By Jeff Knox
Buckeye, AZ –-(Ammoland.com)- We in the rights movement have had a relatively easy go of things for the past 20 years or so.
Since the “Assault Weapons” Ban of 1994, the pendulum has been swinging mostly our way. There have been a few stumbles and some close calls, as well as a whole lot of missed opportunities in that time, but in general, we’ve gained ground. I fear that could be changing, and I fear this year’s elections could be a critical turning point.
My personal concerns were echoed in an email I received from the NRA this week. In it, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox declared that we are “within striking distance” of removing Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Chuck Schumer from control of the Senate, and replacing them with a “pro-Second Amendment majority.”
He goes on to point out that the deciding factor will be a few percentage points in a handful of close Senate races, and, of course, Cox followed up those statements with a suggestion that the best way to further these goals is with a generous donation to NRA’s lobbying division.
The problem is that NRA, like some establishment Republican groups, hasn’t been acting in line with their fundraising pitches.
We all know that Republicans must flip six seats to gain the majority in the Senate, and that, along with a couple of seats Republicans are at some risk of losing, there are only a handful of seats currently held by Democrats that Republicans have a chance at converting. All of those races are expected to be close, and each of them is critical.
One of those critical and extremely close races is the Alaska senate seat currently held by Democrat, Mark Begich. In that contest, NRA has not made an endorsement, but they have posted grades for the candidates. They gave Republican challenger Dan Sullivan a grade of ‘AQ’, which is a qualified ‘A’ grade based on Sullivan’s answers to a questionnaire. NRA gave Begich a grade of ‘A-’.
Those seemingly identical grades take the gun vote right out of the race, and add to Begich’s advantage.
To his credit, Begich was one of the few Democrats to vote against the Manchin-Toomey registration bill last year. But on the debit side of the ledger, he also voted for confirmation of Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court, along with a number of Obama’s other radical, judicial and executive branch appointees. The vote against Manchin-Toomey was important, but a cynic might suggest it was cast as a hedge leading into this year’s campaign. On the Supreme Court nominations, the NRA specifically warned senators that votes for Sotomayor and Kagan would impact reelection grades. Now it appears that the NRA did not take their own warning very seriously – which sends just the wrong message to the politicians.
Maybe there was some sort of backroom deal cut to secure Begich’s vote against Manchin-Toomey, or maybe NRA just doesn’t consider confirmation of radical, anti-Second Amendment jurists to lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court very important. Whatever the reasons for not knocking Begich’s grade down to at least a ‘B’ or a ‘C’, if not the ‘D’ awarded to him by Gun Owners of America, the upshot is that, with this high grade for Begich, NRA has effectively nullified the gun vote in this election, and may have, once again, ensured Harry Reid’s position as Senate Majority Leader.
Let’s remember that Reid might not even be in the Senate today were it not for NRA. Back in 2010, when Reid was up for reelection, NRA didn’t endorse him, but they publicly contributed $5000 to his campaign, and gave him a grade of ‘A’ to go along with it. They also refused to endorse his very pro-Second Amendment challenger, Sharon Angle. Many analysts believe NRA’s actions were a major factor in Reid’s reelection that year.
If Begich retains his seat, NRA could well be the weak link that derailed the bid for a Republican majority.
On the other side of the fight, anti-rights extremist Mike Bloomberg, who announced his intentions to work against Democrats who had voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, played a smarter political game by giving in to pressure from his Democrat allies and backing away from that threat. Bloomberg and his anti-rights conglomerate have instead opted to put their money into a registration scheme disguised as a “background check” initiative in Washington State.
They have also reserved their official endorsements only for incumbents with a better than average chance of being reelected. That safe endorsement strategy will allow the Bloomberg crowd to crow about how effective they are by claiming that 90% to 100% of their endorsed candidates won their races. They’ll compare their win ratio to that of the NRA as proof that they have electoral clout while NRA’s reputation is exaggerated; a bogus claim that will be trumpeted as fact by the media.
Politics is a tricky game for a non-partisan, single-issue organization like the NRA. It’s important to have friends on both sides of the aisle and to reward those friends when they do the right thing. But it is even more important to be consistent in penalizing betrayals. Unfortunately, by failing to hold politicians like Begich accountable for Supreme Court and other confirmation votes that are grave threats to gun owners, it’s not Bloomberg that is actually undermining the NRA’s clout and credibility.
©2014 The Firearms Coalition, all rights reserved. Reprinting, posting, and distributing permitted with inclusion of this copyright statement. www.FirearmsCoalition.org.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition is a project of Neal Knox Associates, Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org