While the presidential election is critical for gun owners, the importance of U.S. Senate elections cannot be overlooked by those who value their Right to Keep and Bear Arms.
BY CHRIS W. COX
Gun owners who want to keep their freedom face the fight of their lives this Election Day—not just for the White House, but for a branch of government that's just as important, and maybe in even more danger of a hostile takeover by anti-gun forces: the U.S. Senate. Just days from now, on Tuesday, November 2, voters in 34 states will elect their next U.S. Senators. With the balance of power between anti-gun and pro-gun U.S. Senators already teetering on a razor's edge, if anti-gun forces win even a handful of those races, your Second Amendment rights could face catastrophe. It's that close.
We're at a crucial juncture in the history of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms in America—history the U.S. Senate will determine. Here's why:
Within the next few years, as many as four U.S. Supreme Court justices are expected to retire. And within the next few years, many court watchers believe the Supreme Court will be compelled to rule on what the Second Amendment means.
If anti-gun politicians regain control of the U.S. Senate, they’ll use their power to confirm or kill the President's nominees to the federal bench. And you can bet they'll only accept Supreme Court nominees who agree with Bill Clinton's Solicitor General Seth Waxman, who wrote that the Second Amendment does not extend an individual right to keep and bear arms.
What's more, within the next two years, the United Nations is scheduled to have an anti-gun, anti-freedom international treaty ready for ratification by the United States.
If anti-gun forces tip the scales in their favor in the U.S. Senate—which has the authority to ratify or reject international treaties—you can bet your grandchildren's freedom that they'll accept the U.N.’s gun-ban treaty.
If that happens, the treaty will, if the President signs it, become federal law—and we all know where John Kerry stands on that count. So if you want to keep your rights, the most important thing you must do on Election Day is help elect a Second Amendment-safe U.S. Senate.
To do so, we have identified 14 must-win U.S. Senate races in states detailed below. Even if you don't live in any of those states, you can help by alerting your friends and relatives who do.
So tear out this article and share it with fellow gun owners who live in these battleground states.
Together, if we all do our part, we can prevent the U.S. Senate from falling into the hands of anti-gun partisans and elect a truly Second Amendment-safe U.S. Senate.
South Dakota: John Thune
Gun-ban politicians often toe the line set by their party leaders, and in that sense, the senate race in South Dakota—between Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and former Congressman John Thune—could be historic for gun owners.
Since 1986, Daschle has cast literally dozens of anti-gun votes in the U.S. Senate. He voted for the Clinton gun ban in 1994 and again earlier this year. He voted for prohibitions that would have shut down gun shows across America.
This year, even when many members of his party supported legislation to halt the baseless, frivolous lawsuits that threaten to drive the American firearms industry into bankruptcy, Daschle helped to kill that bill by attaching new gun bans and gun show restrictions as amendments.
And as the leader of his party in the U.S. Senate, Daschle carries far more clout and control over fellow Democrats than you might think. And time after time, he has chosen to use that raw power against gun owners.
In contrast, Daschle’s challenger, former Congressman John Thune, has been a committed defender of Second Amendment freedom since his first vote in Congress. During his tenure in the House, John Thune voted to prohibit the federal government from keeping computerized records of gun purchases and to protect the American tradition of weekend gun shows.
South Dakota gun owners who don't want six more years of Daschle’s partisan, obstructionist, anti-gun games must vote for John Thune for U.S. Senate.
Alaska: Lisa Murkowski
Another key race for gun owners is in Alaska, where pro-gun Sen. Lisa Murkowski faces a challenge from former Gov. Tony Knowles. In her brief tenure in the U.S. Senate, Lisa Murkowski—an Alaskan by both birth and belief—has distinguished herself as a reliable and trustworthy friend of law-abiding firearms owners. She has earned an “A” rating from NRA-PVF.
In fact, Sen. Murkowski is exactly the kind of person we need in Washington. Right now, the Senate is a toss-up when it comes down to issues affecting your rights as a gun owner. Since the 2002 elections, we’ve been able to defeat several dangerous anti-gun proposals. Just this spring, with Sen. Murkowski’s help, we defeated Ted Kennedy’s amendment that would have banned most ammunition used by deer hunters. And Sen. Murkowski also voted to defeat an amendment to renew the Clinton gun ban for another 10 years.
One fact is sure: Alaskans who want to elect a Second Amendment-safe Senate have no better vote on Nov. 2 than Lisa Murkowski for U.S. Senate.
North Carolina: Richard Burr
Another Senate match-up with great national implications is in North Carolina.
There, in the race for the seat held by John Edwards, whose term ends in January, pro-gun U.S. Congressman Richard M. Burr faces Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff at the Clinton-Gore White House.
In his 10 years in office, Congressman Burr has cast dozens of pro-gun votes in Congress. And he’s received a solid “A” rating from NRA-PVF ever since he was elected.
Bowles is another story. Although he’s been quiet on the gun issue in the 2004 campaign, the fact that he was a top insider in the most anti-gun administration in history should scream a warning to Tar Heel gun owners and hunters. The challenge is clear: Spread the word. Rally the faithful. And vote freedom first with Richard Burr for U.S. Senate.
South Carolina: Jim DeMint
With Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings retiring, South Carolina gun owners have a chance to put a rock-solid pro-freedom leader to work for their rights by electing Congressman Jim DeMint to the U.S. Senate.
Over the past six years DeMint has cast dozens of votes to uphold your Second Amendment rights and not a single vote to reduce them. He voted to end crippling lawsuits against the American firearms industry and to stop efforts aimed at ending gun shows.
Explaining his decision to run for office, DeMint said, “I became increasingly concerned that the freedoms we take for granted in America are under attack in such a subtle way that no one is noticing it. I developed the feeling that I had a burden to try to change things.”
Indeed, Vice President Dick Cheney has called DeMint “one of the very best candidates running for the U.S. Senate any place in America … a man of unquestioned integrity” and “a principled legislator.”
In contrast, DeMint’s opponent, Inez Tenenbaum, seems more devoted to a national hard-left agenda than to the interests of South Carolinians. President Bill Clinton, in his recent Democratic National Convention speech, attacked gun owners and ridiculed NRA. At the same time, he praised Tenenbaum, calling her “a friend of mine for many, many years.”
South Carolina gun owners who want a friend on Capitol Hill will vote to defeat Inez Tenenbaum and elect Jim DeMint to the U.S. Senate.
Missouri: Christopher “Kit” Bond
In another clear contrast between candidates, in the “Show Me” State, pro-gun U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond faces a re-election challenge from Missouri State Treasurer Nancy Farmer.
Sen. Bond has been a loyal, longtime ally to gun owners on Capitol Hill. Serving in the U.S. Senate since 1986, Bond has voted more than 50 times to protect your Second Amendment freedom—including five votes against the Clinton gun ban—and his grade from NRA-PVF has always been an “A.”
Bond’s opponent, anti-gun candidate Nancy Farmer, received an “F” rating from NRA-PVF in 1996, and since then has failed to respond to NRA-PVF questionnaires. In the early 1990s, when she was a state legislator, Farmer sponsored a bill that could have gutted the Second Amendment, giving big-city politicians in St. Louis and Kansas City power to regulate “the sale, purchase, transfer, ownership, use, keeping, possession, bearing, transportation, licensing, permit, registration or taxation of firearms.”
Missouri gun owners who believe the Second Amendment means what it says should work to return Christopher “Kit” Bond to the U.S. Senate.
Kentucky: Jim Bunning
In Kentucky, the Right to Keep and Bear Arms has a true and talented Hall of Famer in Jim Bunning. As a member of the House of Representatives, he voted against passage of the Clinton gun ban, and, two years later, voted to repeal it.
Sen. Bunning voted to protect lawful firearm manufacturers from the politically motivated lawsuits that could have driven them out of business.
He voted to increase mandatory penalties for the illegal transfer or criminal misuse of firearms. And he voted to protect hunting ammunition from a ban sponsored by Ted Kennedy.
In fact, in just his first term in the U.S. Senate, Bunning voted more than 25 times to protect your right to own a gun and to strengthen penalties for armed criminals.
Kentucky hunters and gun owners will surely vote to re-elect Jim Bunning to the U.S. Senate.
Pennsylvania: Arlen Specter
In the Keystone State, the contrast between U.S. Senate candidates couldn’t be clearer.
Longtime Sen. Arlen Specter has been a reliable and capable advocate of firearm freedom and law and order. Over the past 24 years, he has cast more than 50 votes to uphold your freedom. This year he voted against the Kennedy hunting ammunition ban, against renewal of the Clinton gun ban and against federal regulation of local gun shows.
Specter's opponent, U.S. Congressman Joe Hoeffel, has cast dozens of votes against your Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Congress, and has consistently been rated “F” by NRA-PVF.
Among other things, Hoeffel supports gun registration, gun owner licensing, additional restrictions on antique and replica black powder firearms, mandatory liability insurance for gun owners…the list goes on and on.
Upon his recent endorsement by the Brady Campaign, Hoeffel left no doubt about his stand on firearms freedom, saying, “I am proud to stand with Sarah Brady.” The Brady Campaign, which, of course, claims you have no individual right to own a gun, is helping fund Hoeffel’s campaign.
For Pennsylvanians who want to keep their rights and stop violent criminals, the choice on election day is obvious: Arlen Specter for U.S. Senate.
Iowa: Chuck Grassley
Sen. Chuck Grassley has stood strong for our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. He has been a steadfast ally against the anti-gun agenda of John Kerry, Charles Schumer and Ted Kennedy.
A farmer who returns home every weekend to be with Iowans, and visits all 99 counties every year, Sen. Grassley epitomizes Iowa values and virtues. "Without question Chuck Grassley is one of our state’s most beloved leaders. He has earned the respect of his fellow Iowans, and we show that respect every time the Senator stands for election," said NRA President Kayne Robinson.
In contrast, Grassley’s opponent, former Iowa state legislator Art Small, has an agenda of big-government liberalism.
To Iowans who care about their families, their freedoms and their firearms, the model of effective public service is Chuck Grassley in the U.S. Senate.
Georgia: Johnny Isakson
The Second Amendment will lose a faithful friend with the upcoming retirement of Georgia’s Sen. Zell Miller. But it could also win a powerful new ally this November with the election of Rep. Johnny Isakson to fill that vacancy.
In just four years, Isakson has cast nearly two dozen votes in Congress to defend your firearm freedoms, and has an “A” rating from NRA-PVF.
Isakson voted to give airline pilots the option of having a firearm to protect the cockpit from terrorist hijackers. He voted to protect law-abiding firearm manufacturers from reckless lawsuits by big-city, anti-gun politicians. He voted to block the campaign “reform” law that silences political speech from groups such as NRA. And Isakson voted to preserve the tradition of gun shows in America.
Millions of Georgia gun owners will vote freedom first by electing Johnny Isakson to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 2.
Utah: Robert Bennett
Stark differences separate the candidates in Utah’s U.S. Senate race this fall.
Pro-gun incumbent Sen. Robert Bennett faces Salt Lake County attorney Paul Van Dam. And where Van Dam’s views on firearm freedom are murky or muted at best, Sen. Bennett has an impeccable record on your Second Amendment rights.
Indeed, in his two terms in the U.S. Senate, Bennett has cast 45 votes in defense of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and has an “A” rating from NRA-PVF.
Utahns who want to uphold their freedom will vote to re-elect U.S. Sen. Robert Bennett.
Alabama: Richard Shelby
In Alabama, incumbent Sen. Richard Shelby, one of the most committed and consistent advocates of Second Amendment freedom on Capitol Hill, faces a re-election challenge from Wayne Sowell of Birmingham.
Sen. Shelby, a former chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and a key policymaker since Sept. 11, 2001, is as dedicated to your personal security as he is to America’s national security: Since 1986, he's cast 56 pro-gun votes in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Shelby opposed the Clinton gun ban in 1994 and voted against its renewal last spring. He also opposed restrictions on political speech and has voted time and again to protect guns shows. Richard Shelby has never wavered in his support for the Second Amendment. In this election, Alabama gun owners have the chance to return a true champion to the Senate.
Kansas: Sam Brownback
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas has been a pro-gun trailblazer on Capitol Hill since he was first elected to Congress in 1994. Sen. Brownback grew up on a farm, and he carried the heartland values of America to Washington, D.C. Clearly, Sen. Brownback considers your Right to Keep and Bear Arms a key component of those basic values. In his first two years, he cast five votes for firearm freedom in the House; in the eight years since he was elected to complete the term of retiring Sen. Bob Dole, Brownback has voted for your rights more than 30 times—defending hunting, defending your right to own semi-automatic firearms and defending traditional American gun shows. Kansas voters can do their part to elect a Second Amendment-safe U.S. Senate by re-electing Sam Brownback.
Florida: Mel Martinez
Florida gun owners have a prime opportunity to replace a foe of the Second Amendment with a new ally. Bob Graham rarely missed an opportunity to vote against the interests of gun owners, but with his retirement a new day is coming.
Mel Martinez, a solid friend of gun owners, is the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President George W. Bush. He is also an NRA Life Member. He has pledged his support for gun owners on key issues, such as opposing renewal of the Clinton gun ban, supporting legislation to end junk lawsuits against the firearms industry, protecting gun shows from unneeded regulation, and upholding as the rights of law-abiding gun owners to sell privately owned firearms without government intrusion.
Electing Mel Martinez will be a significant gain for gun owners, not only in Florida but also across the nation.
Colorado: Pete Coors
Pete Coors has a name we all recognize, but gun owners might also recognize his face. Almost 20 years ago, he appeared in an “I’m the NRA” ad proclaiming to one and all his support for the Second Amendment. That support remains just as strong as ever.
Gun owners are losing a friend in Ben Campbell, who is retiring after 18 years of service in Congress. The election of his replacement is expected to be as tight as any in the nation, and gun owners need to support NRA Life Member Pete Coors. His election will ensure that gun owners have a staunch ally in the U.S. Senate.
Coors has pledged to support gun owners by opposing gun bans, ammunition bans, waiting periods, and federal regulation of gun shows. He has also pledged to support legislation to end the frivolous lawsuits that threaten to ruin the firearms industry. In short, Pete Coors will be a strong voice for gun owners’ rights, and his election is crucial to maintaining a Second Amendment-safe Senate.
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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.