It’s an election year, and Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp is facing re-election in an increasingly red state as one of the most endangered incumbents in the Senate.
So now Heitkamp is suddenly talking about the importance of the 2nd amendment. Because that sort of thing will play well in North Dakota which has (according to this data from 2015) a higher rate of gun ownership than Texas.
Heitkamp told an audience in California that the right to keep and bear arms is as important as, uh, the right to an abortion:
“I think sometimes people have a diminished sense of the Second Amendment,” Heitkamp told her audience this week during a Women Rule podcast taping in Los Angeles.
She acknowledged the political climate in California, noting that her views “might make everybody kind of groan who sees the tragedy that’s happened in this country, as it relates to gun violence.” The audience visibly tensed as Heitkamp continued to push her perspective, at some points audibly questioning her reasoning.
But the senator explained that she herself has “a real kind of visceral reaction to the lack of appreciation – or understanding – about how people feel about the Second Amendment, and how people feel about restrictions on the Second Amendment.” Heitkamp compared her feelings to those of abortion-rights supporters: “Restrictions on your reproductive rights – think about how strongly you feel about evaluating those restrictions. That’s how strongly people in North Dakota and Indiana and other places feel about restricting their Second Amendment.”
The full audio of this podcast will be available here at some point. It wasn’t posted as I write this.
Anyway, Heitkamp’s pronouncements of about the importance of the 2nd amendment ring hollow.
For one thing, look at the way she formulates her defense of the 2nd amendment. She phrases her support as a recognition of what “how people feel about the 2nd amendment.” She’s not talking about her personal feelings, based on the words she’s using. She’s talking about other people’s views. No doubt all the gun-owning North Dakotans she’d like to vote for her.
Also problematic for Heitkamp’s pro-gun arguments is her support for denying Americans the ability to purchase firearms because of their inclusion on a secret government list.
Heitkamp has co-sponsored, along with Maine Senator Susan Collins, a bill which would remove gun rights from people on the government’s no-fly list. It’s called the “no fly, no buy” bill, and it’s hardly the sort of proposal someone who believes in gun rights would support.
The legislation Heitkamp backs would allow the government to use a secret list (you have no way to find out if you’re on it or not) to block gun purchases. Heitkamp has argued that a provision in the legislation allowing those denied the ability to purchase a gun to have a hearing in front of a judge satisfies the constitution’s mandate for due process.
Except, being asked to prove you’re innocent after the government has already denied your rights is not how due process works.
Would Senator Heitkamp, since she sees similarities between abortion and gun rights, support legislation denying women the ability to get an abortion until the prove to the government they should be allowed to get one?
Heitkamp says, in a high profile way that’s no doubt calculated political affect, that she supports gun rights. Yet legislation she not just supports but co-sponsors would allow the government to treat those rights in so cavalier a fashion that even the ACLU objects.
Put simply, Heitkamp cannot claim to be a supporter of the 2nd amendment while supporting legislation which would allow the government to deny you those rights through a process so arbitrary it has entrapped members of Congress in the past.