November 7, 2018
By Jeff Fletcher
Mid-term voters provided mixed results across the nation yesterday and, as polls closed from east to west, both gun rights and gun control supporters came away with some victories and some defeats.
Some of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida school massacre expressed anger when the state’s new pro-gun governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, defeated his Democrat gun control challenger, Andrew Gillum. Adding insult to injury, Florida’s three-term gun control Senator, Bill Nelson, lost to former Governor Rick Scott whose pro-gun sentiments were only briefly on display when he signed a bill raising the age limit to buy a rifle from 18 to 21 following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last February.
“I’m shaking with anger right now,” said Parkland student Jacyln Corin, a co-founder of the March for Our Lives student movement to a room of fellow gun control activists at an election watch party Tuesday night.
Contrasting the Florida vote, supporters of a gun control ballot measure tagged as Initiative 1639 in Washington state celebrated a victory that pushed back against gun rights groups that fought the measure, including the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation. The initiative strengthened existing gun laws by including enhanced background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles, forced gun owners to keep their guns locked up, and raised the age limit to buy a gun from 18 to 21.
Gun rights groups said the new age restrictions would strip those younger gun buyers of their constitutional rights. Such an issue could conceivably end up in the courts where, for example, an 18-year old gun buyer in Troy, Michigan is suing the state after he was refused purchase of a shotgun and ammunition for hunting.
While Democrats were victorious in re-claiming the House, Republicans added to their slim majority in the Senate by electing senators in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas. As of early Wednesday the race for a senate seat from Arizona still hasn’t been called, although Republican Martha McSally was still holding onto a slight lead of about 13,000 votes with 63% of the votes counted. If McSally wins, that will give the Republicans a clear edge over Senate Democrats.
The victory in the Senate was especially seen as critical to the constitutional guarantees of gun rights provided by the Second Amendment and the possibility of President Trump in his selection of yet another conservative Justice on the Supreme Court, if and when that opportunity arises again. The court now enjoys a conservative majority following the confirmation of new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a pro-gun constitutional originalist.
On the flip side, however, the anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety was celebrating victories in some reliably safe blue states, touting the election of new Democrats to the House.