March 30th, 2009 12:08 PM
Fox News: The power of the NRA
On foxnews.com this morning.
WASHINGTON -- When Democrats acted last month to give the District of Columbia long-denied voting rights in Congress, the powerful gun lobby saw a target too good not to take a shot at.
The National Rifle Association's lobbyists made it clear to lawmakers that they believed the bill should include a measure to overturn the capital's gun control laws. Left mostly unsaid, but well understood by all 535 members of the House and Senate, was that failure to do so would unleash a barrage of political pain on resisters.
The result showed the strong sway the NRA has even over a Congress dominated by liberal Democrats who mostly disagree with the organization's positions. The Senate voted overwhelmingly to add the gun-rights proposal. House Democratic leaders, fearing a tough vote on the issue, swiftly scrapped plans to consider the D.C. voting legislation.
The bill hasn't resurfaced because Democrats cannot figure out how to keep it from splitting their ranks. Moderates and conservatives don't want to buck the NRA. Liberals are reluctant to be blackmailed into loosening gun laws.
The 138-year-old group derives its influence from a large and motivated base of members, particularly in rural areas and the South.
Its much younger political arm, set up in 1975, wields a carefully honed system for grading lawmakers and candidates based on how often they side with the NRA's legislative priorities. Their lobbyists tell lawmakers that they will be "scoring" specific bills -- the equivalent of saying, "We're watching you, and if you vote the wrong way, there will be consequences."
That scoring system helps determine which candidates the group supports in campaigns. That decision can be an important factor in elections.
The group's political action committee spent $15.6 million on campaign donations during the past two years, according to disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission. The lion's share of the money went to challenging gun control advocates, especially President Barack Obama. The rest went to support strongly pro-gun candidates.
The NRA generally avoids contributing to lawmakers who don't vote with it. Many other organizations cultivate relationships with Congress by spreading their campaign cash around even to leaders and committee heads who don't always back their causes.
"The power of the NRA is in the millions of members all over the country who believe strongly in their freedom and their willingness to fight for it," said Chris W. Cox, the group's chief lobbyist.
Many, if not most NRA members give the group's ratings an enormous amount of weight on Election Day. "The political reality ... is that gun control's a loser," Cox said. If lawmakers "vote wrong on guns, history has shown they lose."
In the case of the voting rights bill, for example, the NRA quietly put out the word that it would score a procedural measure to set ground rules for the debate -- and determine whether the anti-gun control proposal could or could not be offered. That meant a vote to advance the bill without reversing the district's gun laws could cost a lawmaker the NRA's political support. It was enough to halt the measure in its tracks.
The following week, House Democratic leaders saw a wilderness conservation measure defeated after they tried to push it through under expedited procedures to avoid a contentious vote on gun rights. The measure passed Congress on Wednesday, only after House and Senate leaders agreed to a provision to placate the NRA through language by Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., clarifying that the bill wouldn't impose new restrictions on hunting, fishing or trapping on federal land.
Gun control activists say they are baffled by the sway the gun lobby has over Congress. They argue the NRA no longer dictates election outcomes and that the group inflates its own importance.
"They operate on the principle of fear. They're trying to hold some mythical power from the early '90s over the heads of leadership that I think is totally irrelevant to what's going on today, but still has some long legs," said Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Helmke said NRA's recent efforts to demonstrate its clout are partly "a sign of desperation. They realize this is probably their last gasp in terms of trying to be the force that they used to be."
Backers, however, argue that the group is growing in influence now that former President George W. Bush, a strongly pro-gun president, has been replaced with Obama. The former Illinois senator gets an "F" rating from the group despite his stated support for Second Amendment rights.
"Right now, they're having to play a lot more defense than they ever have before, and so the NRA membership around the country is more engaged," said Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., an NRA board member and a co-chair of the newly formed Second Amendment Task Force in Congress.
Democratic leaders are increasingly aware of that, particularly because many of their new members who are responsible for handing the party their majority are either strongly pro-gun or from states and districts where gun rights is a major issue.
"Democrats want to stay in the majority, and one of the ways to keep us in the majority is not to tilt toward gun control," Boren said.
The task force recently wrote Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warning against any attempt to reinstate a ban on the sale of assault weapons.
Attorney General Eric Holder said last month that the Obama administration wanted to bring back the expired ban. It gave the NRA and other gun rights groups an important tool that fuels the work of countless Washington interest groups: a tangible threat with which to motivate supporters.
Gun rights groups are also increasingly worried that an outbreak in violence at the U.S.-Mexico border could pave the way for a raft of new gun control measures.
"We certainly expect to have defensive fights, and those are fights that were ready for," Cox said.
The first rule of a gunfight: "Don't be there !"
The second rule: "Bring enough gun"
jfl (NRA Life Member/Instructor - GOA - IDPA - GSSF - ex-IHMSA)
March 30th, 2009 12:27 PM
Significantly left unsaid in this article, the capital's gun control laws are in direct violation of the recent SCOTUS Heller decision.
Originally Posted by jfl
March 30th, 2009 12:53 PM
So in order to eliminate the unconstitutional gun laws we have to agree with the unconstitutional idea of giving DC voting rights?
While people are saying "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, ... and they will not escape. 1Th 5:3
March 30th, 2009 01:07 PM
Giving DC voting rights is unconstitutional? I thought all citizens had the right to be represented...
March 30th, 2009 01:10 PM
Hey, it's Congress..........don't try to understand. It's like passing $ 750 million spending measures for a "medical filing system" that never received substantive debate! <Sarcasm Off>
Originally Posted by JAT40
You're right - it is disgusting, but it killed the DC measure for now.
March 30th, 2009 02:02 PM
Regarding representation in congress, yes. Article 1 specifies how states get representatives and senators; DC was planned when the Constitution was written but didn't actually exist then, and obviously isn't a state.
Originally Posted by Paladin132
Article 1, section 8, clause 17: [The Congress shall have Power] "To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States,..."
If a law giving DC a voting member of congress is passed, it is guaranteed to be challenged in court. Seems to me that the existence of the DC City Council violates 1:8:17 as well.
The 23d amendment (1964) established DC electors for president and vice-president, so DC residents can vote and be counted in presidential elections.
March 30th, 2009 02:04 PM
1943 - 2009
Yes, it is.
Originally Posted by Paladin132
Article 1, Section 2, United States Constitution:
"The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several States..."
The District of Columbia is not a State.
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier.
March 30th, 2009 02:20 PM
I read somewhere that the whole voting issue in DC is a strategy from the Democrats to gain additional seats in congress. Don't know if that is likely or not if DC gets representation.
March 30th, 2009 02:24 PM
Technically, DC did start allowing gun registrations, onerous as the current process is. The amendment on the voting rights bill was a rather a stronger measure---it would have dismantled the current registration system almost completely and replaced it with something pretty straightforward.
Paladin132, yes, it is unconstitutional to put a voting member for the District of Columbia in Congress. The House and Senate are defined in the Constitution as consisting of State representatives. Currently, there are non-voting members who represent the Federal territories (like Puerto Rico and Guam and, I am pretty sure, DC) and sit in the House as observers; they are called Residential Commissioners.
Nowhere in that setup are the Constitutional voting rights of any U.S. citizen violated, because the only votes guaranteed to the People by the Constitution are for Representatives and Senators, who must represent a State (and Senators only due to a later Amendment). In fact, DC is already one up on other Federal territories, because it gets 3 electoral votes for president; other territories do not.
In fact, if a voting representative for the District is ever seated without a Constitutional Amendment, I expect any state AG with any cajones whatsoever to immediately start suing to prevent enaction of any legislation voted on by Congress, because the existence of such a Representative would be a near automatic disenfrachisement of every State citizen and a dilution of State's rights in general.
“What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia
SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.
March 30th, 2009 02:38 PM
DC House of Representative. Hummmm that’s a good one..
The District of Columbia now know as Washington or DC was never made part of a state, because it was run by the Federal Government.
So you mean the Federal Government wants to have its own vote.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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For the novel by Gore Vidal, see Washington, D.C. (novel)
Washington, D.C. (pronounced /ˈwɒʃɪŋtən ˌdiːˈsiː/), formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States, founded on July 16, 1790. The City of Washington was originally a separate municipality within the Territory of Columbia until an act of Congress in 1871 effectively merged the City and the Territory into a single entity called the District of Columbia. It is for this reason that the city, while legally named the District of Columbia, is known as Washington, D.C. The city is located on the north bank of the Potomac River and is bordered by the states of Virginia to the southwest and Maryland to the other sides. The District has a resident population of 591,833; however, because of commuters from the surrounding suburbs, its population rises to over one million during the workweek. The Washington Metropolitan Area, of which the District is a part, has a population of 5.3 million, the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the country.
Article One of the United States Constitution provides for a federal district, distinct from the states, to serve as the permanent national capital. The centers of all three branches of the federal government of the United States are located in the District, as are many of the nation's monuments and museums. Washington, D.C., hosts 174 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). The headquarters of other institutions such as trade unions, lobbying groups, and professional associations are also located in the District.
The United States Congress has supreme authority over Washington, D.C.; residents of the city therefore have less self-governance than residents of the states. The District has a non-voting at-large Congressional delegate, but no senators. D.C. residents could not vote in presidential elections until the ratification of the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1961.
March 30th, 2009 02:52 PM
I like the fact that the NRA is playing hardball and the political game. I had to note who the NRA board member and co-chair for 2A...as I mentioned, it will be vitally important in the coming years to keep and convince more Democrats...whether you like it or not...because they hold the cards right now. The reality is politics, sadly, is ruled by fear...the fear of not getting reelected.
March 30th, 2009 06:53 PM
As we've seen in the news lately, the Brady Bunch would like you to think that the NRA is losing clout on The Hill. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Team Obama Halts Talk of Assault Weapons Ban | Newsweek Periscope | Newsweek.com
By Michael Isikoff | NEWSWEEK
Published Mar 28, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now the second member of President Obama's cabinet to get shot down by the White House over the politically sensitive issue of assault weapons. After meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Clinton said that reinstating the U.S. ban on assault weaponswhich was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004is one step this country could take to curb the flow of guns to Mexico's drug cartels. "These military-style weapons don't belong on anybody's street," Clinton told NBC. Within hours, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that he was unaware of "any plans" to push for such a baneven though Obama had backed one during last year's campaign.
Attorney General Eric Holder had a similar experience a few weeks earlier. After he endorsed a ban at a Feb. 25 press conference, Justice officials were instructed by White House aides to drop the issue, according to administration and congressional aides who asked not to be named due to political sensitivities. What's behind the shift? A budding relationship between the gun lobby and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill. After Holder mentioned the ban, the National Rifle Association sent out action alerts to its members and bombarded Hill offices with calls. Sixty-five House Dems dashed off a letter to Holder opposing such a ban, while Speaker Nancy Pelosiechoing the NRA's mantra on all gun-control issuessaid she backed "enforcing the laws we have now."
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told NEWSWEEK that Hill Democrats have "learned their lesson" from 1994, when they enacted the ban and subsequently lost control of Congress. They've also learned that cozying up to the NRA can pay big dividends. Last year Democrats received 20 percent of the nearly $1.2 million that the NRA pumped into congressional campaign coffersmore than twice what it gave to Dems just six years earlier. The way things are going, this could be more than a shotgun wedding.
Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. — Winston Churchill
March 30th, 2009 07:08 PM
As has been previously stated, the original intent of DC was to prevent any one state from owning the capitol, and therefore having more power than the other states.
Anybody who thinks DC is not represented is overlooking the 535 members of Congress that already live in the District.
I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth.--Steve McQueen
March 30th, 2009 08:10 PM
Would love to have seen Hildabeast's face on that one.
March 30th, 2009 08:23 PM
I wonder if all this money and time spent on trying to ban \ control guns was put into other efforts that the problem of gun crime may be reduced further than simply just banning guns.
ie we need to ask the question what drives someone to pick up a gun in the first place ?
- bad upbringing ? spend money and time on educating people to be better parents.
- poverty ? spend money on creating jobs and affordable homes for people
- failing the above make the consequences for crime so horrible that no man would consider turning to crime, either that or lock people away for life
Seems the anti gun people have become to focused on the tools of crime and not the root causes of it.
Evil prevails when good men stand by and do nothing
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