Political Realities Force Democrats to Support Gun Bill

As the Senate moves closer to a vote this week on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, gun-rights advocates are jubilant over the bipartisan support for the bill, which bans frivolous lawsuits targeting gun manufactures.

National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said 2nd Amendment supporters have played a large role in politicians’ changing attitudes toward firearms. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (S 397), for example, has 56 co-sponsors in the Senate and 257 co-sponsors in the House–more than enough votes to pass. It is sponsored by Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R.-Fla.).

The bill shields gun manufacturers from lawsuits seeking damages from the unlawful misuse of a firearm by a third party. Despite similar support last year, liberal Senate Democrats succeeded in derailing the bill by attaching amendments reauthorizing the “assault weapons” ban.

“I think there’s been a sea change in this issue since the ’90s,” LaPierre said at the news conference last week. “I believe that clearly, if you look across the board, the American public has made it very clear that they believe it is their right to own a firearm, they don’t like politicians messing with their freedom and they want to make the choice on their own whether they own one or not.”

LaPierre said politicians are cognizant of the power the 2nd Amendment holds, particularly during elections. Whether a candidate supports gun rights during a campaign is significant, he said.

“I think it’s really become a historical fact that it’s become bad politics to be on the wrong side of the 2nd Amendment at election time in this country,” said LaPierre, noting that both liberal Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) and former President Bill Clinton acknowledged a candidate must support the 2nd Amendment to win the presidency.

Kerry recognized such power when he played the 2nd Amendment as campaign issue, using brochures and other propaganda in key election states, LaPierre said. He did all this despite voting against gun rights for 20 years in elective office.

“There’s only one reason they [Kerry’s campaign] did this and [it is because] they know where the American public is on this issue,” LaPierre said, “and they were playing to the opinion of the American public, which is: ‘I support the 2nd Amendment. I have a right to own a gun. Politicians, stay out of my life.’”

He continued citing Clinton’s recognition of the importance of the issue: “Even President Clinton said he thought that the gun issue elected President Bush in 2000 and defeated Al Gore. In fact, President Clinton said on [the] Charlie Rose [Show on June 23, 2004] he thought it made a difference in anywhere from three to six states.”