November 2010

Downrange: November 2010

Historic Election For Gunnies

By the time you read this, the midterm elections will have come and gone. Regardless of the outcomes, it will have been a historic election year. What has already happened on the front lines of the gun-rights movement is amazing. Here are a few things to note:

The National Rifle Association has taken lots of dings from inside

Todd Woodard

and outside its membership. NRA sought, and got, special provisions in the unpassed Disclose Act, which would have compelled many groups to disclose the names of their contributors if those groups sought to exercise their 1st Amendment rights to speak out politically. But NRA would have been exempt. That lead to heavy criticism of NRA by Gun Owners of America and other gun groups, who said the NRA sold out the broader gun-owning community.

NRA also came under fire from some commentators, such as David Codrea, who challenged the group’s political endorsements as outdated and illogical. Probably the greatest contretemps in that area was NRA’s long-considered endorsement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Ultimately, NRA backed away from Reid in his re-election bid, citing Reid’s support of anti-gun Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Another surprising twist was the criticism from the right of NRA’s endorsement and contributions to pro-gun Democrats. Wrote 2nd Amendment lawyer David Kopel, "While some conservatives wish that the NRA would not support pro-gun Democrats, the long-term survival of the right to keep and bear arms depends on gun rights having friends in both major parties. We saw what happened during the George H.W. Bush administration, when the White House believed that gun owners had nowhere else to go, and so Republicans could triangulate to support some anti-gun laws."

And in another head-shaker, A+-pro-gun Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) was heavily criticized by the Washington Republican establishment for endorsing Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Republican Senate primary. O’Donnell beat one of the most notoriously anti-gun Republican members of the House of Representatives, Mike Castle. Castle voted for, and even sponsored, legislation to ban guns, close down gun shows, and register gun owners.

Perhaps most surprising, at least to me, is the rightward push the Tea Party movement has put into the midterm elections. I have never seen more politicians hungering for the NRA’s endorsement and the backing of gunowners, either to cement conservative credentials, or for more liberal candidates, as a shield against conservative attacks. For once, and probably only once, it’s nice to be the prettiest girl at the dance.