We are told the NRA are a bunch of ineffective weenies, who do nothing to fight for our gun rights, and exhibit demonstrably poor leadership on the issue.Â Demonstrably poor leadership like capitalizing on Holder’s gaffe to actually ram a repeal of an “assault weapons” ban though an overwhelmingly Democratic controlled Senate.Â It’s a local repeal, but if this passes the House in tact, and is signed by Obama, it’ll be legal to buy an AR-15 in DC with just a 4473 and NICS check.
The benefit of this, even if the gun rights language does not survive the conference committee, has been to force Senators, and soon House members, to put their cards on the table.Â This lets us know far better where we stand in the 111th Congress than we did before.Â Let’s look at some of our yes votes that were unexpected:
- Bayh (D-IN) – Not always friendly to guns, but voted with us.
- Bennet (D-CO) – We knew nothing about Bennet’s position on guns before this.
- Byrd (D-WV) – Byrd can be tricky on guns sometimes.Â He was with us on this.
- Conrad (D-ND) – Not expected.Â Good news.
- Dorgan (D-ND) – Also not expected.
- Feingold (D-WI)- Expected, but also can be tricky on guns.
- Gregg (R-NH) – He stuck with his fellow Republicans.Â We applaud him.
- Hagan (D-NC) – F rated, so this is a real surprise.
- Landrieu (D-LA) – Very good for this C rated Senator.
- Lincoln (D-AR) – Excellent.
- McCaskill (D-MO) – Pleasant surprise.Â F rated and AHSA endorsed.
- Pryor (D-AR) – Surprise
- Reid (D-NV) – Expected, but worthwhile to point out Reid is mostly pro-gun.
- Udall (D-CO) – Pleasant surprise
- Udall (D-NM) – Pleasant surprise
- Snowe (R-ME) – Held with party.Â Unexpected.
- Specter (R-PA) – Expected, but likes to split with Rs often.
- Collins (R-ME) – Held with party. Unexpected.
Notables in the no column were Dick Lugar, the only Republican to vote against this, and Kirsten Gillibrand, who has now clearly calculated to retreat on gun rights a bit.Â This is not to say the vote will be identical if an semi-auto ban comes up.Â We’ll lose some of these yes votes, who represent politicians trying to split the middle on guns on an issue important to NRA, but not likely to be noted too heavily by the folks back home.Â But we got the Senate on record, and soon the House.Â That is tremendously valuable to us heading into the 2010 midterms.Â We have to pick up pro-gun seats in 2010.Â Don’t for a minute believe politicians like Obama, Pelosi, and their ilk won’t kneecap us at the earliest opportunity. The votes aren’t there right now, and we have to keep things that way.
For now, things are looking better than I thought. Congress didn’t just run from Holder’s remarks, they got in the car and peeled out in the opposite direction, choking him on burnt rubber.Â This is not behavior politicians exhibit toward an ineffectual organization, especially after such a stunning blow in 2008.Â But you know what?Â I don’t credit NRA for this. They were just willing to exploit it on The Hill.Â The credit goes to the millions of people getting active, buying guns, buying ammo, renewing their NRA memberships, getting concealed carry licenses, and generally engaging in activities that make politicians take notice.Â NRA is nothing without engaged members, and at the end of the day, that’s what the politicians are really afraid of.Â Let’s keep it that way.