The Year of the NRA

By Beacon Staff

Remember the insane paranoia among gun owners during the 2008 election season and throughout most of 2009? The gun lobby whipped firearm owners into a fervor before and after the election of Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress with dire predictions about the impending demise of the Second Amendment, if not all freedoms we cherish.

I wrote several commentaries saying the opposite – that a lot of Democrats are pro-gun, pro-2A, and many others wouldn’t touch the gun issue because it’s a political poison pill.

So, what happened?

Well, I was right and wrong. Democrats did “touch the gun issue” and probably passed more pro-gun laws than in any year in history. So, it seems, Obama, with help from his fellow Dems, has done more for firearm owners than any president in recent history, including vocally pro-gun Republicans.

And firearms manufacturers? Wow! While the rest of our economy tanked, they thrived, possibly having their best year ever.

What follows is hardly a complete list (yep, there’s more!), but here are a few of the most significant pro-firearm, pro-2A successes of 2009, most, if not all, carried or facilitated by the National Rife Association (NRA), likely the most powerful lobby this country has ever known.

Finally, a Real Bipartisan Issue. Are we all getting tired of politicians championing bipartisanship, but never doing it? Well, I say the right to bear arms has emerged from our two-party system as a true bipartisan issue.

Perhaps the most notable testimony to that claim was the amendment to H.R. 627, the so-called MasterBlaster Bill, which reformed credit card regulations. Credit card reform might have been “must-pass,” but the amendment to allow loaded, concealed firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges certainly wasn’t. Nonetheless, Congress easily approved the amendment and President Obama didn’t object to it as he immediately signed the bill.

Nowadays, most politicians are so gunshy about a recordable vote casting them as anti-gun and lowering their NRA grade, they go to untold lengths to avoid it. But when they can no longer avoid taking a stand, most vote with the NRA. On the national park gun amendment, the votes were 67-29 in the Senate and 279-147 in the House, including 27 Democratic senators and 105 Democratic representatives.

Having checked the lists, it’s clear that the gun issue is no longer related to which party, but instead, which state. Politicos hailing from urbanized states on the Left Coast and in the Northeast still dare to vote against the NRA, but not in the rest of the country.

States Strengthen Gun Laws. In the past two years, mostly in 2009, 24 states, including Idaho and Montana, passed 47 new pro-gun laws.

Supreme Victory. In June 2008, the Supreme Court overturned a handgun ban imposed by local officials in Washington, D.C. and at the same time validated, for the first time, but with a narrow 5-4 vote, an individual’s right to bear arms.

The most amazing point was an Amicus Brief written by the NRA supporting Dick Heller in his case against the D.C. law. Notably, 55 Senators (nine Democrats) and 250 Representatives (67 Democrats) signed the brief.

Even “ObamaCare” Scare Tactic Scores. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), specifically to pacify the 2A advocates, inserted last-minute language into the Senate health care bill stating that no wellness program implemented under health care reform could require disclosure or collection of information relating to gun ownership.

Congressional Opposition to AWB. In March 2009, 65 Democratic Representatives signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing their opposition to his call for reenactment of the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

The Ensign Amendment. With this amendment, the Senate repealed the D.C. gun registration statute on a 63-36 vote, including 23 Democrats.

More Americans Support Guns, NRA Membership Soars. Remember James Watt, the arch-enemy of the environment appointed as Interior Secretary by President Ronald Reagan? Did he destroy the planet? Nope, but he did double the membership of the Sierra Club.

Has Barack Obama tried to take away our guns? Nope, but he did sign the most pro-gun law passed in many years, repealed more gun regulations than George W. Bush did in his eight years, and prompted thousands of Americans to join the NRA, now 4 million strong.

The NRA also scored repeatedly in the court of public opinion. At the end of 2009, support for the 2A soared to new heights. A CNN poll found support for more restrictive gun laws declined from 50 percent in 2007 to 39 percent in 2009.

A Lot More People Now Have Guns. The number of background checks (required to buy a gun) jumped 43 percent in 2009, following a 31 percent increase in 2008. More guns mean more crime, correct? Nope. All categories of violent crime decreased in 2009, including a 10 percent reduction in murders.

You might not agree with all the NRA does or how it does things, but you have to agree that the gun lobby gets the job done for gun owners and puts up an almost impenetrable defense of the Second Amendment. Even though gun rights advocates must remain vigilant, after what happened – and didn’t happen –in 2009, they need not stress so much because they obviously have the Force with them. It’s called the NRA.

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