Second Amendment

Gun rights supporters see political tide shifting in their favor

Gun rights activists are making a new push with the new administration

 

After years of restrictive gun laws being imposed across the country during the President Obama years, gun rights advocates are seeing the tide turn in their favor.

Since President Trump assumed office earlier this year, more than a dozen states have introduced pro-gun legislation. The bills have fallen mostly into two categories: permits to carry and access to buildings. 

Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb says gun rights are gaining ground and a lot is due to the power shift to Republicans – not only in Congress and the White House, but also in state houses and governors' mansions.

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"We're able to move our agenda on the state level as well and help fend off some of the attacks we've seen in the past," Gottlieb said.

President Trump is viewed as a champion of the Second Amendment. Earlier this week, at a rally in Louisville, he reaffirmed his campaign promise to protect the right to bear arms and was met with loud cheers.

"That Second Amendment is very, very safe right now," he said. 

On the campaign trail, he indicated gun rights were under siege and repeatedly said he wanted to "protect" and "save" the Second Amendment. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Rifle Association spent more than $10 million for Trump's election and $19 million against his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Those in favor of strict gun laws say they are stepping up their efforts in light of recent state and federal bills to relax weapons laws put in place during the Obama administration.

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During a recent group-lobbying visit to Colorado's State Capitol, Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, ticked off a number of her side's successes.

"When we show up at our statehouses, we win,” Watts said, “and that has never happened in the history of this movement because there was no grassroots organization to show up in red shirts and sit in senate galleries and say, not in my state, not in my community, you're not going to pass these laws."

But the movement to strengthen gun rights is gaining momentum, experts say.

On Capitol Hill, national reciprocity has been revived, with bills being introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. The exact details vary by bill but reciprocity would allow gun owners with a concealed carry license to carry in other states.

Watts calls it a nightmare for Americans.

"What it means for states that have strong gun laws like Colorado, is that suddenly you are beholden to the lowest common denominator in the country, to get a gun license," she said.

As confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court got underway this week, his entry onto the nation's highest court (if confirmed), is not the only aspect of the judicial system that could decide upcoming gun issues. Currently, there are 115 judicial vacancies for U.S. District Courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals.

"With all these vacancies now, we can change the court system to really support gun rights," Gottlieb said. "We project that President Trump is going to appoint close to 40 percent of the total judgeships in this country, with vacancies that are now open and with the elderly judges who are going to be retiring in the first term alone."

Last year, leading up to the election, guns sales and permits were at record numbers, according to the Second Amendment Foundation, which tracks the numbers. Gottlieb and other experts attribute it to fear by gun rights proponents that Hillary Clinton was going to be elected and was going to strip away their rights. Since the beginning of the year, Gottlieb said, the numbers have slowed but, "they're still sitting up there in very high territory."

Watts said Moms Demand Action and Everytown, the country’s largest gun safety organization, will continue to target laws they view as lax.

"We support the Second Amendment,” Watts said. “Many of our volunteers are gun owners or they're married to gun owners. This is not being anti-gun, this is about supporting the responsibilities that go along with gun rights."

Alicia Acuna joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1997 and currently serves as a general assignment reporter based in the network's Denver bureau.