Gun Control: After the Storm
When righting yourself after a downturn in life, it is best to first take an honest inventory to understand how your own actions influenced the outcome. It may seem emotionally easier to blame outside influences, but professional victims do not expend any effort to improve their lot in life, expecting somebody else to straighten things out instead. This runs counter to liberty, where personal freedom is reflected by an equal amount of personal responsibility. So we need to see exactly where we stand before we plan our recovery from the 2006 elections.
When the Clouds Cleared…
In the House, 23 A-rated, NRA-endorsed representatives–17 of them incumbents–lost to F-rated challengers. (Assumes initial rating of “?” is really an “F”.) In the Senate, 5 endorsed candidates lost, four of them incumbents, for a 72% winning percentage.
The good news in the Senate is that only one A-rated incumbent lost to an F-rated challenger, while three victorious challengers were rated “A”. In the House, we had an 88% winning percentage, with 226 NRA-endorsed winners.
Based upon previous papers, law firm contribution influence remains in play, where more lawyer money corresponds with a more anti-gun voting record.1 F-rated senators averaged $1,294,623, 158% more than “A’s” in campaign contributions from lawyers. While NRA A-rated senators received an average of $500,846 from lawyers, the A-rated freshman senators received an average of $742,309, 48% more.
A-rated representatives received an average of $46,424, but A-rated freshman representatives received $76,723, 65% more. This is greater than the 54% differential between A-rated and F-rated representatives. Because of this potential influence, even with the “A” rating, we cannot rely on freshman votes until congressional activity confirms their active support of gun rights.
Using the voting record for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act as an indicator, the Senate remains pro-gun. Fourteen Democrats voted Yea, but 3 of them are rated “D” or “F” by the NRA, leaving 11 reliably pro-gun. Of 50 Republicans voting Yea, four lost reelection and 2 are rated “C” or “D”, leaving 44 pro-gun. Four freshmen senators rate A, but one received over $2 million from lawyers, and lawyers were the top donor industry for another. If the freshmen remain loyal to Democrat leadership, we can only count on one more vote, totaling 56 pro-gun votes in the Senate.
In the House, new members are pivotal. Of the returning representatives, 202 rate “A” and another 28 rate “B”. There are 26 new members rated “A”, but five list lawyers as the biggest industry donor. Of the 15 NRA-endorsed freshmen, 2 list lawyers as the biggest industry donor. If freshman representatives remain loyal to Democrat leadership, we may see 13 more votes. If they remain loyal to constituents, we will get at least 15 votes, and all 25 could vote pro-gun. Counting only existing A-rated representatives as a worst-case scenario, where new A-rated Democrats follow party leadership, we have a minimum of 215 votes, with the 37 B-grade existing members going either way depending on the issue. If only 3 vote pro-gun, we will carry the House. The NRA endorsed 13 “B” representatives, so if we support them in becoming “A”, this alone gives us a majority of 228 pro-gun votes in the House. “B” representatives aside, if the NRA-endorsed freshmen vote with constituents, we have a minimum majority of 228. Both groups together gives us a pool of 241 pro-gun votes.2
More Good News
Blue Dog Democrats could have positive impact on A-rated Democrat freshmen. A recent article notes the growing influence of this conservative Democratic coalition:
WASHINGTON — Now that the results of the midterm election have demonstrated the strength of moderate to conservative Democrats in swing districts, the clout of the independently minded Blue Dog Coalition is on the rise, say political observers, and its bite could match its bark.
The Blue Dogs’ first public battle since the elections also demonstrated their strength, throwing their support to Rep. Jane Harman of California to become chairwoman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Nineteen Blue Dogs sent a letter to Pelosi in support of their fellow Blue Dog over Georgia Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Pelosi did not choose Harman, but she also passed over Hastings, and instead chose a former Border Patrol agent, Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes as the panel's chairman.3
Of the Blue Dogs, 22 are A-rated (21 NRA-endorsed), plus one freshmen who is B+ and NRA-endorsed.
There is no indication that voters considered gun control an important issue. For example, a representative poll listed the top five issues as: Iraq, terrorism, economy, illegal immigration, and moral issues.4
Why Democrats Should Support Gun Rights
We should continue working with Democrats to drop gun control. If we accomplish this, and freshmen representatives remain true to their constituents, gun control will fail. The Oxford English Dictionary defines politics as: “Activities concerned with the acquisition or exercise of authority or status.”5 It defines power as: “(Possession of) control or authority over others.”6 Thus, political power is the activity of acquiring and possessing control over others. It does not take into account the humanity of an individual who, lacking vast wealth and power, cannot enter into that intimate sphere wherein he can personally influence legislation.
Criminals can more easily acquire and exercise power over another when they are assured of the victim’s inability to exercise any counterbalancing force. The many data points presented in past papers indicate that civilian disarmament provides such an advantage.7
Part of the Democrat Party’s agenda declares: “The Democratic Party is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding opportunity for every American.”8 Their civil rights page states: “Democrats are unwavering in our support of equal opportunity for all Americans.”9 It seems reasonable that the Democrat Party should support regular people in the basic right of self-defense.
Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of (Democract) President Franklin Roosevelt, understood this. In 1958, at age 74, she traveled to Tennesee to speak at a civil rights workshop. Having heard from the FBI that the Ku Klux Klan had placed a bounty on her head, she nevertheless attended, driving from the airport to the school with a loaded pistol on the seat next to her.10
Democratic President John F. Kennedy wrote to the NRA:
On the occasion of Patriots Day, I wish to offer my congratulations and best wishes to the National Rifle Association of America which over the past years has done credit to our country by the outstanding achievements of its members in the art of shooting.
Through competitive matches and sports in coordination with the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, the Association fills an important role in our national defense effort, and fosters in an active and meaningful fashion the spirit of the Minutemen.
I am pleased to accept Life Membership in the National Rifle Association and extend to your organization every good wish for continued success.11
President Kennedy’s reference to the Minutemen is especially interesting, as the Minutemen were comprised of farmers and craftsmen who were selected from a town’s militia to be a “small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and able to assemble quickly.” This democratic, “everyman” military organization supplied homeland security from the mid-1600s to the Revolutionary War.12
The Democrat Party, often considered the party of the “little” people, would do well to consider that regular folk sometimes need to defend their families from harm as part of their “equal opportunity” to pursue the American Dream. While congressional members reside in their legislative chambers, protected by dedicated security details, they need to remember that those of more modest means, whose hard-earned tax dollars pay for those private police forces, are unable to afford the same protection for their families, and that the police often cannot arrive in time to avert tragedy. (For example, the Sergeant at Arms of the Senate is “charged with maintaining security in the Capitol and all Senate buildings, as well as protection of the members themselves.”13) The right of self-defense supports the pursuit of happiness. The Democrat party would be more in keeping with the spirit of their stated goals if they drop gun control.
We need to remind our representatives that NRA is four million members strong. If the Democrats want a chance to lead our country, they need to know the line which they cannot cross. By the same token, we need to remind Republican leadership to be true to their principles and stop supporting anti-gun senators like the now-removed Chafee and DeWine.
Due to Clinton-era political hangovers, gun control remains an issue with Democrat party leadership. There might be a new era as pro-gun Democrats took 12 seats in the House and three in the Senate. They will only remain pro-gun if they know you are behind them. Anything less than your complete effort will likely contribute to diminishing your rights. The choice currently remains in your power.
1 See example articles such as: Rule of Law or Rule of Lawyers? http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=24833 ; Campaign Finance and ROI, http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=22914 ; Rebuttal to Michael Barnes, Brady Campaign, http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=16066
2 Compiled from data available at NRA-PVF (http://www.nrapvf.org/ ) and Open Secrets, web site of the Center for Responsive Politics. Email request for spreadsheet.
3 Greg Simmons, Blue Dogs No Longer Runts of the Democratic Litter, Fox News, December 5, 2006. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,234317,00.html
4 CNN, Issue Tracker. http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2006/special/issues/
5 The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Thumb Index Edition, 1993 Edition, Clarendon Press, page 2275.
6 The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Thumb Index Edition, 1993 Edition, Clarendon Press, page 2315.
7 See example articles such as: Does the UN Protect Womens Rights? http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=23948 ; Explaining the Brady Campaign Report Card, http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=12569 ; The Australian Experiment, http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=8073
8 Agenda, The Democratic Party. http://www.democrats.org/agenda.html#civilrights
9 Civil Rights, The Democratic Party. http://www.democrats.org/a/national/civil_rights/
10 Kopel, Gallant, and Eisen, Her Own Bodyguard: Gun-packing First Lady, Independence Institute, January 24, 2002. http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel012402.shtml
11 Letter from President John F. Kennedy to the NRA, March 20, 1961. http://www.nracentral.com/jfk-nra-life-membership.php
12 Andrew Ronemus, Who Were the Minutemen? US History. http://www.ushistory.org/brandywine/special/art01.htm
13 Office of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper, U.S. Senate website. http://www.senate.gov/reference/office/sergeant_at_arms.htm
About the Author
Howard Nemerov is a frequent guest on NRA News. He can be reached at HNemerov [at sign] Netvista.net.