“Congressman Ike Skelton announced his endorsement by National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund Thursday,” PoliticMo.com tells us.
We’re told he has an “A” rating from the group. Indeed, they give the incumbent Democrat strong praise:
“Ike Skelton is a steadfast supporter of freedom,” said Chris Cox, chairman of the NRA Political Victory Fund. “We ask all Missouri gun owners, hunters and NRA members in the 4th Congressional District to vote Ike Skelton for Congress on November 2nd.”
The headline tells us he’s attacking his Republican opponent, Vicky Hartzler as “anti-gun.”
Why? Is it true?
He said Hartzler “voted against a freedom” for Missourians when she voted against putting conceal and carry to a vote on a ballot measure.
Why would Hartzler do that? Here’s her explanation:
I opposed the legislation because I felt conceal-and-carry should be the right of individual Missourians and not subjected to a referendum. I took that principled stand and was praised for doing so by gun lobbyists, gun owners and the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance. It was due to that strong stand in favor of Second Amendment rights that caused the Alliance to endorse me in this year’s campaign.
One who places principle over political “pragmatism” could make a strong case for that, because it happens to be true–unalienable rights are not subject to majority rule.
So what’s going on and who should Missouri gun owners vote for in this contest, which Capitol Confidential calls one of “the ten most important House races of 2010”? Western Missouri Shooters Alliance backs Hartzler. NRA says they like Ike.
Gun Owners of America’s review of Skelton’s gun record is not as glowing. They give the career congressman (he’s held the office since 1976) a “C.”
Why so much lower than NRA’s grade? The “Congress” tab on GOA’s website allows you to access information on legislators and their key votes. In Skelton’s case, click the GOA chart in this column’s main photo to see key votes he was scored on and visit the links on the GOA site for vote details (unfortunately, their site does not allow for me to provide direct links here).
NRA, we are constantly reminded, is “a single issue organization.” It appears on this single issue, Mr. Skelton’s record bears closer scrutiny. And in fairness, make sure that scrutiny includes more neutral sources–like Project Vote Smart.
But the thing is, NRA’s Cox didn’t describe Skelton in terms confined to just that one issue. He called him “a steadfast supporter of freedom.”
Shall we test that?
Skelton’s overall record, from The Washington Post:
Voted with Democratic Party: 94.6 percent of 1487 votes.
A Skelton political endorsement, from The Huffington Post:
Rep. Ike Skelton is backing Hillary Clinton for president.
I could go on, but the point is made.
Here’s another one, that can’t be made strongly enough: Don’t just automatically accept ratings, recommendations, endorsements from NRA, GOA, grassroots groups, opinionated agitators (guilty)…from anyone. As we see from this example, there’s often a lot of over-the-top hyperbole, alternative explanations and ways to look at things…
Yes, certainly use special interest group ratings and endorsements as guides. But it’s our civic duty–if we’re presuming to impose our will on the rest of society through our votes–to do the best we can to ascertain the facts by doing some research of our own.
UPDATE: GOA endorses Hartzler.
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