The 2008 elections results are in and the National Rifle Association is the big loser. The NRA declared that it intended to spend $40 million on the 2008 elections. Much of this money was specifically targeted toward efforts to defeat Barack Obama. The NRA sent out mailings and ran radio and television ads, warning that Obama would be “the most anti-gun President in American history.” They spent heavily in swing states that, despite their alarms, went decisively for Obama including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
As the New York Times pointed out in their December 1st editorial:
"The gun lobby has long intimidated politicians with its war chest and its trumpeted ability to deliver single-issue voters, especially in tight races. After this year’s election, those politicians should be far less afraid and far more willing to vote for sensible gun-control laws."
The editorial went on to point out:
"In Congressional races, the N.R.A. endorsed candidates in 20 of the 25 races where Democrats picked up seats from Republicans. We will not miss Florida’s Tom Feeney and Ric Keller, Idaho’s Bill Sali, Michigan’s Joe Knollenberg, Ohio’s Steve Chabot, Colorado’s Marilyn Musgrave and Pennsylvania’s Phil English — willing champions of an extreme agenda.
On the Senate side, the N.R.A. spent considerable sums to help Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Bob Schaffer, the Republican Senate candidate in Colorado. Both were defeated."
The NRA also had a very poor showing in New England in both congressional and state house races.
In Massachusetts and Rhode Island every single winning candidate for the U.S. House and Senate received an “F” rating from the NRA. An “F” rating is given to candidates that, according to the NRA, are “true enemies of gun owners’ rights.”
In New Hampshire, “A” rated and NRA endorsed incumbent Republican Senator John Sununu lost to Democratic challenger Jeanne Shaheen. Shaheen is also considered a “true enemy” of the NRA having received an “F” rating. Connecticut appears to be overrun with “true enemies” with 58% of the winning state Senators receiving an “F” rating from the NRA.
In Maine the two seats that the Democrats picked up in the state Senate were both seats where the NRA endorsed the losing Republican incumbent candidate. Five of the seats the Democrats picked up in the state House were also seats where the NRA endorsed the losing incumbent Republican.
The NRA did better in Vermont, endorsing the winning candidates for both Governor and Congress. But even in Vermont, a state where no concealed weapons permit is needed to carry a gun, thirty percent of the winning state house candidates didn’t even bother to return the NRA’s election questionnaire. According to the NRA, failure to answer their questions is “often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owner’s rights.” How important can the endorsement of the NRA be when so many candidates didn’t take the trouble to return the questionnaire?
The NRA likes to scare legislators with the myth that they can turn out a significant block of single-issue, pro-gun voters. In the 2008 elections the NRA failed to deliver. And if you look back to the 2006 mid-term elections you will find that the NRA spent 80% of its money on losing candidates. Again, the NRA failed to deliver.
Americans want stronger gun laws. Survey after survey shows this. The majority of Americans believe it is possible to protect an individual’s right to own a gun while at the same time regulating the purchase, possession and carrying of guns. As President-elect Obama has said, “don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals.”
The NRA doesn’t want you to look at how poorly their endorsed candidates did in this election. Instead, they want to continue pushing fear and pushing guns. But it is time for our elected officials to understand that Americans want to move beyond the fear tactics of the NRA. It is time for legislators to take a stand, join us, and support meaningful, common sense gun laws.