The Knox Update
From the Firearms Coalition
Swing for the Fences!
By Jeff Knox
The election of Scott Brown in
Rights groups go to great lengths to maintain a non-partisan position, supporting and endorsing candidates based on their positions rather than their party affiliation. But the fact is that the official position of the Democrats is to restrict firearms while the official position of the Republican Party is to support individual gun rights. That means that Democrats being in trouble is good news to the rights movement. The trend is anti-incumbent with an emphasis on Democrats so all of those politicians coming up for reelection, regardless of party affiliation, are desperate to make friends and avoid stirring up enemies.
What this means for grass roots rights activists is unprecedented influence. Few issues can stir up more voters than the gun issue – and unlike most other hot-button issues, only one side of the gun issue can deliver large numbers of voters – our side. In 2004 the Democrats downplayed “gun control” for the first time since the assassination of NRA Life Member John F. Kennedy. Since the Kerry run for the presidency, Democrats have carefully tiptoed around the gun issue, offering lip-service to both sides of the fight, declaring support for the Second Amendment, and using back-room deals and parliamentary tricks to quietly sideline all but the most innocuous gun bills. The strategy has worked well, effectively neutering pro-rights forces by lulling GunVoters to sleep. Well GunVoters are not asleep this year, but without clear votes on major, well publicized gun legislation – either pro or anti – there will be little to energize and activate them leading into the November elections.
2010 is the year to change the trend.
With politicians scrambling for support wherever they can find it, rights activists are finding a warmer reception in more political offices than ever before. Republicans are ready to actively back much stronger pro-rights legislation than they have been willing to support in the past and pro-rights Democrats are more willing to demand that their party leaders give them an opportunity to go on the record with pro-rights votes they can use to bolster their support with the GunVoters back home.
This is a strategic opportunity. This is the year to introduce and force record votes on bold pro-rights legislation. In this environment, getting critical votes is more likely than in recent years and the chances of passage are as good as anyone has ever seen. But the real beauty is that even if pro-rights legislation fails, as long as we get the record vote, we win!
Having a clear record vote on a strong, widely supported rights bill provides ammunition needed to stir up our troops and get them involved in working to defeat those who voted against us. It allows GunVoters to take credit when those politicians are replaced by new folks who are more rights-friendly. A new legislature with new leadership and a bunch of new politicians who owe a debt of gratitude to GunVoters is unlikely to take a chance on offending that important support base when the same (or an even better) pro-rights bill is introduced next year.
The bases are loaded and we have players in the outfield who have bet heavily on our team. This is a game-changer moment. It’s not a time to bunt. We need to swing for the fences. Taking an easy single – getting some marginal tweak to bad legislation – might be an easy score, but it would also give cover to the enemies of the Second Amendment. Now is not the time for timid, baby-step proposals. 2010 should be a year of rights activists swinging for the fences in every state legislature in the country.
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