As I am writing this article, I'm sitting in a lounge chair on my patio. A strong wind is blowing and dark clouds are rolling in. It's clear that a storm is coming. Well, I wish the only storm brewing was related to the weather! Eight years of relative peace on the federal front are coming to a close and political storm clouds are gathering. President Bush didn't go out of his way to help gun owners, but he didn't hurt us either, even when pressured to do so after the Democrats took control of Congress and tried to "deal" on legislation he wanted.
Gun owners have enjoyed tremendous success at the polls for several years, even considering the Democrats regaining majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. Many of the newly elected Democrats claim to truly support the Second Amendment, but only time and an opportunity to vote on gun bills will tell whether these claims are election rhetoric or true commitments.
One thing is certain, the 2008 Presidential Election offers the very real prospect of returning an anti-gun President to the White House. This has implications even more ominous than the 1994 passage of the Clinton gun-ban, also known as the "assault weapons" ban. As noted, many of the "new" Democrats in Washington have not had the opportunity or misfortune to see a vote on a gun bill. So Second Amendment supporters must still view the likelihood that the Democratic Party's margins in both the House and the Senate will increase as an ominous possibility. Clearly, the battle to defend our Second Amendment rights is far from over.
After suffering stunning defeats at the polls in 2000 and 2004, anti-freedom groups like the Violence Policy Center, Sara Brady and their ilk focused on state legislatures. They were hardly content to accept the demise of the so-called "assault weapons" ban and introduced even more menacing legislation in several states. After taking control of the U.S. House and Senate, the Democrats introduced an even more Draconian "assault weapons" ban at the federal level. Though filed, this bill has not been pushed by the Democrats for fear it would hurt them in the 2008 Elections. The anti-gun forces bankrolling the anti-gun Democrats are confident that whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is in the White House, they will remember them as their "friends." So if we see a President Obama or President Clinton in 2008, then the far-reaching "new" assault weapons ban will be the first of many battles we will have to fight. Remember, Obama has stated he supports not only the assault weapons ban, but also a federal law banning concealed carry by citizens throughout the entire Country!
Under President Bush's direction, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton lead a successful fight against anti-gun forces within the United Nations and against George Soros' puppet Rebecca Peters, all of whom were trying to do with a UN treaty what the anti-gun forces have been unable to do in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the U.N. small arms treaty is like a summer cold, it always seems to come back. If Clinton or Obama are in the White House and Democrats like Senators Schumer and Feinstein continue to enjoy a majority in the Senate, a devastating U.N. smalls arms treaty is a very real possibility.
At a time when we should be gearing up for battle, there is a distinct danger that the pro-Second Amendment voter base has grown complacent, because of our successes at the state and federal levels for the last eight years. Our victories have been numerous. The NRA and its state associations have steadfastly expanded law-abiding citizens' rights to carry handguns for self-defense. "Shall issue" concealed carry statutes are now the rule, rather than the exception, in the majority of states; a feat many would have considered impossible only a few years ago. Anti-lawsuit statutes have been passed in several states to protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous, politically motivated suits filed solely to drive them out of business. This is in addition to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed at the federal level to provide a two-pronged defense.
The NRA also took action in response to the atrocities inflicted on helpless citizens in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Former Mayor Ray Nagin, illegally and unconstitutionally ordered the confiscation of all firearms from law-abiding but stranded and helpless citizens, leaving them without the means of self-defense at a time when their lives were clearly in danger. As one woman said, "They didn't offer me a drink of water, they didn't offer me any food, they didn't offer me a ride out, they just took my gun and left!" Thanks to the NRA, federal legislation was passed preventing the repeat of such despicable acts by public officials. However, the NRA didn't stop there. Suit was filed on behalf of citizens whose property was illegally confiscated and the scope of Mayor Nagin's lies and deeds came to light during the discovery process. We should also take pride in the fact that this suit was made possible because the NRA had investigators on location in New Orleans to obtain documentary proof of Mayor Nagin's quest.
The NRA made passage of laws commonly known as the "Castle Doctrine" a top priority in the states. These laws vary by state, but at their core they allow a citizen to defend themselves from violent attack, without having to worry about facing prosecution and prison. Many of the states included civil liability protection in their version of the "Castle Doctrine."
But make no mistake, all of these successes are in danger. With the Democrats in control of the House and Senate, not only do we face the very real possibility of another assault weapons ban that is more encompassing than Bill Clinton's version, we could see the repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and the Emergency Powers Act that prohibits the confiscation of firearms in times of emergency. If John McCain is President, he likely would veto such legislation; Clinton or Obama would sign it with a big grin on their face.
I made this statement in 2005 and it bears repeating.
Ironically, our successes can actually work against us, unless we are ever vigilant. It is comforting to see the great strides we have made, but we cannot allow that success to lull us into complacency. Rather, we must use our successes as a springboard for new efforts.
Unfortunately, three years after first making this statement, our "new efforts" are going to be directed largely toward protecting what we have gained.
There is much work to be done. In truth the fight to defend all Constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment, will never end. There will be times of relative peace as we enjoyed from 2000 to 2008, but the threat will always be present to some greater or lesser degree. While we have to guard against complacency that is born of success, so too must we guard against fatigue caused by a seemingly endless battle. So how do we accomplish this? We win by staying in the fight with our commitment of time, energy, effort and money. If you are not a member of the NRA and the TSRA, then by all means join both. If you are already a member, then consider a donation or better yet, regular sustaining donations. Our successes have always come at the cost of time, effort and money and this isn't going to change. In addition to money, be ready to respond to a call to action by voting, getting others to vote to support their Second Amendment Right, and placing calls, faxes and emails to Senators and Representatives.
Millions of our ancestors fought World War I, the "war to end all wars," with the fervent hope that their children would know war only on the pages of history books. But only 23 years later, Americans found themselves in World War II locked in a battle to save our way of life. We've learned there is no "war to end all wars" whether it is fought on the battlefield, or in the political arena. So pray for peace, even if only for a little while, but do so while preparing for the coming political battles. To do less would guarantee the demise of the Second Amendment.