The Guns of November

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Eric Slater of the L.A. Times reports that many gun rights activists are dismayed by the Bush administration's lousy record on civil liberties. He adds that "some gun owners have grown so disenchanted with President Bush that they may cast a protest vote for a third-party candidate, stay away from the polls, or even back the likely Democratic nominee, gun-control advocate John F. Kerry."

Unfortunately, Slater doesn't back up this claim with poll numbers or other non-anecdotal evidence, leading me to suspect he's talking about the same libertarian and populist types who wouldn't back Bush four years ago either. Still, the piece is worth a look. Here's a taste:

Five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, when many Americans were willing to give the president nearly anything he asked for in terms of security, NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre took the administration to task.

"I have great respect for this administration. But that doesn't mean I have to agree with confiscating nail clippers from grandmothers and poking magnetic wands up skirts" at airports, LaPierre told the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"Too many are too timid to ask what these outrages are supposed to achieve. Too many are too polite to say that our Bill of Rights is too sacred to give up for homeland security or for anything else," he said.

NEXT: Kurds on a Wire; Voter Mullahfication

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  1. This article was talking directly to me. When push comes to shove and I am really nervous about new legislation, I will vote for a complete tool who supports the right of self defence over an otherwise genious who wants to crap on it.

    As joe points out, I don’t know that the environment is such that much will change in either direction. I am not as scared about this as I was last election.

    My concern is that gun owners may become the NAACP of the right, politcally speaking. That is, no Democrat really gives a crap what the NAACP says, because they know without a doubt that the membership will vote for anybody who isn’t an elephant. The NRA set, of which I am probably one, is in danger of being taken equally seriously by the Republicans.

    So, I want to vote to send a message to the Repubs that small government MEANS small government. Kerry helps me not one bit. Every time he opens his mouth, it is to gripe that we need another program for this or that, and that we need a ‘real’ medicare bill, and so on. There is no message to send by voting for Kerry. I am currently in the mode of either voting LP or writing in Ron Paul to make my message as clear as possible.

    The pragmatic part of me won’t let me forget that this really is a de facto vote for Kerry, however, and that no message will be sent.

    Sigh.

  2. Jason-

    First, a vote for the LP won’t help Kerry if you don’t live in a swing state. It will, however, add to the LP’s total. There’s a good chance that the LP could come in 3rd place this time, as opposed to their 5th place showing last time. Nader has left the Greens, so the lefty 3rd party vote will be split. The Reform Party is, well, has anybody actually heard from them? So the LP has a decent shot at getting some attention with a 3rd place showing.

    However, there won’t be any reporting of tallies for write-in votes, so a write-in vote for Ron Paul won’t send a message.

    Also, even if you do live in a swing state, a vote for the LP has the potential to send the GOP an even bigger message, although I freely admit that the message will come at a price. The GOP won’t take much notice if they lose, say, CA by a 10% margin instead of an 8% margin because the LP siphoned off 2%. They’re more likely to notice if they lose, say, FL by a 1% margin and the LP gets 2%.

    Then again, the message sent in that swing state comes at a price, no doubt about it.

    But I guess my point is that a message will be sent, so you just have to weigh risk vs. reward.

  3. Jason,

    The “protest” vote has consequences – depending on where you vote! I live in a non-swing state and can freely support LP (as I did in 2000), except that I want to see their stance on the war. If your protest vote costs Bush the election and elects Kerry, there won’t be much use for your message since W will go home and won’t be in the mood for any messages 🙂

    Trying to support LP in local elections and building their presence in the House is a good start. I doubt they will get into the Senate anytime soon 🙁

  4. Nothing is cooler that misspelling “genius” in a public space. I am write goodly.

  5. I’m really psyched about the coming expiration of the semi-auto ban. 15 round magazines sell for $8 to police departments, but upwards of $80 for we the people. If you expect reauthorization, stock up on large cap 9s & 40s during the short “legal season.”

    Recall that Ashcroft deems the 2nd Amendment an individual right, and that the Emerson prosecution under Clinton died under Bush 2nd. I’ll use the expiring semi-auto ban as my bellweather.

    Oh, and HOV lanes have disappeared here in Joisey.

  6. Usoe:

    Try getting p7M13 magazines for $80. This is one area where I’ll gladly eat the depreciation in the value of my previous investments, though …

  7. How can I find out what constitutes a “swing state”? I live in AZ, I doubt that it is, but I’m curious.

    As to voting Bush or Kerry, I believe joe is right about neither victor meaning much to my gun rights. But I still think I’ll be voting my conscience (Lib) once again this election year, as I have each election year since about ’92.

  8. lowdog-

    I can’t recall all of them, but there are 18 states that Kerry and Bush are targeting. Arizona is actually one of them at the moment. Now, you may be surprised by that, but remember that it’s early in the campaign season. Arizona may be one of those states that isn’t all that close in the polls, but it’s close enough that neither campaign is going to ignore it just yet. I’m sure that as the campaign wears on the list of 18 states will dwindle, as some of them solidify behind one candidate or another, and AZ could be one of the states that eventually solidifies for one candidate or another (Bush, I assume).

  9. Unfortunately(?) I’m not an latimes.com registered user, so I can’t read the article. I do wonder if it addressed the legal difference in this year’s NRA support. Under “campaign finance reform” legislation, a lot of the tactics the NRA used in 2000 won’t be available in 2004.

    First Amendment, R.I.P.

  10. On a side note, the thing about “confiscating nail clippers from grandmothers” isn’t metaphor. My 85 year old grandmother recently flew, and yes, they did take a tiny little pair of scissors from her.

  11. thoreau, NM, AZ, CO, and NV are the pivot on which the Democratic realignment is going to turn. Targetting Arizona is about now, and the future.

    JL, The problem with your NAACP metaphor, here: “My concern is that gun owners may become the NAACP of the right, politcally speaking. That is, no Democrat really gives a crap what the NAACP says, because they know without a doubt that the membership will vote for anybody who isn’t an elephant. The NRA set, of which I am probably one, is in danger of being taken equally seriously by the Republicans” is that the Democratic Party actually gives its black/civil rights faction a seat at the leadership table, along with all its other factions.

    There are no “Democrats” who manage various interest groups – the groups are the Democrats, and each interest group gets a voice roughly in proportion to its size. Republicans aren’t any good at this kind of thing, partly because their lack of diversity has spared them from having to become adept at these issues, and partly because…well…they’re Republicans.

  12. Ok, thanks for the info, thoreau/joe – is there a convenient website that tracks these things? I’m looking around now but not exactly finding what I’m looking for.

  13. joe:

    Odd that Mfume gripes every year that nobody bothers to show up to woo his folks, and that his core issues aren’t ever addressed.

  14. Jason,

    The same gripe is heard from feminists, environmentalists, unions, eggheads, gays, freaks, geeks, blue dogs, Indians, Jews, Catholics, and every other subspecies of Democrat.

  15. It would be silly to vote based on gun control in this election. There isn’t going to be any major movement in either direction, regardless of whether Bush or Kerry wins.

    Then again, from the pov of a third party, I guess that’s a very good reason to vote based on gun laws.

  16. It wasn’t a bad piece, but I also got the impression it was like cherry-picking African-Americans against Kerry.

  17. In fact, Kerry and Bush have quite a distance between them on the gun issue. This is clear when viewing S1805, the Senate version of the lawsuit immunity bill for gun manufacturers. Bush urged a “clean bill”, while Kerry showed up in the Senate to vote for riders reauthorizing the assault weapon ban and restricting private gun sales at “gun shows”. Due to the riders, S1805 was killed. Since the Democrats have no other obvious vehicles in sight, it appears that the assault weapon ban will die this coming September.

    Bush’s problem is that his actions have been subtle, and many gun owners see him as little better than Kerry. Further, some gun owners want nothing less than the immediate overhaul of most gun laws–despite the fact that it’s not a reasonable expectation politically. In fact the Bush administration has been very good to gun rights, certainly in comparison to Clinton, and also in comparison to Bush 41.

    One additional point is that quite a few gun owners (judging by internet discussions) feel that the NRA is soft on gun control, or only cares about hunting guns, or only cares about the gun manufacturers (the last point is shared by many gun control advocates, and is demonstratable nonsense, as the NRA typically is in conflict with gun manufacturers, the financial intrests of gun manufacturers, etc). In fact, the NRA is a reasonable gun rights lobby, that has to be willing to compromise and engage in a level of political reality, and which represents the interests of its members.

  18. To add to the above, or rather tie it together, those who support the NRA tend to support Bush; and those who don’t support Bush tend to view the NRA as a sellout organization. This obviously isn’t a 1 to 1 mapping, but in general there appears to be a strong correlation. To some degree, Sol is correct, but it is also clear that Bush is not recieving the support from gun owners he might otherwise recieve.

  19. I have no doubt that, in their hearts, Bush and Kerry have different visions of what gun laws should be, Don. My point is, neither one is going to get close to what they want in their hearts.

    The Brady Bill is law, and it is not going away. Looking at the big picture, is the gun show loophole actually a major issue?

    Tiny fights over principle, that succeed in moving the ball half an inch up or down the field, is what the gun rights debate is about right now.

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