Conventional wisdom holds that Republicans reliably protect the Second Amendment. In fact, one of the reasons conservatives said it was imperative to elect Donald Trump was that he would defend our right to keep and bear arms. A Hillary White House would shred the Second Amendment and aggressively come after our guns — so we were told.
But the reality doesn’t stack up to the rhetoric. In fact, during Trump’s first term, ATF enforcement of federal gun laws increased in every single category compared to the last year Obama was in the White House.
We can start with the number of firearms cases investigated. In 2016, the final year of the Obama administration, the ATF investigated 31,853 firearms cases. During Trump’s first year, the agency investigated 35,302. That’s 3,349 more firearms cases than under Obama, a 10.81% increase. (See Footnote 1)
We see similar increases in other enforcement categories during Trump’s first year. There were 786 more cases recommended for prosecution, 789 more indicted cases, and 630 more defendants convicted. (See Footnote 2)
The ATF also investigates arson, cases involving explosives, and alcohol and tobacco cases, but these make up a small percentage of the total. Under Trump, 92% of the cases investigated by the ATF involved firearms. It was slightly less under Obama – 90%.
ATF enforcement of federal gun laws under Trump increased at roughly the same trajectory as it did during the last three years of Obama’s second term. In other words, the NRA-backed, GOP protector of the Second Amendment was no better than the Democratic Party gun-grabber, and continued to ramp up enforcement of federal gun control.