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Chris W. Cox's Political Report: False Allegiance

Friday, September 22, 2006

POLITICAL REPORT

CHRIS COX, NRA-ILA Executive Director

One of the most pressing issues of our time--prohibiting the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during times of emergency--is drawing votes of support from politicians with anti-gun voting records that stretch over decades. We’ll take the votes--but we won’t be taken for fools.

On the campaign trail, we have no shortage of candidates who are professing false allegiance to the Second Amendment. Now, the looming elections are finding converts in the votes taken by Congress as well.

One of the most pressing issues of our time--prohibiting the confiscation of lawfully owned firearms during times of emergency--is drawing votes of support from politicians with anti-gun voting records that stretch over decades. But these “foxhole conversions” are insincere. We’ll take the votes--but we won’t be taken for fools.

Voters beware! As the elections loom, we are seeing more and more “foxhole conversions” to supporting our Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

Don’t be fooled.

NRA members will recall with painful clarity the images, barely a year old, of law-abiding citizens being forcibly disarmed by police and military forces acting under the dubious authority of orders from the former police superintendent, and current mayor, of New Orleans. We rushed into court to halt the confiscations, and the court agreed. But damage had already been done, with thousands of firearms disappearing into bureaucratic black holes with no inventory or records. Even now, victims of the illegal confiscations are still trying to track down and reclaim their rightful property, wrongfully seized.

Your NRA-ILA was not content to relish the court victory. No, we immediately set about making sure that such confiscations could never happen again, by lobbying for changes to emergency powers laws that make it clear to police and politicians alike that the Second Amendment is beyond their reach, regardless of circumstance. Ten states have now adopted our changes--Alaska, Idaho, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana--and we’ll keep coming back for the other 40.

But since many disaster recovery teams operate under federal authority, we also brought this battle to Congress. And in a few short months, both chambers of Congress have voted overwhelmingly to adopt our policy. But with this campaign has surfaced coldly calculated election-year strategy, and it offers a cautionary lesson for pro-gun voters this November and beyond.

In the House, the vote was straightforward. H.R. 5013, the “Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act” was introduced by Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-La., earlier this year. The bill was quickly adopted by the House leadership as part of its American Values Agenda, and was put to a vote on July 25. It passed by the broad, bipartisan margin of 322-99.

Two weeks before, the u.s. Senate contemplated a similar measure as an amendment to the spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., the amendment simply prohibited the expenditure of federal funds for the confiscation of firearms in times of emergency.

A spirited debate typical of the Senate ensued, with Sens. Vitter and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, speaking forcefully in the amendment’s favor. Three of our perpetual antagonists, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., orchestrated the blowhard opposition. But when the votes were called, fully 84 of the Senate’s 100 members voted in favor, with only 16 voting against. This lopsided victory is not typical, but it illustrates cynical decisions based in pure politics.

During the vote, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., first voted against the amendment, and then changed his vote to “yes.” A finger in the political wind? An exploration of “nuance” by first voting no, then yes, on the same issue? Or was he motivated perhaps by a sudden recollection of his intent to run for president again in 2008?

A combination of all these factors, most likely, brought Kerry’s vote into the right side of history on this issue. And he was not alone. Sens. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., all voted in support of the amendment, despite their collective decades of consistent anti-gun voting records. The only other factor uniting these converts is that each is facing a re-election battle this year.

The lesson here is clear. For months, we have seen a near-total absence of candidates in major races standing in overt support of the gun-ban agenda. Now, candidates are going even further by voting, without shame or embarrassment, in total contradiction to their established anti-gun voting records of years and years.

They are hoping that these momentary tributes to the Second Amendment will strike us dumb and lead us like sheep into voting for them this November and beyond. But they have underestimated our perseverance, and the longevity of our shared cause. We’ll take their votes for now. But when it’s time to cast our votes in November, this display of hypocrisy only underscores the need to defeat candidates who would take us for fools.

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Emergency Powers Laws
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NRA ILA

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.