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Chris Cox's Political Report, May 2004

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

Anti-gun candidates have now accepted that they must give grudging lip service to the Second Amendment. But they refuse to abandon their broad agenda of pushing incremental, creeping restrictions on our fundamental rights. They are blind to the inconsistency of their rhetoric, and they are hoping to blind you with it as well.

hen the U.S. Senate brought the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" to the floor, the most ardent enemies of the Second Amendment came battle dressed in full camouflage.

It's generally a bit later in the political season when anti-gun candidates don their camo garb by falsely claiming to "support" the Second Amendment. This year the camo came out early.

To be sure, Senate consideration of S. 1805 forced anti-gun senators to polish up their rhetoric. But a far more comprehensive and systematic effort to deceive the unsuspecting gun-owning voters of our nation is well underway.

Voting to ban guns and gun shows puts a lawmaker firmly on the anti-gun bandwagon, by any definition.

Funded by billionaire anti-gun activist Andrew McKelvey and managed by his stable of professional spin artists at the misnamed Americans for Gun Safety (ags), this coordinated effort promises political aid and comfort to enemies of the Second Amendment.

There is some humor to be found in their earnest effort to repackage the anti-gun agenda. The whiz kids at ags have hired, of all people, a former consultant to Al Gore to help market their snake oil to today's crop of aspiring anti-gunners. But we can't afford to dismiss their ability to learn from Gore's mistakes.

They have certainly mounted all the trappings of a legitimate campaign strategy effort. Polling and focus groups were underwritten by McKelvey, then analyzed by some of the leading lights of the Democratic party campaign apparatus. But all of the brainpower assigned to repackaging the anti-gun agenda came up with one simple credo. According to the ags strategy documents, the key to protecting politicians who toe the anti-gun line is simple--lie to the voters.

With an estimated 47 million voters within the shooting and hunting community, it's easy to see why ags is desperately trying to protect the politicians who vote to destroy our rights. And it's quite possible that the meaningless rhetoric they have devised will help them do it.

"I take a back seat to no one in supporting the constitutional right to own a gun," begins one of their lines for sale. But it goes on, "I also support requiring background checks at gun shows and continuing the ban on assault weapons.

"Back seat? Front seat? I don't care where they say they're sitting, what matters is their vote. And voting to ban guns and gun shows puts a lawmaker firmly on the anti-gun bandwagon, by any definition. Pick any seat you want, but when you come up for re-election, it will be a target in our book.

Another one liner being mass marketed begins "I will bring our local gun values to Washington." They're not talking about comparison shopping--it's a classic political tactic to talk about "local values" even if a candidate has no idea what they are. "That means respecting the right to own a gun and making sure our gun laws do not leave loopholes that help criminals, terrorists or illegal aliens." Now we have a combination deal, offering the comfort of "local values" contrasted with the phony specter of radical terrorists calmly equipping themselves for jihad at the local gun and knife show.

These are ridiculous statements, devoid of meaning and irrelevant to today's debate, but that is what makes them dangerous. And indeed, those Democratic operatives crowed to their eager audience about these statements garnering 80 percent approval among gun owners.

So it should surprise no one to learn that this type of meaningless rhetoric floated freely about the Senate floor during debate, even as the very same politicians voted repeatedly to attack our rights. John Kerry returned to the Senate for the first time this year since going awol on his Senate responsibilities.

He climbed the Senate steps triumphantly, and took the podium to tell America this: "I believe American gun owners are right to act responsibly and to live by common sense, and I am proud to stand with those gun owners today . . . gun rights and gun responsibilities are mainstream American values, and that is what we should vote for in the Senate."

Kerry then proceeded to vote to ban semi-automatic firearms, to destroy gun shows, and even to ban the vast majority of centerfire rifle ammunition--including most deer hunting ammo--;on the market today! He also took every opportunity to gut the underlying industry lawsuit preemption bill.

These votes may represent "mainstream American values" to the lofty elites of Massachusetts liberalism, but we know they are dead-on attacks on the Second Amendment rights of all American citizens. Once again it will fall to us to tell America the truth.

Kerry wants the truth to be a moving target. In the aftermath of the Senate vote, Kerry quickly disavowed the bulk of his floor speech. The remarks printed in the Congressional Record and posted on Kerry's Web site included only about one-third of the remarks he actually delivered on the floor. In Congress, this is not only allowed, but has its own name, a process called "revising and extending" your remarks.

But the videotape doesn't lie. Here's what John Kerry truly believes about your NRA: "Let's be honest about what we're facing today, the opposition to this common sense gun safety law is being driven by the powerful NRA special interest leadership and by lobbyists here in Washington. I don't believe this is the voice of responsible gun owners across America . . . I believe that the NRA leadership is defending the indefensible. There is a gap between America's Field & Stream gun owners and NRA's Soldier of Fortune leaders."

Into that imagined gap, John Kerry would insert his own vision of what "rights and responsibilities" he feels we can be trusted with. Pouring eyewash over a vote to ban guns and gun shows isn't support of the Second Amendment--it's sabotage. Kerry's "support" of the Second Amendment is limited only to the rights he deems appropriate for the rest of us. But he's not ready to make that admission just yet, so he rewrote official congressional history to pretend he said no such thing.

In the end, it comes down to a cold political calculus. Anti-gun candidates have now accepted that they must give grudging lip service to the Second Amendment. But they refuse to abandon their broad agenda of pushing incremental, creeping restrictions on our fundamental rights. They are blind to the inconsistency of their rhetoric, and they are hoping to blind you with it as well.

The stakes have been raised in this election--now, we must not only win the key races, but we must also turn back the callous attempt to define our rights downward.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.