As the final election tallies come in, with only a few House races still yet to be determined, and the 2008 presidential race begun, a few things are clear: The 2006 midterm elections were a referendum on Iraq and the Republican leadership of Congress. It was a “thumping,” as the President acknowledged. But what they were not, as some on the far left would have you believe, was a mandate for more gun control.
With control of the Senate and House of Representatives shifting to Democrats, anti-gun zealots have claimed credit for the election results in an attempt to strengthen their political capital with new congressional leaders. Their goal is advancing the gun control agenda, including a return to a ban on some semi-automatic firearms based on cosmetic appearances (a ban which did nothing to prevent crime), an outright ban on civilian ownership of handguns, national registration and licensing. The list goes on.
Sportsmen, hunters and firearms owners may be left with a feeling of uneasiness if they read the anti-gun propaganda spewing forth from the likes of the Brady Campaign and the deceptively named American Hunters & Shooters Association. While sportsmen, hunters and gun owners must remain vigilant, the anti’s rhetoric is, as always, overheated.
The past four federal election cycles have shown the awesome voting power of America’s sportsmen, hunters and gun owners. Bill Clinton admitted in his memoirs that the gun issue cost Al Gore the White House in 2000 and Sen. John Kerry’s pathetically staged “goose hunt” in Ohio just days before the 2004 presidential election cooked his. During the 2006 midterm elections, no candidates, save a few historically anti-gun politicians, ran on anti-gun platforms. The Democrats recruited candidates based, at least in part, on their pro-hunting, pro-2nd Amendment positions.
In the Senate, for example, control swung to the Democrats with the election of pro-gun Jim Webb in Virginia, John Tester in Montana and Bob Casey in Pennsylvania. Even Sen.-elect Claire McCaskill of Missouri claimed to be pro-gun on the campaign trial. On the other side of the aisle, several prominent anti-gun senators were sent home, including Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and Mike DeWine of Ohio, both of whom voted against legislation last year to block frivolous lawsuits against firearms manufacturers. The bill passed with broad bi-partisan support, including Sen. Harry Reid, the incoming Senate majority leader.
In the House of Representatives, of the 30-plus seats the Democrats picked-up, more than half of those elected ran as pro-gun candidates. In Indiana, for example, three pro-gun Republicans (Chris Chocola, John Hostettler, Mike Sodrel) were replaced with three pro-gun democrats (Joseph Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, Baron Hill). Undoubtedly, in the House several leading anti-gun legislators will assume the chairmanship of important committees. For example, Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.) will chair the Judiciary Committee and anti-gun zealot Nancy Pelosi will be the next speaker. But, in the House, pro-gun “Blue Dog” Democrats will be the key voting block in the 110th.
The recruiting of conservative, pro-gun candidates by the liberal Democrat campaign committee chairmen, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.), was a calculated political move to take guns off the table because the liberal leadership now recognizes it is a political loser for them since most Americans don’t want more failed gun control that just harasses the law abiding and is ignored by criminals.
The Second Amendment and preserving and fostering America’s hunting heritage is not, however, a “Republican vs. Democrat” issue. Chafee and Lincoln are not the only anti-gun Republicans. After all, 2008 presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, while mayor of New York, sued members of the firearms industry in June of 2000, after dropping out of the Senate race against Hillary Clinton. It was one of the first official acts of the “kinder, gentler Rudy.” His successor, Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg, also rumored to be considering tossing his hat in the ring for 2008, has continued the city’s lawsuit against the industry.
In fact, Bloomberg has made exporting New York-style gun control to the rest of America the central focus of his second administration by forming the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. Hypocritically, Bloomberg has refused calls to follow the lead of the firearms industry to denounce one of the coalition’s founding members, Mayor Frank Melton of Jackson, Miss., after he was thrice convicted earlier this month of illegally possessing a firearm.
Like sportsmen, hunters and gun owners, the firearms industry will with great vigilance watch the votes of the newly elected “pro-gun” members of Congress to ensure they are true to their word. If not, sportsmen, hunters and gun owners have proven their ability to hold politicians accountable.