When President Donald Trump took the podium Tuesday evening in Phoenix he was quick to bring up what appears to be a toxic subject with some people.
“This evening, joined together with friends, we reaffirm our shared customs, traditions and values,” Trump stated, according to the Washington Post. “We love our country. We celebrate our troops. We embrace our freedom. We respect our flag. We are proud of our history. We cherish our Constitution — including, by the way, the Second Amendment…”
Gun rights are big in Arizona, where they enjoy what is generically referred to as “Constitutional carry.” That is, law-abiding citizens can carry firearms openly or concealed without a permit, an idea that would make some people in Oregon, Washington, New York, Maryland and New Jersey – and other liberal-dominated environments – choke and gasp for air.
Back on Aug. 1, the Washington Department of Licensing reported that there were 586,948 active concealed pistol licenses in the Evergreen State. By now that number has likely climbed. When the federal constitution was enacted more than 200 years ago, no license was required to carry a firearm. When the Washington state constitution was adopted and the territory became a state on Nov. 11, 1889, no license was required. Arizona and Washington have the exact same wording in their state constitutional right-to-bear-arms provisions. Arizona became a state in 1912.
But Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, expressed concerns Tuesday that some people exercised their Second Amendment right to bear arms near the Phoenix Convention Center, where the president was scheduled to speak. According to the Washington Free Beacon, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow indicated that both pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators were armed.
But what happened Tuesday night? Police threw some teargas and a few arrests were reported, but nobody was shot.
Then there is columnist Elvia Diaz, writing for the Arizona Republic, had this observation: “I grew up between a small town and a farm where rifles and guns were a fact of life, so I’m not squeamish about firearms. Though I won’t have them at my home, I support the Second Amendment.”
No, she doesn’t, not really, any gun rights activist would respond. If someone “supports” the Second Amendment, activists would explain, they don’t close their front door to those who, instead of “supporting” the right to bear arms actually exercise that right.
Diaz reported that she had “tried to talk to some fully-armed folks to understand their rationale for such a display. They just stared directly into my eyes, turned around a few times – almost like mannequins.”
This might be a learning experience for gun rights activists who use firearms as political props. Be willing to engage in calm discourse about the right to bear arms, and why that is important. Silence breeds stereotypes.
While President Trump frequently mentions the Second Amendment, Congress continues to drag its heels on doing anything for the firearms community that put Trump in the White House and gave the GOP control of Congress in November. Languishing in committee on Capitol Hill are national reciprocity and hearing protection bills that would expand the rights of gun owners and prevent them from being prosecuted for doing in New York what they do without fanfare in Arizona, Vermont, Missouri, Alaska and several other states. The hearing protection act will remove cumbersome paperwork from the ownership of silencers, which are so rarely used in crime that nobody really pays any attention.
Trump essentially gave what some describe as a “stump speech” reminiscent of his campaign rhetoric from a year ago. Now, nine months after winning the election and seven months after taking office, the time for talking may be over. Gun owners, with perhaps some prodding from the Oval Office to help, could fire up Congress when it returns to session next month to pass the carry and hearing legislation. Sure, there will be objections from several states, mainly represented by Democrats. Majority Republicans, say impatient gun rights activists, need to convince themselves they are in charge.