"The Democrats who are prospering right now and who are perhaps
going to win are not silly. They have read the marketplace. You
know what the big winner in this election is? The NRA. No Democrat
out there is talking about gun control."
- George F. Will ("This Week With George Stephanopoulos," Oct. 22, 2006)
BY CHRIS W. COX
NRA-ILA Executive Director
Well, we can remove the "perhaps" from George Will's analysis, but the thrust of his remarks about the politics of gun control was dead on. On Election Day 2006, voters took out both frustration and anger on the Republican Party and turned over the levers of power to the Democrats.
Importantly, however, on a day that saw an electorate expressing dissatisfaction over such things as conduct of the war, political corruption and competency to govern, Americans cast their votes for pro-gun candidates from both parties. Candidates who championed gun control in contested races were nearly non-existent.
Politicians who claimed to support the Second Amendment on the campaign trail were rewarded by voters who took them at their word. Now, those same voters - NRA members first and foremost - will be closely watching those they elected to see if they "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk." For our part, NRA will see to it that the newcomers get the opportunities to prove themselves with some early votes. By the yeas and nays we will separate the true believers from the camouflage candidates.
There is no denying that the change in Washington, D.C., will soon become very real. Radical opponents of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms have been elevated to seats of power, especially in the House of Representatives, where Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker and John Conyers is set to take over the powerful Judiciary Committee. Anti-gunners will assume the chairs of important subcommittees as well.
The power shift is balanced in part by the fact that Second Amendment champion and former NRA Director John Dingell, the longest serving member in the House, is set to regain the reins of the Energy and Commerce Committee and will be a powerful voice for gun owners' rights among his colleagues. Pro-gun Democrats will also chair some very important committees and subcommittees.
In House of Representatives elections this year, the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsed 259 candidates, and our candidates won 228, or 88% of those races. The 110th Congress will convene with 24 pro-gun freshmen - 11 Democrats and 13 Republicans - in the House, and 227 A-rated members (eight less than after the 2004 elections). For the record, there will be 150 members we rate as Fs.
Of the 17 candidates NRA endorsed for the U.S. Senate, eight won their races. What really matters, however, was that there was a net loss of only one pro-gun seat - our good friend Jim Talent was defeated in Missouri. Four pro-gun freshmen in the Senate include: Democrats Jon Tester of Montana, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jim Webb of Virginia, along with Republican Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Outside the nation's capital, Democrats claimed six governors' mansions and majorities in several state legislative chambers: the Indiana House, New Hampshire House and Senate, Iowa House and Senate, the Minnesota House, the Michigan House, the Wisconsin Senate, and the Oregon House.
The six states whose governorships switched from Republican to Democratic hands include Arkansas, where A-rated Mike Beebe won, and Ohio, where A-rated Ted Strickland moves into the governor's mansion.
There will be legislative battles ahead at both the federal and state levels. And with the all-important 2008 elections approaching, NRA members and their fellow gun owners and sportsmen must remain vigilant. We must let our representatives, both Democrat and Republican, know one thing: we expect our Second Amendment rights to be respected and protected.