Alan Gottlieb talks Gun Control, Risks to 2nd Amendment Rights
Alan Gottlieb is in the trenches fighting anti-gun legislation day in and day out. He founded the Second Amendment Foundation (2AF) in 1974 to educate the general public about gun rights issues and legal actions. Since then, the foundation has helped defend concealed carry rights, overturn bans on city ranges, and generally fought for law-abiding gun owners.
Today, you can even see ads from the 2AF “Second Amendment First Responders” campaign on cable TV stations across the country. But after the last election, 2021 could be a pivotal year for 2A rights. We sat down with Gottlieb to discuss the current issues facing gun owners and what you can do to protect your rights.
Guns.com: Let's talk about 2021. Why is 2021 the most critical year for gun owners, possibly ever, to kind of band together here and fight some of this anti-gun legislation that we've been seeing?
Gottlieb: Unfortunately, 2021 has become the ultimate storm, the perfect storm against gun rights with the Biden administration in the White House. He's had a long history of being anti-Second Amendment, and the House and Senate in control of Democrats who have already come out, basically, with a lot of anti-gun legislation. As well as, we've got the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee talking about, it's a high priority for him to get anti-gun bills through the committee in the Senate so it gets to the Senate floor. If these get through the Senate and the House, there's no doubt that the president will sign those bills, and the legislation they're talking about, it is extremely dangerous to Second Amendment rights.
Add that to the fact that we've got this particular year, with the so-called cancel culture and people wanting to cancel Second Amendment rights. We're looking at big cats and major corporations, billionaires like Michael Bloomberg, putting a lot of money and putting it in as fuel in the fire to help fuel the anti-gun push. So, it's really the perfect storm against gun rights, and we really need to be prepared and pull out all the stops to defend our rights now, because otherwise we'd lose them. One of the problems we face is once you lose rights, you don't get them back.
Guns.com: Well put, thank you. You talked about a lot of the dangerous legislation out there. I think, to everyone, it seems like H.R. 127 seems to be the big one and the most dangerous piece of legislation out there right now. Can you talk about what individual gun owners need to know about the dangers of H.R. 127 and the dangers that it poses to individual's rights?
Gottlieb: H.R. 127, sponsored by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, is a very dangerous gun control measure. It may not be the worst, to be honest about it. There's probably going to be a lot of others they'll be giving you worse than this. I mean, this one doesn't directly ban guns … [it’s like] the best wishlist for anti-gun legislation, where it includes not just registration of new guns, federally, but registration of back ones as well. Guns that people own for many, many years and have gone through background checks to even get. It creates a demand that you have to have an insurance policy, which we're estimating would cost at least $800 for everybody who owns a firearm, if they can get insurance. If you couldn't get the insurance, well, then you couldn't own the gun.
So, I guess you could call it a gun ban to that extent. They're going to be a lot of insurance companies that aren't going to want to write these kinds of policies and a lot of people that won't be able to afford to pay for the policies. You buy a $200 handgun or a $300 handgun for self-protection in your home, and then you have to have $800 for insurance. It's a chilling effect on exercising your constitutional rights. But the part that bothers me the most is that you have to go through a psychological evaluation to determine if you're suited or unsuited to own a firearm. Not just you, but every member of your household. The question is going to be, who's going to perform this psychological evaluation? What's it going to entail? The bill doesn't say. It's open-ended.
Who's going to pay for the psychological evaluation? Psychologists aren't going to do it for free. The government isn't paying for it. You have to pay for it. Add that on top of the $800 insurance policy, and before you know it, guns are priced out of the market. That's why this is so dangerous and so draconian. These requirements are just impossible for most people to be able to even meet, and again, this just shows where the other side is coming from. They think they can get away with legislation like this because it doesn't say gun ban. We're not saying you can't have a gun, so it doesn't matter what the Supreme Court may have ever said about gun rights.
Guns.com: Another piece of legislation that we're also looking at here is H.R. 125, which provides the seven-day waiting period for any semi-automatic firearms, silencer, armor-piercing ammo, and large-capacity magazine. Can you talk a little bit about H.R. 125 and, similarly, how it is used to attack individuals' rights?
Gottlieb: Well, this legislation imposes waiting periods or increases waiting periods. The other side, our opponents of gun ownership, thinks that everything they need to do is to make it harder to be able to buy a gun. If you go in to buy it and you have to go back a second time to buy the gun, it makes it a little tougher. So as a result, less people will show up and buy guns, and it's a chilling effect. They do this to just chill people from exercising their rights, but what's really interesting is, we've had, when they first put it in the background check bill, federally, there was a waiting period that went along with it, which when it became an instant check, the waiting period went away.
We've done a lot of research at the Second Amendment Foundation, and the other side made a big mistake with that, because while they thought putting that roadblock in the way of gun ownership would mean less guns would be sold, it didn't really affect the gun sales. It didn't diminish gun sales, it actually increased the gun sales to some extent, because you have to go back into the gun store. Your gun stores don't necessarily have a lot of street traffic. You have to go back in a second time to pick up your gun. You might buy another gun. You might buy more ammo. You might buy more accessories. It actually helped the bottom line of the firearms industry when they thought it was going to hurt the industry.
Guns.com: Can you speak any more about how they don't actually prevent any crime, do they?
Gottlieb: There's been no research ever done that shows waiting periods, like in particular, which they're talking about waiting periods, has ever stopped crimes. It may delay their crime, so somebody does it seven days later, but it doesn't prevent the crime. Usually, what happens, people go around and find another way to commit their crime, and you find a different kind of weapon. Maybe it's not even a gun to commit the crime with. Somebody's criminal intent is not going to stop [them] from doing it just because they can't get their hands on a firearm.
I also always like to say, a gun by itself is an inanimate object. It doesn't have a brain to hate with. It doesn't have a finger to pull its own trigger. A gun by itself is meaningless. It's a person and what's in their mind and what their intents are. Unfortunately, in our world, there are evil people out there. That's why a lot of us, like myself, want to own a firearm to protect ourselves and our family.
Guns.com: Record numbers of new gun owners came into the mix in 2020. How do you talk to a new gun owner, or maybe even someone seasoned, who says, "I'm supportive of the Second Amendment, but…?" Usually, they say something like, “I don't think 30-round magazines should be allowed” or “I don't think you should be allowed to have assault weapons.” How do you talk to somebody who thinks they fundamentally support the Second Amendment and gun ownership, but then they want to ban these certain other aspects?
Gottlieb: Well, it's always very difficult, particular with a lot of new gun owners that have not really thought about legislation or impacting anti-gun laws on them. We have had a number of calls from some of these new gun owners that went out and bought a gun and found out. They were told it's easier than buying a loaf of bread in the supermarket. All of a sudden, they find out it's not. That's not the case at all. And in fact, for some of them in some states, it was very difficult or next to impossible. So now those particular people want to be engaged because they realize they haven't been told the truth. When it comes to, “you don't need this, you don't need that,” I like to tell them it's not a bill of needs. It's a bill of rights.
You may not need that kind of gun, but that doesn't mean you can't have it for legitimate, lawful purposes. I try to explain it that way. I also try to explain that the other side is intent on having no guns out there, and you have to realize that they realize they can't do that overnight. They try to pass one step at a time and divide and conquer. Split the hunters off from the people who buy guns for self-defense. Split off people who might want to buy a semi-automatic rifle from somebody who only wants a handgun. Come only after cheap handguns, so people with expensive handguns don't really care. It's a divide and conquer mentality the other side uses. Our side has to realize that. If you give the other side an inch, they're going to take a mile.
Guns.com: What would you say is the most effective way for gun owners right now to fight back against this proposed legislation? What is the best thing that we can do today to make sure that this doesn't go through?
Gottlieb: Let me start by saying, first of all, elections have consequences, and right now we are at the short end of the stick, which makes it a little more difficult for us. And that's why we were pushing so hard to see that the Obama administration didn't get put in place and that Congress didn't flip, the Senate didn't flip. Now that it has, we have a couple of years of hard work that also costs a lot of money. Getting involved with both state, national, and local groups – joining them and donating so that we have the money to fight back is extremely important. It's also important to work together for a common cause and be on the same page. That's extremely important right now as well. It's important, of course, to let all your elected officials know where you stand on these issues, and it's also very important to make sure that the bad guys get voted out in the next election so that we can have some breathing space again.
We're starting in the Second Amendment Foundation a program we've called “Second Amendment First Responders.” It's to get new people engaged, involved in being activists in the gun rights movement, getting educated and involved. To help further that, we're running a significant number of national television spots attacking the Biden administration's anti-gun proposals on national television. We've been very, very successful with it. In fact, we're bringing in between 1,500 and 2,500 new supporters every single night with our TV spots. That, by the end of next week, will be our fifth week on the air. We'll have run 348 times on national television, over a dozen networks like CNN, even MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, One America News Network, Destination America, even on Bloomberg television ... We're getting our message out and bringing a lot of these new gun owners that bought firearms in 2020 into the gun rights movement.
Guns.com: What can we do to support you and to support Second Amendment Foundation? What's the best way that people can support you right now?
Gottlieb: The best way they can support us is to go directly to our website and join. Sign up for our action alerts or our newsletters or information bulletins. Even if they don't send us a dollar, I don't really care. We need the bodies. That'll really be great. What we're really trying to do is a gun owner outreach to defeat the gun ban overreach, and to do that, we need a lot of new people involved in the Second Amendment movement. The other side has grown and gotten more powerful with their funding and billionaires like Bloomberg and Soros giving money to set up gun groups in states all across the country.
We've got now some groups in some states that are better funded than some of our national groups, and they're only operating in one state. It's getting kind of scary. The TV campaign I just said that we're running, we fund that on $10, $15, $25 donations. The other side, when they want to do something, they get Bloomberg to write a six-figure, seven-figure check. So we need millions of people involved in the grassroots level to be able to defeat the institutional gun control movement and the elitists that really want to take our guns away.
Banner photo: President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden share a laugh in the Oval Office July 21, 2014, via the National Archives.