Goldwater a cautionary tale for Second Amendment Supporters

Barry Goldwater with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Second Amendment supporters must learn from Goldwater's mistakes in the 1964 election. (White House photo)
Barry Goldwater with Lyndon Baines Johnson. Second Amendment supporters must learn from Goldwater's mistakes in the 1964 election. (White House photo)

Arizona/United States – -( In 1968, Second Amendment supporters nearly found themselves in a deep hole. By a slim margin, they were able to keep a licensing and registration scheme that Johnson wanted out of the Gun Control Act of 1968. This greatly angered Lyndon Johnson, who denounced the “gun lobby” for the omission of the means of eventual gun confiscation from that bill. But why did we have to come that close to seeing the tools of eventual confiscation happen? Well, for that, we must go to the 1964 presidential election, and the cautionary tale of Barry Goldwater.

To be fair to then-Senator Goldwater, he started with an uphill battle. Johnson had succeeded the relatively popular and beloved John F. Kennedy, who had been gunned down in Texas the previous year. That would have been difficult enough. However, Goldwater managed to let himself be portrayed as an extremist by the media, and he also showed a very poor grasp of not just strategy and tactics, but the very basics of the political landscape.

He compounded that by needlessly feuding with other elements in the Republican party. As a result, some sat on their hands. Others actually crossed over. As a result, Goldwater ended up on the wrong end of one of the biggest electoral blowouts in the last 60 years.

How bad? He got only 38 percent of the popular vote. He carried only six states. What was just as bad was the effect on the down-ticket races. The Democrats picked up 37 seats in the House of Representatives, for a total of 295. They got up to 68 Senators. Let’s put the disaster into some perspective. To propose a constitutional amendment, you need 67 Senators and 290 House members to vote for it. It takes 60 Senators to end a filibuster on legislation (at least for now).

Imagine a Congress with 68 anti-Second Amendment Senators and 295 Representatives who also seek to neuter – or repeal – our freedoms. Put it this way, they would arrange for the Supreme Court to be packed (you could kiss the Heller and McDonald decisions good-bye as a result). They would ram through Australia-style gun laws, like those Jerrold Nadler wants. Or, they could listen to the demands of some anti-Second Amendment extremists, and propose an outright repeal of the Second Amendment.

That would be the second item on their agenda, right after they ram through legislation to make the grassroots efforts of Second Amendment supporters much more dangerous (from a legal standpoint). Imagine HR 1 on steroids, only with the empowerment of an army of Lois Lerners. The resulting combination would be a death blow to our freedoms.

So, how do we prevent it? First of all, Second Amendment supporters must resolve to ensure a “No More Goldwaters” standard. As emotionally appealing as it might be to support a candidate who runs on principled opposition to any new gun control laws, we need to think strategically and tactically – not to mention in terms of how they come across to our fellow citizens – in every election cycle. Depending on how things are going, we must be willing to make hard choices in the political and legislative arenas should they be necessary, given the hostile media climate and the fact that these days, Silicon Valley is also taking sides against our rights.

As was pointed out in January by Duane Liptak, virtually all Second Amendment supporters have the same goals. The problem is that there is all too much infighting. If we don’t want to end up like Barry Goldwater, we need to get our act together quickly.  We have no more time for infighting over tactics and strategy. Attack the anti-Second Amendment extremists, not fellow Second Amendment supporters.

Harold Hu, chison

About Harold Hutchison

Writer Harold Hutchison has more than 15 years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post,, and other national websites.

  • 58 thoughts on “Goldwater a cautionary tale for Second Amendment Supporters

    1. So the point of your “cautionary tale” is that we should support a candidate who embodies the goal of the NRA — an incremental loss of all firearms rights nationwide culminating in the repeal of the (by then defunct) Second Amendment only after they have sucked every possible penny from anyone foolish enough to think they support the right to keep and bear arms.

    2. Hutchison, you came across as saying that we must vote for someone who can win and forget about principles. Trump is someone who can win who is not based on principles. He will sell out the 2A some of the time and protect it others because he does not appear dedicated to the principle. Sure, less destruction is better than more, but a lack of principle will just lengthen the road to tyranny.
      To everyone crapping on Hutchison, try talking to people who think differently. Most Americans are not like us. They vote by gut feeling and sound bites rather than deliberate and exhaustive principles. We need more than principle to win and we cannot abandon our principles to truly win.

    3. During the 1960s and to some extent till about recently, Second Amendment supporters were not divided along party lines. There were sizable gun rights advocates and a smaller cadre of opponents in both major parties. The Democratic Party picked up the banner of civilian gun rights restrictions and making it gospel for all party-approved candidates only in the last fifty years. The assassinations of Dem icons JFK and RFK had a lot to do with it.

    4. I think that, in one sense, we “gunnies” all need to stand together. For example, whether or not you have a bump-stock, you should stand together to oppose their ban, because it isn’t about bump-stocks, it’s about incrementally increasing infringement of 2nd Amendment rights. We all need to recognize this. The same is true for “universal background checks.” The Democrats aren’t stupid. They know perfectly well such laws can’t/won’t reduce mass murder or violent crime. They just want their camel’s nose further under the tent, which is why they’re pushing this legislation. WE need to act together to oppose it, if only on principle.
      That said, I don’t see how supporting candidates who are “acceptable” to mainstreamers in Congress, but who are not committed to their constitutional oaths of office, and consequently, to fully supporting 2nd Amendment rights, is ultimately of any benefit. It may be easier to get them elected, but once in office they work against our rights, so what have we gained? I think it better to show the country how much support there actually is for guys like the “Freedom Caucus,” and other TEA Party type candidates. Look what is happening to support for the Democrat Party now that they are openly hyping AOC and her ilk. Most Americans are leaving them behind. That’s what will happen to “establishment” GOP candidates if we openly support their more “radical” constitutionally oriented opponents too.

    5. Here I am again, Kicking myself for not looking to see who wrote the article before wasting my time reading it. About halfway through though, I realized it must be Harold Hacks-up-some begging us to not make such a fuss so we don’t upset the overlords. Harold, you are a F#@%ing coward, grow a pair or STFU!

        1. No the real Civil War has not yet started but it is going to. We are past the point where any election or where the courts will reverse the assault on–or protect our rights.
          At this point we are needing to prepare for Civil War to apply Force to restore a constitutional republic of limited government. All of you reading this need to begin the process of forming local Shadow governments and state Shadow governments as well as militias underneath those governments. Where possible you need to engage constitutional sheriffs to oversee those militias and train them or obtain current or former 2nd Amendment oriented military members do that training and possibly command those units.

          And of course the local or state Shadow governments will need to appoint members to a national Shadow government

          It will be necessary to find highly skilled Personnel for these militias with a wide variety of skill sets to include welders, mechanics, electricians, Engineers, mathematicians, telecommunications ( including Radio, Electronics, and antenna systems )and Information Systems Technology specialists; cryptography specialist, chemists, doctors, nurses and even lawyers.

          You need to really start this now.

          1. ‘Shadow’ my azz. What we need is PATRIOTS boldly proclaiming FREEDOM and RECLAIMING THE EXISTING GOVERNMENT!

            1. @Clark Kent

              Would you care to explain then why you have been flip flopping around then on that subject?

              See, here you talk about standing up for liberty and needing to reclaim the government. In other areas, you mock the people Criticizing the government, not advocating violence, but criticizing and calling for defense.

              You can’t talk out of both sides of your face.

          2. It’s been around for a number of years already. Use Duck Duck Go and search “4th Continental Congress”. They have state assemblies in every state, and a Continental Militia Network, also in many states (still recruiting). People need to support this, but the problem is few see the need.

    6. The Constitution CAN NOT be overridden by any laws Congress passes. You need a Constitutional amendment to pass in 38 States.. The 2nd Amendment is law of the land until then. Anyone subverting the Constitution is a traitor. Time to replace most of the 545 in D.C. with Patriots.

      1. As the first ten amendments to the constitution (the bill of rights) were the condition many of the original states required for the ratification of that document in the first place, and all states since then have joined the union under those terms and conditions, I would propose that any alteration of those first ten amendments would render the constitution, and the union of states under that constitution, null and void except for those states that chose to join a new union reconstituted under those new terms and conditions.

      2. Sounds good but, know this democrats do care about the Constitution. They will enforce laws that are unConstitutional. That is why there will be a purge or a civil war.

    7. Now there is Beto Oroke who’s running his campaign from El Paso Texas, pushing for open boarders(no limits on illegals-well they need jobs he says- yeah so our unemployed veterans, and the employees layed off from Payless Shoes (20000), Family Dollar stores (4000) and other businesses closing their doors, Beto is a gun banner, pro gay, anti-Christian among other political issues. Nope we sure don’t need him for President. Vote for President Trump in2020. Background checks = gun registration = gun confiscation = you locked away forever in a New World Order gun control concentration camp!

      1. I don’t think O’Rourke is a good choice for America ether..

        Regarding Payless Shoes, Family Dollar/Dollar stores, Toys R US, etc…

        I hope that everyone can see the upside to the stores hit by Chinese tariffs, that sold products from China.. etc…
        Now the demand will be translated back into American made jobs…
        (Provided we stand by Trump and he doesn’t falter over trade deals with China!)
        Toys R US couldn’t compete, along with their other issues..
        There were a lot of industries, crying foul against Trump for disrupting business as usual, hindering his efforts to turn things around!

        Yes, the tariffs hurt.. they were supposed to hurt the Chinese the most…
        It affected the other industrial countries too…
        I don’t believe Trump intends to hurt anyone else. I believe he is trying to bring a FAIR market and jobs back for the USA.

        When we remodel, things have to get broken to be rebuilt.. Not always attractive in the beginning!

        Don’t abandon ship, the waves are a little rough, so batten down the hatches.
        We have to make hard choices to turn things around people.
        I do not mitigate the plight of the poor, the homeless, especially the Vets…

        I too was homeless, after my divorce. Do you like country songs lol
        I was broken, and couldn’t function. I lost my job as a truck driver…
        I lived in my car, until I got into public housing.
        (Then entered college, and obtained my AAS. I was hindered from completing my degree… I started over again with another dream!)
        It”s hard enough to sleep in a car, but especially when police hassle you for being on private property.
        I have been living in this HUD nightmare now, for 17 years, while chasing after my dreams. Only to have wolves, and even the Gov., attack my every effort.

        It’s frustrating, but I know the one who is in charge. He will repay.

        This is what, We the People, asked for… MAGA

        … Liberty, or Death!

    8. The author rightly points out that unless Second Amendment supporters stop fighting each other and band together, our rights will be lost. So naturally Ammoland readers immediately reject this proposal and start sniping at one another. Well, just go ahead and pat yourselves on the back for being so uncompromising in your diehard belief that the world has to work your way or no way. I’m sure your self righteousness won’t fade a bit after they take our guns like they did in Australia. You stood tall. You didn’t compromise. You didn’t do shit.

      1. AGREED. There’s nothing worse than to find out, after the fact, you were in a circular firing squad. Wake up, the REAL enemy is outside the tent, not inside it!

      2. I am a member of a theologically conservative American church body. However, within our fellowship is a large group (around 50%) that is theologically liberal (to varying degrees) and was able to get a theological soulmate elected as our church body’s president. Because of infighting between different conservative groups who had differing ideas regarding what a conservative direction should look like, each supported a different candidate in subsequent elections, dividing the conservative vote for president. Finally, after a decade, electors got their act together and were able to elect an agreeable conservative. The point of this lesson is that all pro 2A groups need to put their diffences aside and come together in fighting back against the enemy within with a unified voice. It’s that or possibly go the way of Australia, or worse.

    9. Appeasement and political correctness is NOT the way to win and this is the second article I’ve seen by Hutchison recently advocating 2nd Amendment supporters roll over and kiss the ass of the opposition and public in order to achieve some level of success. That is total crap. Giving up one’s honor and character to win, will cost you more than the victory is worth, if you are a man. Written above the entrance to the Marine Corps Sniper School are the words, “Compromise is Failure”. With all his claimed military familiarity it is obvious Hutchison never knew about this, is ignoring it or is full of crap and working for the other side (I lean towards the latter).

      1. Hutchinson is an NRA-sucking, all-compromise surrender monkey. I’m as sick of his BS as I am of Green Watch Dog posting his libtard [email protected] Honestly, we need people to post regularly on Ammoland that are bolder, more militant, no BS. And I am totally down with that USMC slogan. Compromise IS failure!!

    10. Goldwater was rejected and we got LBJ with his ‘Great Society’ that has cost trillions, created a new social caste of welfare recipients, and thousands lost in Viet Nam with his politically correct method of waging war.

      1. I vividly remember the Democrat slogan in 1964. They were chanting- “Vote for Goldwater in ’64, by ’68 we’ll be at war!” So I did, and sure enough, we WERE!

      2. America must have lost its balls after 1963, because even though I was nowhere old enough to vote for Goldwater, I thought he surely would have been the right man for the job… Goldwater famously said; “Extremism in the defense of Liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

        America needs REAL MEN to lead once again, but the fracking Leftists keep trying to assassinate them! Like Reagan. And even though it’s been kept hush-hush, there have been no less than a half dozen attempts on Trump – both from lone nutjobs and people with access to military infrastucture (a THAAD missile was fired at AF1 from Hawaii back when Trump was returning from NK, and Hawaii’s DEFCON went whacko [that was the coverup].).. That’s no conspiracy theory, the proof is out there thanks to some high-level patriots in military intelligence –

        The only reason why we got Trump is because there are no real fighters in the GOP who would take America back to 1776. When you think on that long enough, you’ll realize that civil war 2 / 2nd American Revolution is the ONLY WAY we’re gonna get our liberties back.

    11. Hutchinson is by far and away the worst contributor at Ammoland: “Goldwater managed to let himself be portrayed as an extremist by the media”. I vividly remember that campaign, it was nothing of the sort. The liberal media, in the days before the internet, dog piled on Goldwater and his options to fight back were extremely limited. How do you fight disingenuous TV ads showing a little girl being atomized by an H Bomb? I haven’t seen such dirt again until 2016, but Trump had ways of fighting back Goldwater did not. Get rid of Hutchinson, Ammoland he is a liberal plant or worse.

      1. Goldwater had the same problems as Republicans today. They almost never come out and speak. They almost never force themselves to a platform and just take it and speak for themselves express, their ideas, their thoughts and explain themselves or actually defend themselves and address accusations and false descriptions about them and their ideas head-on. It is almost as if they don’t think they need to defend themselves or dignify false claims with a response, they arrogantly feel as if they’re above doing that. They expect people just to somehow know and believe what they should innately. They don’t go to the airways, they don’t speak to the people. They don’t call out horrible ads against them. They never rebuff anything ill said about them or if they do; it’s in a very stale, artificial, politician kind of way. On the rare occasions they do speak, they only speak to the choir. They let the opposition control the narrative, and then they lose.

        1. As I recall, and i was paying close attention, Goldwater came out and spoke every opportunity he had to rebut the fake news. But since he was not “mainstream” GOP he was not supported by the party. Very similar to what the GOP did to Ron Paul and is doing to Trump today. Goldwater was campaigning in 1964 and had almost no recourse except the media which was completely aligned against him. if you doubt that read some of Pat Buchanan’s analysis on the situation. Your assertion, I think, is incorrect as are Hutchinson’s posts.

        2. Your comment is right on ! Republican Politicians sit back and and take the middle road hoping to not upset anyone letting Trump take all the heat . Republicans In the mean time let the liberal mouth pieces garner all the media attention for their extremist ideals . Entrenched Republicans are just trying to ride out their time allowing the libs to dominate them . Sad thing is most people can’t even see that there is a problem . As long as they have their net flix , video games , Disneyland Trips and other distractions , they don’t have to conscentrate on what is going around them that is Truely important . Sad but America is in big trouble . I can do my part by talking to others in an attempt to convince them of the immediate dangers facing our country , the loss of our liberties, and our way of life . Sometimes I think it falls on
          deaf ears but I still keep trying.

      2. Actually that “girl with the daisy” ad only ran one time. The media picked it up and that’s where most people saw it, on their local and national news. The media has been the enemy of the US for a long, long time.

    12. In other words we should become Never Trumpers or Progressive Republicans who worked with the media and Democrats to stop Goldwater and Trump.

    13. PAY ATTENTION! My dad and Goldwater and others in Phoenix played cards together (1940s). He owned Goldwaters (1930s-50s) a major huge Phoenix store (at that time) much like a Dillards in today’s world–nice honest man. He did not allow the media to get him–they just did it like they do today and the Republicans much as now with Trump did not defend or worse don’t counter attack. We will lose this country, we will lose and are losing our rights UNLESS we adopt the tactics of the far left of the Democrat Party and use them immediately. Personally, I think it is already over, we are pretty much DOA and we just do not know it due to the nearly 90 percent of Republican cowards in our government–Trump is trying, but….

        1. More laws are not the answer. More ENFORCEMENT of the Constitution IS!! And, in case you haven’t noticed, the GOP is barely less of a threat to our liberty than the Commiecrats are. And we absolutely cannot adopt the tactics of the Left; we’re BETTER THAN THAT.

          But what we must realize and accept is that as libertarian author Claire Wolfe had once said, “America is at that awkward stage; it’s too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards.”

          If it’s any consolation, we’re much much closer to shooting the bastards now than we were 25 years ago.

    14. ++You did not need to make your point by besmirching Goldwater.
      ++This was the point where the media propagandists thought they owned the landscape.
      ++If there were enough republicans in the republican party the U.S. Constitution / Bill of Rights would be the law of the land without argument.

    15. Maybe, just maybe, if we try real hard, we can compromise away the rest of our rights, Ain’t happening. Find a new line of work @Harold Hutchison

    16. There are a few things wrong with this perspective. First, Goldwater was a kick starter of what we now call the Conservative movement. I attended the Republican National Convention as a child, as did Hillary, and at the time my folks would tell you the Republican Party was a thoroughly Progressive Party that had little to no sympathy for natural law theory, enumerated rights or any of the other things that soon became the main course of conservative talk. Goldwater was the catalyst of the movement. Until then we were a weak cry in the wilderness drowned out by republican office holders like Dick Nixon, Progressive to the core. There are a few things that changed the climate. First, the disastrous end of the War in Southeast Asia and the falling of dominoes and millions of lives; secondly the rebirth of Protestant Christian belief under the guise of Billy Graham and others and thirdly the reaction to Roe V Wade and the “woking” of Christians and Jews of faith in response to the beginning of the second progressive eugenics program. When conservatives like me returned from Viet Nam and got back in to school we were first vilified until the events of April 1975 began to vindicate if not the conduct of the war the intent. Communism showed its true colors in the killing fields and leftists of all stripes had to run from the issue. All of the aforementioned laid the groundwork for Ronald Reagan. Reagan carried the torch of liberty although imperfectly for Goldwater. It is the Republican Party itself and its permanent progressive caste of donors and politicians who abandon the legacy. The voters will follow the voice of liberty. That voice is routinely silenced by the Republican mandarin class. From Arizona where we thank Barry Goldwater every day. Semper Fidelis

      1. I lived through the same time period and I was so naïve I find it hard to fathom how I came to the conservative side of politics. I was a hardcore supporter of Kennedy, taken in by the “Camelot” experience portrayed by the media. I was also a new Army recruit when he died. It took me a few years to grasp the destruction of rights that the Democrats were formulating. As a former government worker, I have witnessed first hand the corruption from the inside. I am now an Independent that has to register as a Republican to be able to vote in the primaries here in Florida. I hold no allegiance to either party, just political principles. Very nice article, sir.

    17. Yeah, Revelator is right on this. We can’t afford to have milquetoast conservatives “Negotiating Rights Away”. Harold writes in this compromising way because he shills for the NRA, the very people within our own camp who are selling us out, which means he IS PART OF THE PROBLEM. People are either pro-liberty or they are not, and if they’re pro-liberty then they can see the logic and necessity of being armed and organized to deter tyranny. If they’re NOT pro-liberty, such as the Lefty-Commie-Demonrats, then NO AMOUNT of ‘strategery’ will ever change their minds or cause them to flip. The few that remain in between are the RINOs and the compromisers, Not Really Activists, who are judas goats!

      We can’t afford to give one inch… NOT ONE INCH! on constitutional principles! That has been the only thing that has kept this country from going full commie for over 50 years!! Standing for principle and NEVER BENDING makes an indelible impression on our kids and grandkids, and along with careful instruction on firearms and civics, insures that they will NEVER agree to go along with the commiecrats.

      I agree, Harold, you gotta stop carrying on and on about ‘strategy and tactics’. To hear you carry on so, makes me (and everyone else) think that you believe if we’re subtle enough and couch our terms carefully enough, that somehow every committed enemy of freedom will MAGICALLY SEE THE LIGHT, AND COME TO OUR WAY OF THINKING. I call BULL$#!T. If we were that subtle, there would be NO DIFFERENCE between us and the commiecrats/RINOs.

      The issue is one of electoral politics. Either we start flexing our muscle as a unified voting bloc in each state, or we will lose each state to the commiecrats. This goes beyond guns; we have to vote against commiecrat schemes to allow illegal aliens (who are all socialists, BTW,) to vote in state and federal elections, vote against commiecrat schemes to count illegal aliens in the Census, we have to vote against commiecrat schemes to give “sanctuary” to illegal aliens and vote against schemes to give illegal aliens “free stuff”. There are other issues, but illegal aliens are the LINCHPIN to keeping the commiecrats from taking our guns: with enough illegal aliens, the commiecrats can take over our country FOREVER, and permanently deform it into something that our founding fathers wouldn’t recognize at all.

      I’m NOT gonna play “strategery & tactics”. I’m WALKING TALL and standing on the Constitution and the Holy Writ as my foundation. If our votes are insufficient to stop the commiecrats from destroying our republic, then I’ll use my last remaining vote, and vote from the cartridge box. Something that I doubt any of the NRA shills here at Ammoland have the testicular fortitude to do, should it come to that. But that’s OK, I have buddies who are vets like me, and fellow cops, we’ll stick together and be fighting while the surrender monkeys of Negotiating Rights Away are surrendering their guns and licking the jackboots of the men who take them away.

    18. Harold Hutchison once again demonstrates a total lack of testicles, acting as an apologist for the Gun Control movement, and whining about why Constitutionalists wont capitulate and give in to the left for the sake of “Tactics and strategy.”

      He’s been doing this non stop in every article he writes. Harold Hutchison is one of the enemy.

        1. I shall. One round at a time! Rotten to core is the now ever present tyrannical government now seated. I am a free man, such as those of us tired of the bleeding heart anti’s. Time to stand for our freedoms!

      1. Hey @ Rev,

        I read your reply to my Trump bumpstock betrayal questions….
        I wondered if you were privy to more info than I was aware of.. I looked at the video too!

        You are correct!
        I still haven’t heard a reply from the GOP about S-7, but it’s not going to vindicate his Anti-2A actions with the bumps stocks…
        I’ll refrain from further defending his actions…

        I’m looking for a New Leader in the meantime… and I see the wisdom of voting for/ knowing who your enemy is too

        1. @Walter Goddard

          Here is the best advice I can give you.

          Instead of looking for a leader, focus on the constitution. Root yourself in and do everything you can to educate yourself even farther on the principles of individual liberty.

          If you can elevate yourself to where you become immune to “cults of personality” and “Lesser of two evils” arguments, that is when you become a serious threat to those like Harold because you can begin teaching even more people around you to do the same as long as you don’t practice any double standards.

          When enough people learn, then the spineless individuals like Harold have no choice to fall in line behind us once they realize they can never control us or lead us into settling for a middle ground. In the end, they will either follow like the sheep they are, or they will show their true colors and go back home to the looney left.

          1. Thanks @ Rev..

            I agree with that word of truth..
            My parents understood and taught me how to poison a trouble making wild dog.
            Feed it some poison with the meat.. That’s what all the compromising is, poison..
            It’s just like Satan twisting the truth in the Garden of Eden, sowing lies, …weeds!

            I hear you. I can’t do a double standard… it rubs me the wrong way. Truth is hard enough to remember. When 2 + 2 = 5.5 it’s time to change something!

            Abiding, and knowing the truth, the truth will make you free!
            The same yesterday, today, and for ever… 🙂

            .. Liberty, or Death!

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