As a recent college graduate who founded Students for Trump from my freshman dorm room, I remain active on college campuses today as co-chair of Turning Point Action. Everywhere I go, I meet young people who are closely following events in Richmond. Many of them are genuinely scared police are coming for their guns. During our lifetime, we’ve watched lawmakers chip away at our rights, and we are here to say, “Not today, Gov. Northam. Not today.”
Like many in my generation, I didn’t grow up with firearms. I was introduced to them in a high school ROTC program, which focused heavily on the Constitution. I learned the basics of firearms and self-defense. Perhaps more importantly, that class taught me the Second Amendment guarantees all the other rights in the Constitution.
As I visit with college students across the country, I am struck by how informed and educated they are about their rights. We may be young and inexperienced, but we know what’s going on around the world. In Hong Kong and Venezuela, we watch governments oppress their unarmed citizens. In our own country, we watch as state and local politicians exploit tragedies to pass more gun control laws. We watch New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg buy his way into power and influence across the country.
We see that overnight in Virginia, thousands of law-abiding gun owners will become felons for simply owning American’s most popular all-purpose rifle, the AR-15. Gun control advocates like to call it an “assault rifle” because it sounds scary. But they can’t even define what it is. Gov. Ralph Northam would criminalize law-abiding gun owners who don’t first seek government permission to loan a handgun to a close friend for self-protection, or share a shotgun with a buddy while hunting. Under Northam’s gun control schemes, families would be forced to store firearms according to strict government mandates that may leave them vulnerable.
And then we hear a Virginia congressman propose calling in the National Guard to enforce any new gun laws. We hear Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee claim that an AR-15 is “as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving.” I checked with U-Haul; their medium-sized box can hold up to 65 pounds. I guess she’s saying an AR-15 weighs 650 pounds. We hear Beto O’Rourke say, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15s.”
The people that are least informed on the issue are the ones wanting to tell us what to do with our firearms. I don’t think so.
My generation knows that leaving a single mother defenseless to protect herself and her children isn’t the solution. We know that banning standard capacity magazines won’t stop criminals from getting them. We know that banning firearms suppressors won’t stop the next crazy gunman. Heck, not a single one of Gov. Northam’s gun control schemes would have stopped the Virginia Beach gunman from doing what he did last summer. We know that gun control doesn’t work.
But we know what does work: holding violent criminals accountable. About 20 years ago, Richmond held the dubious distinction of being the murder capital of the nation. That all changed under Project Exile, a program in which federal authorities aggressively prosecuted armed criminals. The results were immediate and dramatic. Project Exile resulted in a 45 percent decline in homicides and a 30 percent decline in armed robberies in just one year. Enforcement — coupled with public awareness campaigns — works.
Young people are fed up with politicians who exploit tragedies to push more failed gun control schemes. We’ve spent our youth watching politicians chip away at our rights. We will not stand idly by and let this continue. My generation is engaged, energized, and willing to stand up and fight for our rights in Virginia, and around the country. We are not only watching and listening to everything unfolding in Richmond, we engaged in this fight. Many of us are proud to be part of the NRA’s new student group, Students For 2A. We will never let a tyrannical government take away our rights.
Ryan Fournier is co-chair of Turning Point Action and founder of Students for Trump. He is also active with the NRA’s Students For 2A. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.