The 2008 elections are over, and America has spoken. While many of the results were not what we hoped for, this year’s election does show how NRA members have truly changed politics in America.
Across the country, from the presidential race, to the U.S. Senate and House, to state legislative races, one thing was missing this year: ads proudly proclaiming candidates' anti-gun credentials.
The gun control lobby must be distressed that many Democratic gains occurred only because the party has run so far from the gun control issue. While they fondly look back to how actively Bill Clinton campaigned for gun control in 1992 and 1996, they also remember the lesson that gun owners taught an anti-gun Congress in 1994, Al Gore in 2000, and John Kerry in 2004. This was a lesson taught by the National Rifle Association that has changed the politics of our issue across the country.
This year was the next step in the Democratic Party's evolution, in which their candidate with a radical anti-gun record spent tens of millions of dollars to paint himself as a supporter of Second Amendment rights. He also spent millions recruiting phony surrogates like the American Hunters and Shooters Association, and making bogus phone calls in which Obama supporters claimed the NRA had endorsed their candidate.
Yet despite NRA members’ valiant work to cut through the spin, economic concerns were the primary factor in John McCain and Sarah Palin's loss. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will take oaths to uphold the Constitution, but we know by their deeds and their words that they believe the Second Amendment rights of American citizens must be severely restricted.
We know the people Obama will appoint to his cabinet and to other federal offices will be almost universally anti-gun. Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff is a perfect example of the hostility the Obama White House will have for gun owners’ rights. Emanuel, now an anti-gun congressman from Illinois, was once described as the Clinton administration’s "point man on gun control."
Below the presidential level, Republicans did not fare well. However, the Second Amendment fared far better. In fact, many of the pro-gun Republicans who lost their races were replaced by pro-gun Democrats.
That being said, we can and should expect significant challenges at both federal and state level.
While our opponents are claiming victory for their anti-gun agenda, it is a hollow claim. All across America, pro-gun candidates ran proudly on their records and their beliefs, while anti-gun candidates spent millions to hide their true positions. Now the American people will have the opportunity to judge Obama, Biden and others who lied to them about their anti-gun records. They promised to protect our rights. We will all see the truth when they fail to live up to those promises.
The threats to our rights under Barack Obama are real. If we are going to protect those rights, we have to start work now, preparing for legislative, executive and regulatory assaults at every level of government. Some will be open attacks, such as reintroduction of the Clinton gun ban. Others will be stealthier, such as unleashing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to harass even more gun dealers and force them out of business. Regardless of how they attack our rights, we will have to respond.
Your support for NRA is going to be more important than ever. We have to be ready to hold every legislator accountable. Every elected official who ran with the support of gun owners needs to know we expect them to live up to their commitment to protect our rights. They need to hear from us often, and we cannot let them forget where we stand, or think that we are not paying close attention. And they need to know that as long as they continue to stand with us, we will continue to stand with them.
More than ever before in your life or in the life of our nation, you need to send a message to every member of the U.S. House and Senate, every federal judge, every entrenched gun-hating bureaucrat, every legislator in your home state, and every enemy of freedom.
You need to send the message that you’re standing tall with the NRA for the next four years and that, as Charlton Heston said, it is "We the People" who rule this country, not the politicians and not the media, and we will protect our cherished freedoms. Standing together, we will fight and we will prevail.