Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA

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  • DoubleActionCHL

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    Jun 23, 2008
    Spring, Texas
    Here's a story that will just piss you off. It's no surprise that the article is painfully biased, but the entire premise is wrong. The author believes that this election marks the death of the NRA because a pro-gun control electorate won the day. What he doesn't acknowledge is that gun control wasn't an issue. While Americans are very concerned about it, the media and the candidates strategically omitted this subject from the rhetoric. While the democrats won, this election was hardly a mandate for gun control.

    Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA
    By Alexander Zaitchik, AlterNet. Posted December 4, 2008.

    Among the big losers in November were the NRA and the myth of the once-feared "NRA Voter." Reform of our gun laws is on the way.

    Last month, voters across the country took a cue from the late Charlton Heston and pried the assault weapon from the NRA's cold, dead hands.
    Although the gun group unleashed everything in its arsenal to defeat Barack Obama and dozens of down ticket gun-control candidates, it lost by a margin as historic as the war chest it opened in an attempt to convince voters that Democrats were mortal enemies of the Second Amendment.

    Despite expending nearly $7 million in a national fear campaign, NRA-endorsed candidates lost 80 percent of their races against gun-control candidates. More than 90 percent of candidates endorsed by the NRA's nemesis, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, won their races. If 2008 was, in the NRA's own words, "arguably the most important year in its history," then the election results suggest that the gun group is arguably the most overhyped and impotent special-interest lobby in the country. The NRA even got its chamber cleaned in its home state of Virginia.

    The sweeping victory for gun control has been one of the most underreported stories of the election. This is largely because it was immediately overshadowed by the trendy postelection narrative of spiking gun sales and runs on assault weapons. In recent weeks, it seems as if every TV news program and newspaper in the country has featured some variation on the following story: Anxious Americans are cleaning out their local gun stores in anticipation of a.) Barack Obama's radical anti-gun agenda; b.) social chaos engendered by economic collapse; or c.) both.

    No doubt thousands of paranoid gun owners have purchased Glocks and AR-15 assault rifles out of such fears. And it is true that the economic crisis has fueled an interest in personal protection and even Northern Idaho-style survivalism. But sensational stories about booming holiday-season gun sales obscure a more profound phenomenon: the coalescence of a new consensus, joined by the majority of the nation's gun owners, in favor of what gun controllers call "commonsense reform." A subtext of this phenomenon is the evaporation, first witnessed in 2006 and reinforced last month, of the idea that guns are a sure thing conservative wedge issue.

    Nobody can accuse Obama of campaigning dishonestly on the issue of gun control. The nation's first modern urban president repeatedly explained that his understanding of the Second Amendment included the need for restrictions aimed at reducing gun violence, especially in the cities. In a sign that he intended to win on the issue by shooting straight with voters, he even mentioned his gun-control agenda during his Denver acceptance speech, challenging the idea that gun control was a third rail that guaranteed defeat in states like Ohio and Virginia.

    As codified in his urban policy platform, Obama consistently advocated for increasing law enforcement's ability to trace guns by reinstituting tracking legislation repealed by the Bush administration; closing the famous "gun show loophole" that allows gun buyers to avoid background checks; mandating additional safety features on U.S.-manufactured guns; and resurrecting the expired ban on assault weapons and making it permanent.
    Needless to say, every plank of this agenda is vigorously opposed by the NRA (spokespersons for whom did not return repeated requests for comment).

    Gun control is not a front-burner issue for an incoming administration faced with economic crisis and two wars, but the NRA is right to be worried. Not only do Obama and Biden have strong gun control records, the incoming attorney general is a one-man gun control lobby unto himself. As deputy A.G. in the Clinton administration, Eric Holder advocated federal licensing requirements for handguns, a three-day waiting period on some gun sales and rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month. More recently, he signed an amicus brief in support of the District of Columbia's handgun ban when it came before the Supreme Court. The conservative site newsmax.com calls Holder a "gun control nightmare."

    The NRA is going to have a hard time persuading America that it should awake from this nightmare. Not only do majorities support these strictures, the gun lobby recently lost one of its most effective arguments. When the Supreme Court decided in June in favor of individual gun rights in District of Colombia v. Heller, it settled the nagging question about whether the Constitution protected the right of an individual to own a gun, or whether that right only existed in the context of public militias. While in one sense Heller was a major victory for the gun lobby, it also deprived it of the legal ambiguity that allowed it to bludgeon gun owners with the idea that any gun-control law would inevitably lead to ATF SWAT teams -- or, in the case of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, U.N. blue helmets -- taking away all of their guns. Crucially, the decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, stated that "[l]ike most rights, the Second Amendment is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

    "Heller legally established the middle ground that we have long advocated," says Daniel R. Vice, senior attorney with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "It basically said the government could regulate guns in public while guaranteeing the right to private ownership. It obliterates the NRA's 'slippery slope' argument that any gun law [could someday] lead to the government taking away your guns."

    There is more bad news for the post-Charlton Heston NRA. Along with losing its scariest tactic and the aura of being able to swing elections (and thus scare Democrats away from championing gun control), it is also being challenged on its long-held assumption that it and it alone speaks for America's gun owners and hunters. A couple of years ago, the American Hunters and Sharpshooters Association was launched by Ray Schoenke, a pro-gun-control hunter, sportsman and liberal Democrat, to create an alternative home for those who support the Second Amendment as well as gun control. Along with advocating "commonsense" gun law reform, Schoenke's group backs strong environmental-protection laws in defense of hunting and fishing lands. The contradiction between the NRA's purported love of the outdoors lifestyle and its alliance with reactionary anti-environment politicians has long been the organization's soft underbelly, ripe for attack. Schoenke's group is going after it.

    "I've been saying for years that Democrats shouldn't cede the gun vote to the NRA," says Schoenke. "There are over 80 million gun owners in the U.S., and fewer than 3 million belong to that group. They do not speak for all of us -- especially those of us who are Democrats, progressives and conservationists."

    Not surprisingly, the NRA dismisses the AHSA as a sham left-wing project that gives cover to anti-gun politicians posing as friends of hunters. "[ASHA is nothing more than] an effort to mislead and divide the gun-owning community and to dilute gun owners' political impact," fumed an NRA blogger shortly before last month's election, when AHSA's Schoenke was touring states like Ohio and Minnesota in support of Barack Obama. "Anti-gun activists are creat[ing] new organizations with names designed to confuse gun owners and hide the real agenda."

    While the AHSA does still have the feel of a letterhead organization, it is possible that it could one day begin to rival the NRA for membership and stature among gun owners. For the NRA, the realization that not all gun owners are Second Amendment absolutists who take NRA political ratings as voting guides must be maddening. The frustration will only deepen in the coming years, as commonsense gun-control legislation is crafted and passed with public support.

    Until then, the NRA will continue to believe it speaks for America's gun owners, threatening its lobbying wrath on any politician who tries to restrict the right of Americans to buy and sell whatever guns they like, in secrecy and without a paper trail. As the new gun laws go into effect, the group can be expected to increase the pitch of its warnings about impending fascism and the dark shadow of the United Nations. The question is whether anybody will be listening.

    Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA | Rights and Liberties | AlterNet


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    Mar 11, 2008
    DFW, North Texas
    I haven't read that yet, but I did notice that some (anti-gun I'm sure) seemed to take the election results and try to charade it as a crippling blow to the NRA. The only angle I could see was that the candidate that the NRA was NOT supporting won, which is a crippling blow to the NRA proving the NRA has lost it's strength and has become weak.

    I'm not sure how else they can be trying to spin it, but as you say, there was no big gun-control issue. I just seems they are trying to put the NRA in a loosing fight which they never fought or knew they were fighting.


    Active Member
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    May 4, 2008
    The NRA has endorsed the existence of Jackboot Inc.......I mean the BATFE - they have been dead as a "rights" defense group for a long time.

    Remember what they did when the first AWB was passed and they got a bunch of money from that outcry?

    Oh yeah, they built a museum - guess they wanted to show you the guns you USED to be able to own.

    They seem to be unable to recognize that they are playing a zero-sum game, you CANNOT give ground. You may loose battles, but what they are doing is compromising the 2am right into oblivion. If they would actually grow a set I might give them money, but at this point all of my donations go to JPFO and GOA. They are not as big nor do they have a multi-million dollar office in the beltway, but they do have one thing the NRA doesn't:

    Unbendable principals when it comes to firearm ownership.


    Active Member
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    Feb 29, 2008
    It's alternet - pretty standard for for them.

    http://www.alternet.org/about/index.html#SC said:
    AlterNet is an award-winning news magazine and online community that creates original journalism and amplifies the best of hundreds of other independent media sources. AlterNet's aim is to inspire action and advocacy on the environment, human rights and civil liberties, social justice, media, health care issues, and more. Since its inception in 1998, AlterNet.org has grown dramatically to keep pace with the public demand for independent news. We provide free online content to millions of readers, serving as a reliable filter, keeping our vast audience well-informed and engaged, helping them to navigate a culture of information overload and providing an alternative to the commercial media onslaught. Our aim is to stimulate, inform, and instigate.

    They're dedicated lefties at alternet, so such a perspective on guns is less than surprising to the point of being ... expected.


    Active Member
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    Jul 17, 2008
    I'd be interested in seeing the increase in contributions post election was. I'm sure that would prove the NRA is in no way dying.


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    Feb 23, 2008
    San Antonio
    I haven't read that yet, but I did notice that some (anti-gun I'm sure) seemed to take the election results and try to charade it as a crippling blow to the NRA. The only angle I could see was that the candidate that the NRA was NOT supporting won, which is a crippling blow to the NRA proving the NRA has lost it's strength and has become weak.

    I'm not sure how else they can be trying to spin it, but as you say, there was no big gun-control issue. I just seems they are trying to put the NRA in a loosing fight which they never fought or knew they were fighting.

    There was no need to try to fight the NRA since this was a two-issue election; race and the economy. The other issues, immigration, abortion, gun rights, war on terror, etc. weren't even on the stove much less the back burner once the debates started. People voted with emotion rather than their brains and I agree that the NRA didn't do enough to show people Obama's track record on gun rights.

    I don't remember a time when the media was so involved in electing a candidate as they did in this election. I guess the pen is mightier than the sword, or gun in this case.


    Active Member
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    Jun 8, 2008
    I agree with Chevydeerhunter, the idiots that voted for Obama did so because he was half black, I saw one news clip that showed a semi-elderly black man and ask him why he voted for Obama, and his answer? You guessed it, because he was black, not because of anything else!:( This "writer" didn't do his homework AT ALL. I just pray that Obama doesn't get the chance to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, let alone 2 of them!!!


    TGT Addict
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    May 29, 2017
    Austin, TX
    I would say that 99.9% of black people voted for Obama, and the ones who didn't checked the wrong box by mistake.

    That's an idiotic comment.

    There are idiots in every race that are shallow enough to vote for someone because of skin color alone. For every black person that voted for Obama because he's black there is a white person that "isn't going to vote for no negro".

    It doesn't matter anyways. The black vote is historically democrat.

    This editorial is more of a concocted story in the author's head. The author has convinced themselves of it's validity, and has become rampant in it's procreation. You could make the same deduction on numerous topics.
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