, both of which came from Republicans, and which no Republican president has seen fit to remove. If Republicans are really so pro-gun, why didn’t the 1989 assault weapon import ban simply get removed sometime under the 12 years of W. Bush and Trump? Why haven’t we seen any similar anti-gun executive orders under Democratic Presidents if they’re really so anti-gun?

ISTM Establishment Republicans were, refreshingly, actually “conservative” on this issue in the sense of not wanting to dramatically upend what’s established already, not wasting political capital on it when there are other things to legislate or manage, and willing to join in with regulation when there was broad consensus and Law Enforcement said that was needed to push back on crime. In more recent times they had no real unified position other than “no renewed bans”, and as we saw last time around with Trump after the Las Vegas attack, he took executive action because it would make him look decisive and he did not trust the Congress on what they’d do with bump stocks. Biggest problems right now facing the GOP is a lot of hardcore-right legislators who are beholden to a “base” that’s convinced the guv’mint is coming for their guns any day now. George W was willing to accept a renewal of the 1994 AWB but the downticket Republicans opposed it because of this so that was that.

Meanwhile the Establishment Democrats had seemed to have cooled off on the guns issue after 2000 and accepted, “hey, this issue’s a loser for us, let’s just do incremental baby steps (up to where said incremental baby step gets denounced by the opposition as the end of FREEEDUUUMM)” and letting each state/major city do their thing, go ahead and let Vermont and Texas, Chicago and NYC, deal with things their own way. But then in this past decade came the succession of highly publicized spree shootings, and then the yahoos started parading around brandishing their AR clones just to get in the faces of the public, and the flames got fanned again.

In the end both parties used to go in the direction that the chiefs of police said was the “big deal”. Especially the GOP champions of “law and order”. In the 70s the “dreaded” gun was the cheap Saturday Night Special or the concealable handgun in general. Nixon wanted a handgun ban, sure: his was the age of Bobby Kennedy and George Wallace. After the Reagan/Brady shooting in '82 many states who hadn’t put in extra restrictions and requirements for handguns did, and soon the waiting period and background check became the national norm. Then in the 80s the “threat” became “OMG the gangs are acquiring more firepower than the police with military weapons that ‘can be easily made full automatic’ (or so it went)” which led to the '89 and '94 federal laws (and collaterally to the militarization of police forces). It was only after '94 that it was realized just how much that touched the nerve with a considerable and vocal number of the “base”.

Today however I see confusion as to what could be done that would not result in a political shitshow.

Meanwhile RW culture warriors will continue to yell and scream about how it’s “constitutional” to be armed anywhere (including in movement across state lines, and on someone else’s private property), all the time, and that I should be able to just buy a GAU-8 off-the-shelf in cash to prepare to face the government over mask mandates. LW culture warriors meanwhile will continue to invite, nay, richly earn ridicule over things like taking away Elmer Fudd’s shotgun. As one of these things creates a more real hazard to public safety than the other, I’m not surprised even “conservative” courts are hesitant to continue tearing down regulations when they are aware the legislators will be paralyzed when the time comes to make proper laws to make their rulings effective.

That one’s simple. Protectionism for US-based makers.

More or less the GOP talks gun protections, and the Dems talk gun control, but neither really do much.

Neither really care, both pay lip service to get the voters in line.

I suspect that if the Dems win both houses and Joe, they will pass another mild Assault Weapon ban, with a optional buy back. Background checks with be strengthened, maybe.

Neither party’s positions matter. It’s moot. Rulings by SCOTUS have protected gun rights such that fears of encroachments are boogeyman stories and nothing more.

Not quite. They can likely ban 'assault weapons", increase waiting times, and make all guns sales go thru a dealer. These would only be annoyances, true, but…

I don’t agree with this at all - Heller and McDonald have established that a complete ban on handguns or on having guns available for self defense will get struck down. But the fact that in the 12 years since Heller the courts have declined to overturn New York’s (especially NYC’s) restrictive licensing laws, any ‘assault weapon’ ban, any magazine capacity ban, and any of a number of other restrictive laws indicates that they will almost certainly not intervene in similar enroachments. It’s pretty clear than if congress passed another “Assault Weapon” ban, or expanded background checks to all gun sales, or raised the age for buying firearms, or created artificially high taxes on guns or ammunition, or anything along those lines, the Supreme Court would not strike it down based on their history.

The Appeals court struck down the magazine capacity ban in CA. But that was badly written.

Yep, several of those things would pass muster.

It is my opinion that the current court, via the “Rule of Four”, has not taken hardly any gun cases because Roberts is a wild card on some issues. With Ginsburg gone and Barrett expected to take her place, SCOTUS may take on more 2nd Amendment cases.

I’ve never understood why so many liberal Democrats are against firearms. There is systemic racism and police brutality. The Supreme Court has ruled that police don’t have to protect you. So let’s contradict the Bill of Rights and disarm all citizens because of some convoluted pre-crime prevention logic that will turn tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners into criminals while having almost no measurable effect on crime.

To answer OP’s question, unquestionably the Libertarians are best, followed by Republicans. The Democrats hardly deserve a mention except for a few that don’t follow the party line.

I’ve never understood why people think this, even though it is demonstrated over and over that it is not true. Many of us have guns.

There is a difference between being for gun controls, that prevent irresponsible idiots and criminals from having guns, and being against firearms in the hands of responsible legal owners.

Just because you “have guns” doesn’t mean your view is right. Biden says all you need is a double-barrel shotgun, just go outside and fire two blasts and the problem is solved. I wish I was making that up, there is video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrzyRXSxuAg

The 1994 AWB banned things like bayonets. What sort of problem are we solving here? Biden wants to ban AR-15s, the Honda Civic of citizen-owned semi-auto rifles. Yes they have been used in a few high-profile shootings, but day to day the vast majority of shootings are from handguns.

Laws infringing firearms rights are thought crime IMO, by a huge margin they punish people that have done nothing wrong. If someone commits a crime then by all means prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. But citizens don’t want to be made criminals overnight just for owning a popular rifle.

So, he doesn’t think that you don’t need a gun.

And yes, that quote has been used and used and overused some more.

You are right that the 1994 AWB didn’t do much. Which is why it puzzles me that people are so up in arms about it. The very few models of gun that it did make harder to get were slightly altered and put back into stores immediately.

For instance, the beltway sniper didn’t use a banned gun, he used one that the gun manufacturers altered specifically to get around the ban.

That’s not what thought crime means. At all.

I would say that people who are punished for that have done nothing wrong are the ones that end up victims of crime or accidents from those who are irresponsible or criminal in their gun use.

That we would like others to take some sort of responsibility for their guns does not mean that they are being made to be criminals.

You said that people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

What do you think that these people should be charged with? What do you think they will be charged with? Probably nothing. It’s pretty rare that parents are charged with anything when their child gets ahold of their gun, except in the cases where they were not allowed to have a gun in the first place.

And wouldn’t it be better to simply have a law saying that you should lock up your guns when you are not in direct control of them?

Should this guy face any sort of repercussion?

Any of these guys you think should face consequence?

I see this quote “police have labeled the shooting as an accident, and said there is no criminality.” quite often in these cases. They even keep the right to keep their guns.

Or, like in this case, "could result in an illegal weapons charge. " You think that he’ll lose his gun privileges? If he does, is that what you call “thought crime”?

The Democrats are not, in any way shape or form, wanting to “contradict the Bill of Rights and disarm all citizens because of some convoluted pre-crime prevention”

They want to toughen up background checks, ban new sales of assault weapons, and close a few other loopholes.

Hold gun manufacturers accountable. I disagree with this, endless nuisance and harassment lawsuits.

Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Not owning- new sales. Ok, by me.

Regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act I dont think this is a good idea.

Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Voluntary buy back, harmless.

  • Reduce stockpiling of weapons . In order to reduce the stockpiling of firearms, Biden supports restricting the number of firearms an individual may purchase per month to one. No big deal

Require background checks for all gun sales Since this allows for limited exceptions, such as gifts between close family members., not a bad idea.

Reinstate the Obama-Biden policy to keep guns out of the hands of certain people unable to manage their affairs for mental reasons, which President Trump reversed. Worst idea here. the ACLU is against it. Likely wont pass.


Saying you can own guns but are only allowed to own a double-barrel shotgun is like saying you can have a cell phone but you can only have a old Nokia brickphone.

I think we sort of agree here. So why ban cosmetic features or one type of rifle, the most popular type, when it’s trivially easy to buy another type of rifle that shoots the same round and does the same thing?

Brandishing is illegal, shooting someone is illegal, murder is illegal. Getting caught up on cosmetic features or the exact type of firearms citizens are “allowed” to own is a waste of time IMO.

Ok I shouldn’t have said “thought crime”, which I didn’t mean in the same way as 1984’s “thoughtcrime.” My point was banning particular types of scary-looking firearms that could be used to commit crimes, or banning certain features on firearms does little or nothing to reduce overall crime.

Regarding all the news articles, I am not a lawyer. I’m not sure what the theme of these cases are other than “there are 300,000,000 people in the country and accidents will happen, sometimes involving firearms.”

I think accidents involving children and firearms should be prosecuted just like an accident with a child drowning in a pool, or falling down stairs, or grabbing a pan of boiling water and scalding themselves. It’s a question of supervision. Child + dangerous object sometimes equals tragedy. Just because a firearm is involved doesn’t make it any more or less tragic or preventable.

Guy at gas station shooting himself and guy shooting into doctor’s office, reckless handling/discharge of a firearm plus whatever other injury or property damage charges are appropriate.

Guy shoots hunting buddy, reckless discharge and manslaughter, assuming it is established he really thought his friend was a deer. Doesn’t excuse the outcome, you don’t aim at something unless you can identify what it is and are willing to kill it and to me a deer looks a hell of a lot different than a person. Don’t shoot if you don’t know what you’re shooting at.

When I say “all citizens” I more precisely mean “all citizens who lawfully own a particular type of firearm and by new law are suddenly either disarmed or made criminals.”

Bill of Rights, Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

“Well regulated” in the language of the time means “in good working order”, not restricted by laws. Militia is made up of citizens, different from soldiers. They were the citizens called to fight against the British. “The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” (emphasis mine.) All firearms laws that ban or restrict are infringements of the Bill of Rights in my view.

These are all infringements. They prevent citizens from exercising their rights to keep and bear arms. If the citizen is a felon or otherwise has lost their Constitutional rights for some reason then yes they may be prevented from owning firearms. But otherwise it’s stripping the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong.

By my count you disagree with 3 out of 7 things on the quoted list. I disagree with all of them. And Joe is seen as a moderate Democrat.

He didn’t say that’s all you can have. He said that’s all you need.

I don’t necessarily agree, but, at the same time, you can dissuade robbers with a shotgun.

Because there was a bunch of pressure to do something, but there was too much unwillingness to actually do anything, so we ended up with a compromise law that looked nice if you didn’t look to closely at it, but didn’t actually do anything to limit the sales, possession, or use of rifles.

If all you do is define “scary looking”, then sure. If you actually define them by capability, that’s different. If you also define them in terms of who can get them, that’s even more important.

The theme of all the cases that I told here is that no one went to jail, no one faced any sort of serious consequence, and I don’t think that any of them even lost the right to carry a gun.

It is preventable. If you have a pool, in most places you are required to have a fence around it. If you have a gun, you are not required to keep it in a safe place.

I agree, but those are not the laws on the books. Instead, they are not charged with anything, and get to keep their rights to carry a gun. (BTW, not just a doctor’s office, a pediatrician’s office.)

Okay, that is the sort of law that I could get behind. But that is not the sort of law that exists.