- - Thursday, November 3, 2016

As the country races to the finish line marked by the November 8 election day, media pundits, pollsters and operatives for both the Democratic and Republican parties appear to have overlooked a secret weapon about to be unleashed. That weapon, which will appear at the polls, is the army of enthusiastic gun owners found everywhere, but particularly in the swing states.

These aren’t the flannel-clad coterie of hunters who traditionally lean to the right, but who tend to be almost blase about the outcome of elections, believing that their hunting guns won’t attract the attention of the Clinton gun-ban machine she has promised to unleash. (They may want to research the “Australian model” Hillary Clinton said we should consider for the United States, where hunters’ semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and their pump-action “hunting” shotguns were confiscated from law-abiding citizens who faced prison if they didn’t “voluntarily” turn in their guns.) No, this army of gun owners is something new, something younger, something unrecognizable to Democrats, and it’s very much motivated to preserve the right to have guns for personal safety.

Ah. There it is. Personal safety. Not hunting. Not target shooting. Not collecting. More than twelve million Americans have jumped through the hoops and paid the money to get carry permits, and all reports show that fully a third of those getting those permits are women. Yes, women. Carrying guns. To protect themselves and their children. The motivation is as personal as it gets — to stay alive and protect offspring, because these women know that the police will not be there when they need them. The assault, abduction, or whatever, will be over before the police arrive.

When Mrs. Clinton says “The Supreme Court got it wrong” on the Second Amendment, she’s talking about the Heller decision, which confirmed there is an individual right to own a gun. Prior to that, it was the position of the U.S. Justice Department that no person has a right to own a gun. Rather, DOJ argued in various cases, that right is reserved to the government.

Mrs. Clinton has made gun control and gun bans a center point of her campaign, and has even teased the idea of wide-scale confiscation, a la Australia. Imagine the reactions of those who are called “gun owner 2.0” to attempts to disarm mothers committed to protecting their families. In several of the swing states, gun ownership rates remain high, as are the number of carry permits, and in some, no permit at all is required to carry a firearm for protection.

Traditionally, gun owners don’t poll well. Over the last two decades, pollsters badly undercounted the conviction of gun owners who vote to protect their individual right to own and carry guns.

Gun owners do, however, understand that when Hillary says she doesn’t want to “do away” with the Second Amendment, that the careful Clinton parsing of words continues. Her calls for the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act (PLCAA) is, in fact, a nuclear attack on the Second Amendment. That law was passed by Congress in response to a Clinton White House-led effort to destroy all gun companies in the United States. The method was to sue the companies for the misuse, by a third party, of legally-produced, nondefective, high-regulated products. Had a single one of the more than 30 lawsuits filed by various cities succeeded, all gun makers would have shut their doors. No company would have been able to get insurance against claims hoping to hold them responsible for the illegal misuse of their products. (Think of holding Ford responsible for the costs of drunken driving.)

Because she was at the center of this scorched-Earth assault on legal firearms ownership 22 years ago, Mrs. Clinton clearly understands the repeal of PLCAA would be the end of firearms manufacturing in the United States. Gun owners understand this, as well.

Swing states Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida have high rates of gun ownership. They have hundreds of thousands, or in the case of Florida, more than a million, people with carry permits.

These are people motivated by the safety of themselves and their families. Women who have decided to stand up for themselves and not be victims. Young adults who make up the gun owner 2.0 population.

Emails and vulgar language pale in significance to the prospect of keeping one’s family safe. These are the millions of voters who may well have been ignored by pollsters who haven’t seen the wave of “guntry clubs” being built, the families shooting together, the women taking advanced classes in personal protection and gun fighting.

These are the men and women of Donald Trump’s silent, armed, army. They will vote. They will act to retain control of their own safety.

Tom Gresham hosts the nationally-syndicated radio talk show “Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk.”

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