Things look a lot better for the Second Amendment than they do for the Republican party. A race-by-race analysis of the Senate suggests that, while party control of the Senate could change, the Senate is very likely to retain a pro-gun working majority.
A 50-seat tsunami in the House would result in a gain of over two dozen seats for anti-gun forces; the more realistic scenario is a total Democratic gain of 30 of less, with about half of the freshman Democrats being anti-gun. This would leave the House with a fairly comfortable pro-Second Amendment majority.
In the governors’ mansions, gun owners could even come out ahead on this election, if pro-Second Amendment candidates hold on in some close races; gun owners already have one big gain sewed up, since Ohio’s governorship will be changing from an anti-gun Republican Taft to a pro-gun Democrat Strickland.
In Congress, changes in party control would have a significant effect on gun rights. Senate-Majority-Leader-in-waiting Harry Reid has a good record on gun issues, and played a major role in the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act. Yet although a Democratic Senate would contain more pro-gun rights Democrats than the chamber has seen for over 15 years, Reid would still be beholden to a caucus in which anti-gun senators would be a very large majority, and in which all presidential contenders would have a poor (Feingold, Bayh) to terrible (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama) record on gun issues.
Significantly, while a Democratic Senate might have a pro-gun floor majority, it would not invoke the nuclear option against a Supreme Court nomination filibuster. This wouldn’t matter much anyway if President Bush were to nominate Alberto Gonzales, whom Second Amendment activists would have little reason to support, but there is reason to hope that the president might choose a better nominee.
Although the floor of the U.S. House will still have a pro-gun majority, a Speaker Pelosi, with her perfect anti-gun voting record, would almost certainly bring forward anti-gun bills when she decided the time was ripe. John Conyers, as chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Louise Slaughter, as chair of the Rules Committee, would ensure that no pro-Second Amendment legislation was ever brought to the floor, except in the very unlikely event that a majority of the entire House signed a discharge petition.
President Bush has been good about signing pro-gun legislation which has been put on his desk, but this does not mean that he would exert meaningful pressure, pro or con, on gun legislation, or that he would veto any gun control measure which could pass both houses.