On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) appeared on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing” with Dana Perino.
During the segment, Rep. Kinzinger discussed his support for “red flag” laws, as well as other policy proposals that he believes would potentially help curtail mass shootings. He also spoke about the dangers of overreach as it pertains to such laws, and the culture shift he believes to be witnessing whereby a growing contingent of younger voters might seek to have the Second Amendment overturned.
KINZINGER: I think, on the law side, you already have to be 21 to buy a handgun, by the way. And what’s happened is, it was 18 to buy a long-gun, really, before all these ARs and stuff started coming, so I think raise that to 21. You can have states with exceptions to say, for a certain shotgun, for hunting, and whatnot, and protecting your home. But, you have too many kids that have a grudge in high school, or just out of high school, and we’ve seen it too many times where they go out, they can’t buy a handgun, they buy an AR, and they come in and take that out. So I think that’s a realistic thing.
When Perino asked Kinzinger if there is legislation that Republicans and Democrats could both get behind, he replied:
I think the red flag laws. Every law that you put forward, there’s going to be some instance where you can say this is unfair to somebody, and a red flag law is just like that. There could be people temporarily deprived of rights unnecessarily, and we should have mitigating factors in place for that. But as a society, you can never come up with a perfect solution, so the answer to that isn’t to do nothing, it’s to say, look, if somebody appears to be willing to go do things like shoot up a festival in California or Dayton or somewhere in Texas, then you should be able to put a red flag on them and have that investigated. That’s not an ending of due process, it’s simply looking at it and saying, let’s make sure this is safe. That’s how we protect our Second Amendment right.
Perino challenged Kinzinger on how he would respond to Second Amendment defenders who might push back on his proposals:
PERINO: I think some people, defenders of the Second Amendment would say, but … the right is ours, given to us in the Constitution. Because some people abuse it, why do we then have to change our approach to that right? How would you answer that?
KINZINGER: I agree with all of the arguments, frankly. It is unfair that you would deny somebody a right by putting a restriction in place because 99.9% … I own an AR. 99.99% of us are responsible with these guns. But as a society, we can’t predict individual behavior. We have to make societal differences and changes, and this is one that I think can begin to make some of the difference.
But … attitudes are turning so much against the Second Amendment that the thing that we risk is that there will be a serious movement to not just create restrictions but to overturn the whole amendments. Now, by the way, your freedom of religion is protected by the First [Amendment]. If we begin to start to repeal the Bill of Rights, who knows where this whole thing goes…
Earlier in the segment, Kinzinger made a similar statement:
As a Second Amendment guy, we have to be willing to say what can we do to help alleviate some of these issues to preserve our rights, because this next generation, I’ve got to tell you, Dana, people think they’re going to become conservative when they’re older. They are very decided on this issue, and when they take power, or they take a seat from me or something like that, it’s going to be a very different outcome.
The congressman added that what progressives don’t seem to understand is that these shootings are also an issue of societal moral rot:
…the Left needs to understand, this really is an issue of the heart. This is a spiritual rot in this country, a moral issue, where we no longer value life and people feel like the only way they can be heard is to go out and make this name for themselves, and then the media doesn’t do any favors by publishing manifestos and publishing names.
As Rep. Kinzinger seemed to express in passing, many conservatives are concerned that even at their best, “red flag” laws, otherwise known as “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” (GVRO), pose a threat to constitutional protections such as due process.
Daily Wire Editor-at-Large Josh Hammer has articulated as much:
GVRO advocates argue that the burden of proof must still fall on the party petitioning to confiscate the respondent’s firearms — but the procedural reality is that the petitioner is still the first mover and, after that initial move, the onus shifts to the respondent to demonstrate his innocence. That is hardly an exemplary means by which to dispense with a cherished constitutional liberty, and it is made even more egregious in the context of “emergency” ex parte (i.e., one-party) proceedings — which GVRO advocates concede will be a reality.
Further, Hammer wonders if conservatives would be comfortable with the idea of judges who may have political motivations adjudicating GVRO cases:
The potential for abuse here is astounding. In blue states especially, but also in many red states, anti-gun fanatics populate large swaths of the judiciary. These black-robed oracles will oftentimes be massively incentivized to grant very weak petitioners the GVROs they seek, due mostly to an innately held animus against gun rights.
Kinzinger’s proposal that sales of semi-automatic rifles be age-restricted to 21, which he wrote about in a recent op-ed, is also somewhat dubious. According to a comprehensive data set compiled by Mother Jones, out of the 114 mass shootings committed since 1982, only 16 were committed by persons under the age of 21.
Regarding a ban on high-capacity magazines, as proposed by Kinzinger, CATO Institute’s Matthew Larosiere notes that aside from numerous other issues, including but not limited to constitutional ones, such a ban would likely prove useless in practice.
As an example, Larosiere cites the Virginia Tech and Luby’s Cafeteria shootings, in which men using only handguns reloaded an exceptional number of times, and still managed to kill 32 and 24 people, respectively:
In the Virginia Tech shooting, for several years the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the shooter changed magazines a total of 17 times during the course of his rampage, rapidly and frequently exchanging 10-round magazines that would be compliant with most magazine bans. Similarly, in the 1991 shooting at Luby’s cafeteria, which left 24 dead, the shooter changed magazines again and again, yet patrons had no opportunity to escape.
He does note that a shooter can theoretically be stopped in between, citing the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona: “There have been rare instances in which a shooter could be stopped before reloading. During the 2011 attack on U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, for example, the shooter was tackled by bystanders after dropping a fresh magazine during a reload.”
Lastly, according to Gallup and Pew Research polling, people between the ages of 18 and 36 hold approximately the same views on gun control as older generations. Kim Parker, Pew’s director of social trends research, told NPR shortly after the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:
What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels.
“…past polling suggests that people younger than 30 in the U.S. are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues,” adds NPR.
The Daily Wire reached out to Rep. Kinzinger for comment, but the congressman is out on “military duty,” according to his communications director.