Biden + Harris = Toughest Gun Control Platform in History
On Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden chose U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as his 2020 running mate in what anti-gun groups called, "the strongest gun safety ticket ever," with the word "safety" largely a dog whistle for "regulation."
Biden, a Pennsylvania-born former U.S. Senator from Delaware and the presumptive Democratic nominee, selected Harris this week after months of rumors that his campaign was in talks with the sitting first-term California senator. The news was greeted with applause by national gun control organizations such as the Brady Campaign, Giffords, and Michael Bloomberg's Everytown group, with the latter expected to chip in $60 million to this year's elections.
“Vice President Biden and Senator Harris are poised to make history this November,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Everytown-subsidiary Moms Demand Action. “There is no doubt this will be the strongest gun safety ticket ever, and when we elect Vice President Biden as president and Senator Harris as his vice president, Americans will be safer."
Just what is Harris's background when it comes to firearms and public policy? Pull up a seat because it goes back a while.
San Francisco DA
Harris, 55, started as the deputy district attorney in Alameda County in 1990 then progressed through the ranks of attorneys employed by San Francisco before winning election as that city’s district attorney in 2003. While there she penned a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court against gun rights advocates in the landmark 2008 Heller case contending that the District of Columbia’s defacto gun ban did not violate the Second Amendment.
Harris joined with city leaders to ban gun shows at area venues-- even outside of the city limits.
It was also under her two-term watch as San Francisco’s chief law enforcement officer that the city’s controversial gun lock and ammo ban law was implemented. That law was mired in legal proceedings backed by the National Rifle Association and gun industry groups that ultimately had 26 state attorneys general in opposition.
Picking up the Democratic nomination for California attorney general in 2010, she narrowly won that office with the endorsement of fellow party members U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and would go on to be the architect of many of the state's anti-2A laws and regulations.
As the state's AG, Harris repeatedly went back to the legislature to get millions in funding to seize firearms from gun owners as part of California's controversial APPS program. Her office defended a big jump in mandatory fees on all legal gun transfers to help fund such initiatives while simultaneously fighting to keep the state's outdated 10-day waiting period for firearms.
Harris went toe-to-toe with the firearms industry to maintain California's unworkable microstamping mandate which gun makers said is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, and is cost-prohibitive-- but has had the effect of limiting the availability of new semi-automatic pistols to law-abiding Golden State gun owners.
She also repeatedly dogged the U.S. 9th Circuit to intervene in the case of Peruta v San Diego, which was on track lead to the eventual repeal of the state’s may-issue concealed carry laws.
In 2016, Harris was thought to be a possible replacement for President Obama to fill the open seat of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a prospect that brought howls from gun rights advocates as Scalia was a Second Amendment stalwart who penned the court's rulings in the key Heller and McDonald decisions that she had opposed as San Francisco DA.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Harris grilled SCOTUS nominees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch on gun control issues, among other liberal talking points.
Failed White House bid
Harris last year took the plunge into the crowded field of contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. One of her key talking points was a promise to get tough on guns, by the power of the Presidential pen if needed.
“Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress a hundred days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws,” Harris said at an hour-long town hall event on CNN in April 2019. “If they fail to do it, then I will take executive action.”
Backing up her rhetoric with a prepared agenda on her campaign website that cited statistics largely provided by gun control groups, the Senator outlined her promised actions. Her Oval Office-directed push aimed to expand background checks to cover private gun transfers, gut legal protections against frivolous lawsuits directed at the firearms industry, expand the pool of those liable to lose their Second Amendment rights, and institute a fine system of up to $500,000 against “law-breaking gun corporations.”
During the CNN event, Harris said she would move to make federal gun regulators lower the boom, saying, “And, by the way, ATF – alcohol, tobacco, and firearms – they’ve been doing a lot of the ‘A’ and the ‘T’ but not much of the ‘F.’ And we need to fix that.”
Eight months after going hard on the right to keep and bear arms, Harris officially withdrew her candidacy, polling low nationally among likely voters.
President Trump on Tuesday said he was surprised that Biden picked Harris, noting she did very poorly in the Democratic Primary and said things during caucus debates that were "horrible" about the former Vice President.
Reaction from the 2A community
Just as groups like Bloomberg-backed Everytown reacted with joy to the news of Harris joining the Biden campaign, pro-gun organizations had a different take on the move.
"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will dismantle the Second Amendment," said the NRA flatly on social media.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade group for the American gun industry, talked to Guns.com on Harris and made no bones about her track record.
"Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate makes this ticket the most serious threat to American Second Amendment rights ever faced in a presidential election," said Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the NSSF. "We should expect that she would attempt to bring California-style gun control to the rest of America."
"Senator Harris offered America her plans on what she would do to bind Second Amendment rights and hobble the firearm industry," said Oliva. "She has yet to explain to voters how she would hold criminals accountable for their misuse of firearms."