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The Importance of the 2012 Election

Sunday, January 1, 2012

By David A. Keene, NRA President

As I travel around the country I run into a lot of people, including some NRA members, who seem to believe that in light of the Heller and McDonald decisions, the Second Amendment is safe regardless of whether or not Barack Obama wins a second term next fall. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We are facing the most crucial election in our lifetimes in terms of the Second Amendment. All of us who know President Obama’s beliefs, and the opportunities he will be presented during a second term, must realize the seriousness of the situation.

Long before he emerged as a presidential candidate, this president was working overtime to gut the Second Amendment; he denigrated gun owners during his campaign and recently promised The Brady Center’s Sarah Brady that he would deliver on his anti-gun commitments, but at least for the moment had to work “under the radar.”

This is a president whose administration devised the infamous “Fast and Furious” program to create the illusion that U.S. gun dealers have been the principal source of firearms going to Mexican drug cartels and has tried to cover up its culpability. This is a president who has signaled to the international anti-gun community that the United Nations should go ahead with its plan to develop a treaty that could severely restrict or eliminate our Second Amendment rights.

And, this is a president who has already appointed two anti-Second Amendment justices to the United States Supreme Court—one of whom told Congress during her nomination hearing that the Court’s decision in Heller was “settled law,” but promptly acted and spoke against that all-important decision as soon as she was on the bench; and another who used the same code words despite a record of anti-gun activism in the Clinton White House.

But this is also a president who understands just how politically dangerous it can be to openly confront America’s gun owners and Second Amendment supporters before an election. You can bet that when Obama and his political advisors sit down to devise their upcoming campaign strategy, they remind each other that they ought to defer such confrontations until the hoped-for second term.

Obama’s managers know what happened to Al Gore in 2000 and they can read the polls. They know that in October 2011, the Gallup poll revealed greater support for the Second Amendment than ever before; that on gun issues, the views of the public are far closer to the NRA’s than those of this administration. They see the Second Amendment as a political “third rail” that those on the left should avoid in an election year.

But if there is a second Obama term, the gloves will come off and “under the radar” harassment will be replaced by an aggressive all-fronts attack on our rights. No one who has followed this president’s career doubts this for a minute and every gun owner who goes to the polls next November should think about the consequences of a second Obama term.

If he is re-elected, President Obama will have an opportunity to appoint two, possibly three, more like-minded judges to the Supreme Court and hundreds of anti-gun jurists to the lower federal courts. If this happens, Heller would be openly reversed or rendered meaningless by decisions allowing restrictions that have the practical effect of prohibiting U.S. citizens from exercising the very rights the courts have recognized as fundamental.

Remember, in Heller the Supreme Court ruled not only that the Second Amendment guarantees us as citizens the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, but that like other rights this one is subject to legitimate regulation. What this means is that over the coming decades, attorneys will be in court trying to determine what regulations are or are not legitimate. If the judges trying these cases are as anti-gun as the man who will be appointing them, we all know how they will rule.

We all take some comfort in the fact that we have many Republican and Democratic friends in both Houses of Congress ready to oppose overt anti-Second Amendment legislation or an anti-gun U.N.-backed treaty, but the president has in many areas demonstrated a willingness to bypass Congress and essentially rule by rules, regulations, “demand letters,” executive orders and other decrees. The bottom line is that our rights are truly in danger. We cannot rely exclusively on the courts or even on Congress to protect them. We are the final line of defense of the Second Amendment. We all have to be prepared to fight as never before. We must organize those who agree with us to remove President Obama and his allies from the White House next November—before it’s too late.

The stakes are high, so as 2011 comes to an end we all need to dedicate ourselves to making 2012 the year in which we rally to defend the rights we enjoy and hope to pass on to our children and grandchildren. 

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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.