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Chris W. Cox's Political Report: Pro-Gun Lip Service

Thursday, August 24, 2006


CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

More and more anti-gun candidates have realized that they must give lip service to the Second Amendment, camouflaging their real anti-freedom agendas until they are safely in office.

You and I are members of a proud and very large community. It is estimated that America's sport shooting and hunting community is home to 47 million voters. Our size translates into a simple political truth: Candidates for office at all levels--federal, state and local--know they can't afford to ignore us at election time.

Consequently, we have seen anti-gun groups grow increasingly desperate to protect their political friends whom they know will vote to destroy our rights upon taking office. This desperation has ratcheted up in the last several election cycles, as the online efforts of the nation's bloggers have proven that the truth can no longer be completely filtered, spun and distorted by the likes of Dan Rather, Michael Moore and the editorial writers at The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Our opponents are working overtime on perfecting their camouflage this year because they believe that our Second Amendment majorities in the U.S. Senate and House are within their grasp this November.

Today, rare is the anti-gun politician who can mount a successful drive for elective office without seeing the ghost of Tom Daschle in his rearview mirror. Pro-gun challenger John Thune defeated the powerful Senate minority leader in 2004, in part because bloggers were able to circumvent coverage in the Sioux Falls Argus Leader--South Dakota's only statewide newspaper, and a paper gun owners and others viewed as utterly biased in favor of Daschle.

With voters being constantly reminded of the gaping chasm between Daschle's voting record in Washington and his statements back home--together with the Argus Leader's refusal to acknowledge the same--the game was up for the minority leader. He became the first Senate leader in half a century to be voted out of office.

So now more than ever, anti-gunners seek to wrap themselves in the Second Amendment banner and claim allegiance with shooters and hunters. This political season, the camo came out of the closet early with the creation of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA), a group that sees gun bans as somehow not infringing on the Second Amendment. For an in-depth look at this new group, which promises to provide political cover to enemies of our firearms freedoms, please go to Anti-Gunners Don Camo As Election Looms.

This earnest effort to repackage the anti-gun agenda can't be lightly dismissed. Two years ago, we saw John Kerry in his presidential bid desperately seeking not to repeat Al Gore's 2000 campaign mistake of dismissing gun owners and sportsmen. Kerry--despite his two-decades-long anti-gun voting record--boldly marched to the Senate podium and declared: "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."

With his voice still echoing in the Senate chamber, Kerry showed he was actually standing behind gun owners with a poised knife in hand, as he proceeded to vote to ban semi-automatics, to destroy gun shows and to ban the vast majority of centerfire rifle ammunition. He then took every opportunity to gut the gun-industry junk lawsuit preemption bill. Did he really think we were not watching, not keeping score?

Two years ago, Kerry unwittingly became the poster boy for anti-gun politicians whose "support" of the Second Amendment is limited only to those rights they judge appropriate for the rest of us common folks.

As I've said before, it comes down to cynical political calculus in the end. Anti-gun candidates have now accepted that they must give grudging lip service--not unwavering support--to the Second Amendment.

Our opponents will not abandon their broad agenda of attacking our fundamental rights, but they will--with the Gore, Daschle and Kerry defeats in mind--try to polish their rhetoric to such a brilliance that gun owners and sportsmen are so blinded that they can't see such troublesome things as anti-gun voting records.

Our opponents are working overtime on perfecting their camouflage this year because they believe that our Second Amendment majorities in the U.S. Senate and House are within their grasp this November. All they have to do is just lie skillfully enough to fool, confuse and dishearten enough voters in the shooting and hunting community. They're betting a lot of money that they can.



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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.