Kamala Harris’s Gun-Control Policies Are Incoherent

Senator Kamala Harris (D, Calif.) in Houston, Texas, April 24, 2019. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

Kamala Harris wants to ban the importation of what she calls AR-15-style assault weapons. Per Politico:

At a presidential campaign event Wednesday in New Hampshire, Harris pledged to take executive action banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons — a move that came just three weeks after the California Democrat rolled out her sweeping gun-control proposal.

Er, why? The majority of AR-15-style weapons — also known as the most commonly owned rifles in America — are built in . . . America. Suppose that Harris became president and enjoyed the authority to prevent the importation of whatever arbitrary set of features she found the time to string together into an order. What exactly does she think would happen next? The demand for modern sporting rifles is pretty high already, and it would presumably get considerably higher if the President of the United States were running around explaining that she hoped to ban them. Should imports be banned, that demand would be met by American manufacturers. And then what?

There are a few potential explanations for this policy. Harris might believe that the misuse of privately owned firearms is worse if those firearms are sourced from abroad. She might believe that foreign-sourced firearms are cheaper, and thus hope to price out poorer people from the market. Or, most likely, she might know full well that this would do nothing, but know also that her audience is so stupendously ignorant about firearms that it can be placated by any form of base saber-rattling, providing it is accompanied by a raised eyebrow.

As an elementary political matter, it seems to me that Harris’s policy, if implemented, would actually marginally weaken the gun-control movement’s position, in that it would (a) lead to a massive increase in the number of AR-15-style weapons in circulation, and (b) lead to an increase in the number of Americans who were involved in their production, and thus to an increase in the number of voters who are against a ban. Workers at foreign companies can’t vote in America. Workers at American companies can.

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