When you talk to tried-and-true, free-market, individual-rights, Second Amendment-defending, freedom-loving Republicans about Rep. Vern Buchanan and his conservative bona fides, their voice volume always drops lower and softer, their eyebrows go up, and then they look around to see if anyone is listening.
They all know it but are afraid to say it aloud: He’s a RINO.
Republican in name only.
Many Republicans who vote every two years for Buchanan know he tightrope-walks on the moderate fence and that as the years have passed since his first election in 2006, these Republicans often say in a low tones, “We need to find a strong conservative to run against Vern.”
This isn’t just gossip or a false perception — Buchanan’s moderateness. Two taxpayer watchdog groups in Washington that track congressional votes score Buchanan with a “C” — middle of the road.
The National Taxpayers Union, which tracks votes on taxes, spending and national debt, gives Buchanan a lifetime score of 68, or C+/Satisfactory.
The Club for Growth, a self-described defender of economic freedom, gives Buchanan a lifetime score of 58%, 65% in the 2019 Congress.
(In contrast, freshman Republican Rep. Greg Steube, who represents east Manatee and Sarasota counties, scored A’s for his voting in 2019 — a 100% ranking from the Club for Growth and 90% from the National Taxpayers Union.)
Buchanan last week really triggered conversations among conservatives when they saw he was among eight Republicans who voted with Democrats to pass H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks prior to gun transfers and gun sales among private parties. Immediate family members would be excluded.
Proponents of this legislation say it will close “the gun-show loophole.” Sellers and buyers at gun shows have not been required to conduct background checks, unlike retail gun dealers.
To explain his vote, Buchanan sent out the statement:
“Our laws cannot be effective if there are gaping loopholes that allow criminals and deranged individuals to purchase firearms at gun shows or over the internet without being subject to background checks,” Buchanan said. “Today I voted for H.R. 8 to close these loopholes — a proposal supported by more than 90% of gun owners in America, according to respected polling organizations.”
Blowing with the popular wind, not the evidence (see sidebar).
What’s more, every gun owner knows the long-term strategy in Congress. Little by little, year by year, anti-Second Amendment legislators will peck away at gun rights and the Second Amendment until they ultimately get what they want: for the government to be the only gun owners in America.
H.R. 8 is just one of the steps, and Buchanan fell for it — siding with the false argument that restricting access to guns for law-abiding citizens will reduce crime and violence perpetrated by evil and deranged people.
Ask any sheriff or police chief. He or she will tell you bad people will always find a way to get a gun.