by Michael A. Schwartz
A recent foxnews.com article indicates that pro-gun Democrats may get a boost in November.
This is both good news…and bad. The good news is that people have been fighting to make gun rights a part of everyone’s agenda and it is working. The Second Amendment is important whether you are gay or straight, black or white, old or young, male or female, left or right, urban or rural. Recent U.S. Supreme Court victories as well as political victories dating as far back as the 1994 national election have given the Second Amendment a foothold on the sheer, slippery cliffs of politics.
There was a time when the Second Amendment was not a partisan issue. You can find quote after quote from Democrats of long ago that are in favor of the right to keep and bear arms.
From President Thomas Jefferson: “In a nation governed by the people themselves, the possession of arms to defend their nation against usurpers within and without was deemed absolutely necessary. This right is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.”
To President John F. Kennedy: “Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd Amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important.”
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s anti-gun laws took root in mainstream politics. The National Rifle Association’s first presidential endorsement came in 1980 when after remaining neutral in politics for decades; the NRA endorsed Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter. This was based largely on Carter’s appointment of Judge Abner J. Mikva, a vehement anti-gun, judicial activist. (Interestingly enough Judge Mikva was also a law professor from Chicago. Must be something in the water.)
By the early 1990s the curtain was closing on the Second Amendment with the legislative crescendo being the federal ban of the majority of commonly owned semi-automatic rifles at the urging of the Clinton administration. Fortunately both the NRA and conservative candidates were gaining momentum nationwide. A gun ban had actually taken place in the United States and enough was enough.
The bad news is the gun gravy train is coming to an end for the Republican Party. We are too comfortable with the thought that the pro-gun vote goes to the Republican. The current environment has pro-gun candidates on both sides of the spectrum. Since Democrats took over congress a few pro-gun laws have passed after a letter was written to Attorney General Holder and newly elected President Obama signed by 65 Democrats telling them both “no anti-gun laws!”
This is a crucial time for Republicans. If they tackle the issue of guns now they can and will continue to benefit. If they continue to take the vote of gun owners for granted, this voting block will easily slip between their fingers.
OK, so what do we do? Federally Republicans can fight for Concealed Weapon Permit reciprocity among the states, muzzle the ATF’s predatory activities against gun dealers, and stand firm against U.N. measures that infringe on our rights to keep and bear arms. In California Republicans can protest AB1934 which will almost totally eliminate our ability to carry a functional gun outside of our home, lobby to the state to accept “self defense” as good cause to issue a concealed weapon permit, and work to abolish the California semi-automatic rifle ban. Locally Republicans can frequent gun shops and ranges, use gun rights as a litmus test when vetting Republican candidates, give money to gun causes and events, and most of all speak up!
Doing some or all of those suggestions will solidify the Republican Party’s standing with gun owners. Doing nothing makes it that much easier for Second Amendment block-voters to put a mark next to the “D” candidate.
If you do nothing else, join the NRA, but whatever you do, right now is the time.
Mr. Schwartz is a local Second Amendment activist