2024 Republican Platform Drops Gun-Rights Promises

In its first official platform since 2016, the Grand Old Party (GOP) slashed all mention of its gun policy positions.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) Platform Committee voted 84-to-18 on Monday to adopt the new 2024 platform language after skipping the process entirely in 2020. The finalized document leans into former President Donald Trump’s “America First” outlook and parrots many of his stances on issues ranging from immigration to trade. However, it also minimized the party’s emphasis on gun policy compared to its previous platform.

The entire platform discusses gun rights just once, in a preamble statement about the party’s dedication to defending “our fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to keep and bear arms.” The final product omits any discussion of tangible gun policy ideas.

The Republican Party platform’s downplaying of Second Amendment issues comes as the gun-rights movement finds itself in a precarious position politically. As guns have become increasingly polarized along party lines, gun-rights supporters have found themselves reliant on Republicans for political support. President Joe Biden has made gun control a fixture of his tenure in office and is already campaigning on even more sweeping proposals, including a ban on sales of the popular AR-15, in a potential second term. At the same time, while the GOP’s current standard-bearer has continued to seek the support of the National Rifle Association and make promises in speeches to the group, he has been fickle on gun policy at times. His felony convictions also mean he can no longer legally own or possess firearms.

The 2024 platform’s cursory discussion of gun policy priorities marks a significant departure from the party’s 2016 platform. The party previously dedicated an entire section to the Second Amendment. In it, the GOP listed specific pro-gun policies it wanted to enact, as well as gun-control measures it opposed.

“We support firearm reciprocity legislation to recognize the right of law-abiding Americans to carry firearms to protect themselves and their families in all 50 states,” the 2016 document reads. “We support constitutional carry statutes and salute the states that have passed them.”

“We oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle,” the section continues. “We also oppose any effort to deprive individuals of their right to keep and bear arms without due process of law. We condemn frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers and the current Administration’s illegal harassment of firearm dealers. We oppose federal licensing or registration of law-abiding gun owners, registration of ammunition, and restoration of the ill-fated Clinton gun ban.”

The RNC did not respond to a request for comment about the party dropping gun-rights priorities from its platform. However, in a press release, RNC Chairman Michael Whatley and co-chair Lara Trump called the  “a bold roadmap that will undo the devastating damage that Joe Biden’s far-left policies have done to this country, power President Trump to a historic victory in November, and Make America Great Again.”

The GOP’s old platform stood in stark contrast to the 2020 Democratic party platform, which dedicated several paragraphs to endorsing gun-control proposals aimed at “Ending the Epidemic of Gun Violence.”

“Democrats will enact universal background checks, end online sales of guns and ammunition, close dangerous loopholes that currently allow stalkers, abusive partners, and some individuals convicted of assault or battery to buy and possess firearms, and adequately fund the federal background check system,” the 2020 platform reads. “Democrats will ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We will incentivize states to enact licensing requirements for owning firearms and extreme risk protection order laws that allow courts to temporarily remove guns from the possession of those who are a danger to themselves or others.”

The GOP’s 2024 platform being nearly silent on gun policy was not the only instance of the party leaning away from its traditional issues and stances. The updated platform also featured notably softened language on abortion restrictions, a move that reflects former President Trump’s recent sidelining of the pro-life movement. While the party’s 2016 platform endorsed a federal abortion ban after 20 weeks, the updated document codified Trump’s preference to leave the issue to the states. It also endorsed protections for birth control and fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The updated platform also removed the party’s previous opposition to same-sex marriage, its emphasis on reducing the national debt, and its vision for entitlements reform. Instead, the platform explicitly called for the complete protection of Social Security and Medicare without any cuts or retirement age adjustments, a longtime Trump priority.

The Trump campaign celebrated the final draft of the platform and emphasized the former President’s personal influence on its contents.

“President Trump’s 2024 Republican Party Platform articulates his vision to Make America Great Again in a way that is concise and digestible for every voter,” Trump Campaign Senior Advisors Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a press release. “While Joe Biden and Democrats argue about who will be at the top of their ticket and have implemented policies that have raised prices on everyday families, opened the floodgates to migrant crime via wide-open borders, shackled American energy with red tape forced by Washington bureaucrats, and sewn chaos across the world through weak foreign policy, President Trump will Make America Great Again through these America First principles.”

The 2024 platform will officially be adopted by the party at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee next week.