Donald Trump selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate in the upcoming 2016 presidential election. What does that mean for the future of the Second Amendment? It’s probably a good thing for Trump and gun rights supporters.
Trump doesn’t have a clean record when it comes to gun rights. In “The America We Deserve,” Trump’s book on public policy, published in 2000, Trump said he supported “assault weapons” bans and waiting periods. In general, he said he opposed gun control but also criticized Republicans who “walked the NRA line.”
“Democrats want to confiscate all guns,” reads Trump’s book. “[That] is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.” In 2000 he also said he supports “assault weapons” bans.
In 2015 Trump clarified his position on gun rights and gun ownership. “I certainly stand by my opposition to gun control when it comes to taking guns from law-abiding citizens. You mention that the media describes the AR-15 as an ‘assault rifle,’ which is one example of the many distortions they use to sell their agenda,” Trump said in an interview with AmmoLand. “However, the AR-15 does not fall under this category. Gun-banners are unfortunately preoccupied with the AR-15, magazine capacity, grips and other aesthetics, precisely because of its popularity.”
“I do not support expanding background checks,” Trump said. “The current background checks do not work.”
“They make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to acquire firearms while consistently failing to stop criminals from getting guns. We should re-examine our policy to make sure that these prohibitions do not impede law abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights.”
Trump added that he’s a lifetime member of the NRA. He went on to praise them for protecting gun rights and promoting gun safety and wildlife conservation.
Still, gun owners have long memories. Even with Trump’s fresh, emboldened outlook on the Second Amendment many single-issue voters have their doubts. It’s clear that by selecting Pence for Vice President that he’s hoping to assure voters that he’s serious when it comes to gun rights.
Pence is very clear about his stance on gun rights.
“I have strongly supported the right to keep and bear arms,” Pence said to Mike Wallace in an interview. “I truly believe that firearms in the hands of law abiding-citizens makes our families and our communities more safe, not less safe.”
“The bill that we just signed here in Indiana really was a common sense reform,” he continued. “We actually have parents that had a permit to conceal and carry … finding themselves guilty of a felony just by dropping their kids off to school. So we just made a modest change, a common sense change in Indiana law. And I strongly supported it.”
Everytown and Moms Demand Action have issued a statement condemning Trump’s choice. “[Pence] supports letting more people carry hidden, loaded guns in public and has consistently backed unprecedented immunity from liability for gun manufacturers. In picking Pence, Donald Trump has doubled-down on the NRA’s agenda. Voters in November will face a clear choice — between the gun lobby’s duo, Trump and Pence, and Hillary Clinton, a gun safety champion who has vowed to buck the NRA and fight to save American lives.”
“A White House team of Donald Trump and Mike Pence would put more families on the front lines of gun violence in America. Governor Pence has supported a range of NRA-backed priorities,” continued the statement.
Throughout his 12 years in the House of Representatives and his first term as the governor of Indiana Pence has been solidly pro-gun. He has an A+ to A rating from the NRA and a history of backing gun-friendly legislation.
In 2011 Pence co-sponsored a bill to relax prohibitions that make it illegal for gun dealers to sell guns in other states. Previously he fought to end the D.C. gun ban and gun registries. He also signed a bill to expand the Eddie Eagle program to give 23,000,000 kids access to gun safety programming.
Pence’s stance on concealed-carry is very aggressively pro-gun. He signed the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act in 2009 trying to set a national standard for concealed carry. Even early in his political career, Pence stood out as pro-gun, voting yes to prohibit people from suing gun manufacturers if their products were misused or used illegally.
All in all, Pence seems like a solid choice for Trump, an all-around more conventional Republican politician. What are your thoughts?