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Every Vote, Every Seat, Every Year

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The fight to protect our rights looms large in 2014. Contests up and down the ballot in the states during mid-term elections have some of the most far-reaching consequences for gun owners. The nation has watched closely as gun owners in states like Colorado, Connecticut, New York, Maryland and others have battled to make their voices heard in anti-gun legislatures unwilling to listen. The only guaranteed way to protect your rights at home is to vote for those who respect your rights. Every seat, every election, every year counts—it’s as simple as that.  

In 2014, there are 36 governors’ seats up for election. Every one of those races is of vital importance, but the state legislative races are also critical with more than 6,000 state legislative seats up for grabs in November. The results in each and every one of those races can make a strong and immediate statement for gun owners in their communities, as well as heading into the next presidential election.

The NRA has played a pivotal role in protecting and expanding rights through successful legislation in various states. NRA members and supporters undoubtedly have the dedication to see good legislation through to enactment, but without a legislature and governor willing to listen, the hard work won’t
pay dividends for your Second Amendment-protected rights.

Anti-gun forces are mobilizing more than ever behind large amounts of money being filtered into the states, but NRA members are still the tips of the most preeminent grassroots arrows in the country. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has promised to invest $50 million this election cycle to counter the NRA. Bloomberg’s new group, Everytown for Gun Safety, has merged the efforts of Moms Demand Action with another gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Now Everytown is putting boots on the ground in at least 18 states—even in unlikely places that will need immediate counteraction. 

The fight is on to retain or win pro-gun majorities in the state legislatures. In some cases, only a handful of seats could change the political landscape in key states to give gun owners even more leverage to defend their rights. This year there are a number of pivotal gubernatorial and state legislative priorities where NRA members can send pro-gun candidates to victory and secure their rights close to home. 

Colorado: Over the years, the Rocky Mountain state’s legislature has slowly eroded into a more anti-gun posture and away from policies supported by the Colorado electorate. In 2013, it went a step too far as a push for gun control cost the anti-gun majority two state senate seats, one of which was Senate President John Morse, in historic recall elections. This makes Colorado a state to watch not just for the fight for balance of power in the legislature, but also for the governor’s office. Governor John Hickenlooper was front and center as massive gun control efforts were pushed against the wishes of Colorado citizens. Watching his approval ratings drop significantly, the governor has recently backtracked his position and admitted to making mistakes as this legislation was being passed. NRA members and supporters worked intensely on the successful recall elections. Now is the time to expand on that hard work and send another clear and unmistakable message in November that elected officials are accountable to their constituents. When the governor and state lawmakers stop listening to the people and their will to defend freedom, the good citizens of Colorado will make sure those elected officials stop working in the statehouse for good. 

Connecticut: Governor Daniel Malloy and those lawmakers who voted for sb 1160 in the state legislature are responsible for unleashing one of the most draconian gun control laws in the nation. Unfortunately, it does not end there as Governor Malloy and those same anti-gun lawmakers strategically continue implementing their plan in disregard of the constitutional rights of their citizens. Pro-gun voters have the momentum to get involved, and boots on the ground can make a difference in November. Undoubtedly, the political ramifications of voting for gun control legislation will be felt more profoundly than not voting for it in a state overwhelmed by anti-gun agendas. Connecticut gun owners and supporters are ready to show they are not just victims of bad lawmaking, but are first and foremost Second Amendment supporters and voters.

Florida:  Florida has long been a leading indicator of national politics and often on the forefront of gun-related policy as well. Governor Rick Scott has been an important ally in some hard-fought battles in Florida recently and has always been willing to listen to the concerns of voters and Second Amendment supporters. As all eyes are on Florida, it’s critical that Governor Scott is re-elected to continue to lead the state in the right direction.

Iowa: Because Iowa is a perennial swing state and important barometer on the national stage with a critical split in the state legislature by very small margins, Iowa should be closely watched. Governor Terry Branstad is a long-standing friend of the Second Amendment, but this year in the state legislature, committee chairmanship assignments and leadership positions in the Senate have allowed a small anti-gun group of legislators to block every necessary pro-gun reform from likely passage on the Senate floor. It’s more important than ever that Iowans get out to vote and give their pro-gun governor the opportunity to sign these important bills.

Kansas: Since taking over the top spot in the statehouse, Governor Sam Brownback has led Kansas through many pro-gun reforms. With media attention starting to point to this race as an important one to watch, focus must not be shifted from the gains that have been made in the last four years. As one of the strongest supporters of the Second Amendment, it is essential that gun owners stand with Governor Brownback and send him back for another term.  

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania has a long history of favorable gun policy and politics, and provides a happy home to many gun advocates and hunters. Unfortunately, the large population of hunters and Second Amendment supporters in the state are facing an onslaught of lawmakers blatantly ignoring the state’s pro-gun and sporting heritage. Governor Tom Corbett’s unwavering pro-gun support throughout his political career has shown his dedication to the rights of Pennsylvanians. Corbett has consistently opposed efforts to weaken Pennsylvania’s firearm preemption statute as well as any type of gun ban, and he strongly supports Pennsylvanians’ right to carry for self-protection. The efforts to undermine the Second Amendment in Pennsylvania are consistent, wide-ranging and moving forward. Pennsylvanians will need to maintain a strong ally in the governor’s office to fend off these attacks.

Washington: While voters can surely make an important difference in gaining pro-gun votes in the split state legislature, there is also a critical ballot initiative to oppose in November. Initiative 594 is a regulatory scheme that would disproportionately burden law-abiding firearm sellers and purchasers by expanding government databases of firearm transfers and diverting limited resources from law enforcement and other important public services. Meanwhile, it would do nothing to address the most common means by which criminals obtain firearms. While battles are being fought
at all levels in the states, Washington’s initiative is of special significance to the Evergreen State’s gun owners. 

Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker’s consistent pro-gun record and strong commitment to individual rights throughout his political career has made him a perennial target for anti-gun money. Walker has survived some of the toughest political battles seen at the state level, all the while never wavering from his support of Wisconsin’s gun owners. While Wisconsinites know for certain they can rely on his commitment to freedom, the relentless attacks on the governor will continue. Just as Governor Walker continues his support for gun rights, gun owners should continue to support Governor Walker.

In many ways, state legislatures and governors have a bigger impact on gun owners’ rights than do Congress and the president. That is why, in every election year, gun owners must pay close attention to the candidates in these races and select the best advocates for their rights. Politics change like the weather at the state level and pro-gun candidates once thought safe can quickly become threatened or targeted by our opposition. Likewise, pro-gun challengers to anti-gun incumbents can gain ground when events give them the opportunity—and when gun owners take action to lend their support. The races in the state legislatures are key to delivering a pro-freedom message on behalf of the state’s own citizenry. States have the ability to set the tone nationally. Don’t let your state send the wrong message. 

NRA members play their most important role on the ground in these races—by mobilizing and activating grassroots teams on the frontlines in their own communities to ensure pro-gun voters get to the polls in November. Every vote cast at the ballot box in every district by pro-gun voters makes the difference—because every state lawmaker’s vote counts when it comes to your rights. Be sure to make your vote count in every race, for every seat, every year!  

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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.