Those who follow gun blogs know there’s a recurring debate between gun owners who prefer National Rifle Association political strategies and those who challenge them. I’d like to address a few of the more contentious points I see being raised on blogs and discussion boards:
Gun Owners of America grades candidates on issues that have nothing to do with the Second Amendment, for instance, they counted a vote against Candidate X because he/she voted for what they call “anti-gun Obamacare.” That has nothing to do with guns.
Harry Reid didn’t think so when he offered an amendment to the health care bill–one, incidentally, that would do nothing to protect gun owners caught afoul of any of the innumerable patchwork anti-gun edicts that exist throughout the land. And despite the claim that with this “victory” we have nothing else gun-related to worry about from the health care takeover, if one willfully defies it to get standing to challenge its Constitutionality (or even does not but is adjudicated willfully noncompliant anyway), a whole new opportunity to be convicted on felony charges and to become a “prohibited person”–barred from owning guns forever–has just been created.
Reaching out to “pro-gun” Democrats is prudent politics. The “R” in NRA does not stand for “Republican.”
I’m the last one to suggest undeserving Republicans should be supported because the Democrat will really hurt us. I’ve been out there for years asking what incentive they will ever have to change if we continue to vote for what our fear tells us is “the lesser of two evils.” Even if a Democrat opponent is anti-gun, to reward a Republican who does not deserve it simply guarantees more bad behavior–better to take the loss now and make an example for others to see. Realizing that most contests are separated by only a few percentage points, we can set the tone that we may not always have the juice to ensure a candidate wins an election, but we can damn well make sure they’ll lose it if they cross us.
Some recent examples of my warning against Republican betrayals:
- The riddle of Steele
- Why would Illinois gun owners vote for gungrabber Mark Kirk?
- Does Dan Lungren really deserve an NRA endorsement?
My concern with “pro-gun” Democrats is to make sure the totality of their actions is considered in assessing them. That includes their supporting candidates and nominees who are anti-gun. NRA recognized this when they declined to formally endorse Harry Reid. But scoring the Sotomayor and Kagan confirmation votes were exceptions–this criterion needs to be extended to giving aid and comfort to all anti-gunners, or we’re not getting a complete picture of the effects of their public actions. You can’t help my enemies subvert my interests and expect not to be judged on that. And while some will no doubt point out the “pragmatic” reality of party politics demands playing ball with the leadership, they have no workaround for this simple logic exercise: NRA said “Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history. Harry Reid supports Obama. Harry Reid supports someone NRA considers “the most anti-gun president in American history.” (This is just an example. Try substituting other names in the premises.)
NRA is a single issue organization, and cannot involve itself in other concerns.
So what was the recent DISCLOSE flap about? Or their earlier opposition to “campaign finance reform”?
Those were gun-related because of the impact they could have? Isn’t that the same rationale proponents of that argument condemn when GOA scores votes on tangentially-related bills?
I’ve embedded an ad NRA produced critical of Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (see left sidebar). In additon to mentioning “tak[ing] away your Second Amendment rights,” they (quite properly, in my opinion) warn against “politicians in Washington…pushing a radical agenda to take away your freedom” and against “bigger government, bigger Washington.”
To those who criticize GOA for essentially doing the same, and who say if they’re going to wander off the reservation they should change their mission to being a conservative lobby group instead of a gun group, I’d respond if NRA is going to adopt the slogan “Vote freedom first,” then stop limiting freedom to just one issue. Otherwise, change the slogan.
I don’t expect this will resolve anything between the two camps–if anything, activist gun owners will become even more entrenched in competing ideologies. All I can really do is recommend YOU investigate those wanting you to support them for yourself, and then act according to your conclusions, not to what I, NRA, GOA or anybody else would like you to believe.
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For more commentary on the right to keep and bear arms as it relates to the issues of the day, visit my blog, The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.