Deja Vous All Over Again – Ignore Grassroots Gun Owners At Your Own Political Peril

By Philip Van Cleave

Warning Ignore Gun Owners At Your Own Risk
Deja Vous All Over Again – Ignore Grassroots Gun Owners At Your Own Political Peril
Virginia Citizens Defense League
Virginia Citizens Defense League

Covington VA –-( Another very familiar scenario played out again Tuesday night: a candidate for a statewide election is told by a political consultant that he can ignore grassroots gun owners as long as he can secure an NRA endorsement.

It is almost beyond comprehension that a candidate for VIRGINIA office would believe that gun rights issues important to Virginia voters can be ignored as long as one gets an endorsement from a national group.

That’s what happened to Mark Earley when he was running for governor back in 2001. He touted his NRA support and weaved and dodged on the VCDL survey, never answering it.

Mark Warner won that election and went on to sign two important gun bills into law: a local government preemption law for concealed handgun permit holders in 2003 and preemption for all gun owners in 2004. (Warner started going publicly soft on guns once he was elected to the Senate in 2008. During that campaign it was brought out that Warner had disparaged the NRA as far back as 1994 when he was the Democratic Party Chairman.)

It’s also what happened to Jerry Kilgore when he was running for governor back in 2005. Like Earley before him, Kilgore was told by his political consultant that an NRA endorsement was all that he needed to convince gun owners that he was good on guns – no need to answer VCDL’s grassroots gun-rights survey.

Kilgore was quite proud of having flown in a helicopter with the NRA Executive Vice-President, Wayne LaPierre, during an election appearance near Roanoke. Surely that would show gun owners that he was truly pro-gun! But the fun was short lived, as Kilgore had no sooner stepped off the helicopter when he was brought back down to earth yet again. This time by (then) VCDL Executive member Al Steed Jr. asking Kilgore about his missing survey. 😉

In that election, both Bill Bowling and Bob McDonnell returned their VCDL surveys and quite handily won their races for Lt. Governor and Attorney General, respectively. Kilgore got shellacked by Tim Kaine, who DID turn in a VCDL survey. While far less than stellar, at least let gun owners knew where there was common ground with Kaine. While gun owners weren’t the only reason for that shellacking, they were definitely a part of it – both Bowling and McDonnell got 60,000 more votes than Kilgore. If Kilgore was thinking that gun owners had nowhere else to go, he learned that they didn’t have to pull the lever for him.

Flash forward to Tuesday night. Some of Mark Warner’s bad votes on guns and his canned response letters and emails that told you nothing about how he would vote on gun issues had turned off many gun owners. He also had not returned the VCDL survey. So, here was a chance for Ed Gillespie to take advantage of that and get an important voting block on his side.

But, alas, Gillespie was using the same political consultant that Earley and Kilgore had used, ignored the VCDL survey and grassroots gun owners, and got the same result as Earley and Kilgore.

I know from emails I received that some of you decided to cast your vote for the Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, largely because he had filled out the survey. Others said they were not going to vote for anyone on that part of the ballot.

I also must say that because Gillespie ignored grassroots gun owners before the election, I wouldn’t have been surprised to get the same useless Warner-type canned email responses on gun issues had he been elected.

Oh, and what about the only major party federal candidate who responded to the VCDL Candidate Survey – Dave Brat? Not only did he win the primary against Eric Cantor, who also ignored grassroots gun owners, but he won his election handily by a 62% to 38% margin yesterday.

Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit: