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Political Report: Election 2008 and the Long Road Ahead

Monday, December 22, 2008

The 2008 elections are not yet completely over and they may not be for a while. But it’s not too early to thank each and every NRA member for your dedication and hard work.

I’d also like to let you know where we now stand. Unfortunately, of course, Barack Obama won the presidential race, spending millions to hide his anti-gun record. But there were many more races at play in November.

Further down the ballot, the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) endorsed 23 candidates for the U.S. Senate, of whom at least 14 were victorious—with the outcome of three races still undetermined at press time. NRA-PVF endorsed 248 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and at least 216 of these candidates won their races. 

Your NRA-PVF does not just pick the easy battles. There are groups that endorse only “safe” candidates, but avoid the tough races completely, purely to pump up their winning average. But we get involved in every race where we can make a difference and this year was no exception.

It’s no secret that the Obama victory has emboldened our opponents. They will undoubtedly try to push gun control schemes in the new Congress. The gun ban lobby has already distributed a fundraising e-mail that crowed, “It hasn’t been this good in quite a while.”

But the evidence to support this claim simply isn’t there. In fact, while Republicans suffered significant losses, fewer seats shifted to the anti-gun side. Why? Because many pro-gun Republicans lost to pro-gun Democrats. Unfortunately, anti-gun Senators and House members still control nearly all of the key leadership positions and committee chairmanships in both houses.

 In the short run, though, Obama’s control of the executive branch will be our greatest danger. Control of the White House comes with a long list of enumerated powers—the veto pen, judicial nominations and control of the entire federal bureaucracy, just to name a few. The enemies of freedom are putting their stock in Barack Obama to carry their agenda—and they have good cause to believe he will, for Obama’s transition team wasted no time laying out the very same agenda.

But this was the same Barack Obama who repeatedly stated his “support” for the Second Amendment on the campaign trail. That’s because Second Amendment supporters brought change to American politics years before Barack Obama adopted the word as his own.

Over the past eight years, our members and our Association have truly changed politics in America.

This year, in races at all levels, we counted thousands of ads that celebrated a candidate’s support for the Second Amendment. And we looked high and low for ads—one ad, any ad, anywhere—that proclaimed a candidate a supporter of gun control. They simply weren’t there. 

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, told the media, “We know of no political candidate at any level, in any race, who lost because they supported sensible gun laws.” That’s because no political candidate at any level, in any race, would admit to supporting what the Brady Campaign considers “sensible gun laws”—including Barack Obama! 

Not only did Obama try to hide his own record, he also deployed phony surrogates like the American Hunters and Shooters Association, some of whom made bogus phone calls claiming the NRA had endorsed their candidate.

We countered these frauds with the most comprehensive, integrated effort in NRA’s history: to identify, register, inform and turn out our voters. Our post-election polling confirmed that our message reached gun owners, who were not fooled by the Obama campaign’s deceptions. But in the end, voter concerns over the economy allowed Obama to win. 

We face clear threats to our freedom. The Obama team has wasted no time in discarding his campaign promises and laying out a plan of attack against our rights. Anti-gun veterans of the Clinton administration are taking key positions in the new administration.

The landscape is new, but your NRA has been here before. In the coming months, we’ll work with our allies in the Congress—in both parties—to ensure they stand firm on their pledge to defend our Second Amendment freedom and hunting heritage.

And when we walk the halls of Congress to defend our rights, we need to know—and your lawmakers need to know—that you’re standing behind us all the way. United, we—and the Second Amendment—will prevail.

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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.