Commentary Magazine


Topic: Colorado recall elections

The Gun Control Moment Passes

It seems a lot longer ago than just eight months. Back on January 16 of this year, President Obama sounded what was intended to be the keynote of his second term by saying that he intended to introduce a raft of legislative proposals intended to tighten controls of gun ownership. With the memory of the slaughter of little children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School by a mad lone gunman fresh in the minds of the new Congress, some believed he would succeed in not only getting gun-control bills passed but also in routing the National Rifle Association in such a manner as to break their hold on Washington power forever. With new anti-gun groups led by billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords spending big bucks to promote the issue, the NRA’s days were supposed to be numbered. But in the intervening months, the groundswell of passion on behalf of background-checks laws and other measures turned out to be nothing more than a figment of the imagination of the liberal mainstream media that relentlessly backed Obama’s play on guns.

Any lingering doubt that the gun-control moment has passed was removed last night when two Democratic state senators in Colorado were removed from office by a recall vote because of their support for new gun legislation. Despite benefiting from the infusion of more than $3 million in outside contributions from anti-gun groups, including $300,000 from Bloomberg, the pair—State Senate President John Morse and Angela Giron—was beaten by Republicans in the recall vote. What’s more, though the two Democrats were the focus of fierce opposition by the NRA, as I noted when I first wrote about these races back in July, the Democrats had a clear financial advantage in the race. The guns-rights lobby’s only advantage was in being able to mobilize a grass-roots movement.

Liberals are attempting to spin their defeat as the result of local politics and resentment about the interference of New York’s champion of nanny-state regulations in Colorado. But they’re fooling no one. Like the battle to get the U.S. Senate to pass even a watered-down version of a background checks proposal, the recall vote was a test of will between the NRA and the anti-gun movement and the former won hands down. Though terrible events like Newtown shock the nation and polls show majorities back some regulatory measures, the notion that support for Second Amendment rights has waned is simply untrue.

Read More

It seems a lot longer ago than just eight months. Back on January 16 of this year, President Obama sounded what was intended to be the keynote of his second term by saying that he intended to introduce a raft of legislative proposals intended to tighten controls of gun ownership. With the memory of the slaughter of little children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School by a mad lone gunman fresh in the minds of the new Congress, some believed he would succeed in not only getting gun-control bills passed but also in routing the National Rifle Association in such a manner as to break their hold on Washington power forever. With new anti-gun groups led by billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords spending big bucks to promote the issue, the NRA’s days were supposed to be numbered. But in the intervening months, the groundswell of passion on behalf of background-checks laws and other measures turned out to be nothing more than a figment of the imagination of the liberal mainstream media that relentlessly backed Obama’s play on guns.

Any lingering doubt that the gun-control moment has passed was removed last night when two Democratic state senators in Colorado were removed from office by a recall vote because of their support for new gun legislation. Despite benefiting from the infusion of more than $3 million in outside contributions from anti-gun groups, including $300,000 from Bloomberg, the pair—State Senate President John Morse and Angela Giron—was beaten by Republicans in the recall vote. What’s more, though the two Democrats were the focus of fierce opposition by the NRA, as I noted when I first wrote about these races back in July, the Democrats had a clear financial advantage in the race. The guns-rights lobby’s only advantage was in being able to mobilize a grass-roots movement.

Liberals are attempting to spin their defeat as the result of local politics and resentment about the interference of New York’s champion of nanny-state regulations in Colorado. But they’re fooling no one. Like the battle to get the U.S. Senate to pass even a watered-down version of a background checks proposal, the recall vote was a test of will between the NRA and the anti-gun movement and the former won hands down. Though terrible events like Newtown shock the nation and polls show majorities back some regulatory measures, the notion that support for Second Amendment rights has waned is simply untrue.

While the power shift in the Colorado legislature isn’t enough to force a repeal of the bills Morse helped force down the legislature’s throat last winter, the symbolic value of the defeat suffered by anti-gun groups will resonate throughout the country.

That’s something liberals, especially those in the media who embraced this issue wholeheartedly last winter, are finding it hard to accept. Though the president has since moved onto other disasters—a spring of scandals and the Syria debacle—his failure on gun legislation represents a fundamental misreading of America’s political culture on the part of most liberals. They assumed that grief over Newtown had changed public opinion about guns. That perception was reinforced by the NRA’s initial ham-handed response to the incident and the newly reelected president’s decision to ruthlessly exploit Sandy Hook and the families of the victims in order to pressure Congress to give him what he wanted.

But no matter how often he waved the bloody shirt of Newtown in order to shame members of the House and Senate into passing laws that would have done nothing to avert that massacre, there was no real appetite in either chamber for his proposals.

While the NRA took its lumps in the months after Newtown, the group actually experienced a surge in membership and support that more than compensated for the drubbing they got in the mainstream press. Though liberals, including the president, falsely asserted that NRA support was merely the function of donations from gun manufacturers, it remained something that the anti-gun groups were not: a genuine grass-roots organization that could generate intense activity from its members when they were called upon.

That’s why the Colorado votes were so important. They showed that even when outgunned by outside money, gun-rights advocates have an ace in the hole that Bloomberg can’t match: passionate supporters on the ground who can turn out and vote.

I doubt we’ve heard the last of Obama and his liberal supporters on this issue. They will return to it, as they always do, anytime a crime that can generate unthinking outrage about guns is committed. But media hype is never a match for a public determined not be stripped of their constitutional rights. The anti-gun tide that was supposed to sweep away the NRA has instead swept away two Democrats. Don’t bet that they will be the last to lose their seats because they believed Obama when he said the NRA was whipped.

Read Less

The Myth of Big Money and Gun Control

One of the chief talking points of liberals who have denounced National Rifle Association’s stand against President Obama’s efforts to pass more gun control laws has been to claim that the opposition has been mainly a function of the malign influence of money on politics. Their argument is to assert that the NRA’s influence is more a function of the large contributions gun manufacturers lavish on the group rather than the donations and the political fervor of its members. Following this playbook, the liberal mainstream media has consistently portrayed the efforts of those seeking to increase the regulation of gun ownership as the poor David fighting the wealthy NRA Goliath. Much of this narrative was undermined by the intervention in the debate by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has invested many millions in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group whose purpose it is to combat the NRA in local political races. But a story in yesterday’s New York Times illustrates how much of a myth is the notion that gun rights advocates are a function of big business while their opponents are the expression of a grass roots movement.

The piece depicts the struggle to recall two Democratic members of the Colorado legislature that voted for what the paper called “some of the strictest gun control measures in the country” passed last year. State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron are portrayed as writing a new chapter in the annals of courage for standing up to the NRA as anger over their decision has fueled a push to evict them from office that both sides in this political battle see as sending a message to politicians who might vote for gun legislation. But the narrative of victimization for the pair is undermined by two key paragraphs that are buried at the bottom of the story:

Ms. Giron has support from powerful Democrats — including Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who has campaigned for her — and there is a political action committee supporting her. The PAC has hired a staff member from President Obama’s re-election campaign, Chris Shallow, who handled field operations in North Carolina for the Obama campaign.

Ms. Giron and Mr. Morse are raising and spending far more than their opponents. Ms. Giron’s supporters have raised more than $87,000 and Mr. Morse’s more than $153,000, according to campaign disclosures. Each campaign has received thousands from progressive groups in Colorado and $35,000 apiece from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington group that supports liberal and environmental causes, and $3,500 each from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In other words, big moneyed interests are fighting the battle over guns–but the side with deep pockets isn’t the one attempting to uphold the Second Amendment.

Read More

One of the chief talking points of liberals who have denounced National Rifle Association’s stand against President Obama’s efforts to pass more gun control laws has been to claim that the opposition has been mainly a function of the malign influence of money on politics. Their argument is to assert that the NRA’s influence is more a function of the large contributions gun manufacturers lavish on the group rather than the donations and the political fervor of its members. Following this playbook, the liberal mainstream media has consistently portrayed the efforts of those seeking to increase the regulation of gun ownership as the poor David fighting the wealthy NRA Goliath. Much of this narrative was undermined by the intervention in the debate by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has invested many millions in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group whose purpose it is to combat the NRA in local political races. But a story in yesterday’s New York Times illustrates how much of a myth is the notion that gun rights advocates are a function of big business while their opponents are the expression of a grass roots movement.

The piece depicts the struggle to recall two Democratic members of the Colorado legislature that voted for what the paper called “some of the strictest gun control measures in the country” passed last year. State Senators John Morse and Angela Giron are portrayed as writing a new chapter in the annals of courage for standing up to the NRA as anger over their decision has fueled a push to evict them from office that both sides in this political battle see as sending a message to politicians who might vote for gun legislation. But the narrative of victimization for the pair is undermined by two key paragraphs that are buried at the bottom of the story:

Ms. Giron has support from powerful Democrats — including Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who has campaigned for her — and there is a political action committee supporting her. The PAC has hired a staff member from President Obama’s re-election campaign, Chris Shallow, who handled field operations in North Carolina for the Obama campaign.

Ms. Giron and Mr. Morse are raising and spending far more than their opponents. Ms. Giron’s supporters have raised more than $87,000 and Mr. Morse’s more than $153,000, according to campaign disclosures. Each campaign has received thousands from progressive groups in Colorado and $35,000 apiece from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a Washington group that supports liberal and environmental causes, and $3,500 each from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

In other words, big moneyed interests are fighting the battle over guns–but the side with deep pockets isn’t the one attempting to uphold the Second Amendment.

Far from illustrating how a small group is manipulating the debate about gun legislation in order to frustrate the liberal post-Newtown massacre push, what the Times has done is to remind us that the real struggle here is between big liberal money and small town activists who want to protect their rights:

In Colorado Springs, supporters of the recall set up a political action committee, the Basic Freedom Defense Fund, and started printing bumper stickers, hiring paid signature-gatherers and taking donations. They have collected $19,750 to date, including $250 in ammunition that was donated as door prizes for volunteers. The vast majority of contributions have come from donors around Colorado Springs … In Pueblo, Mr. Head took a hiatus from his job fixing water heaters, borrowed $4,000 from his grandmother and set to gathering the 11,000 signatures needed for a referendum on Ms. Giron.

There is a good argument to be made that the recalls are unnecessary and a waste of time and money no matter which side you are on. Morse is, after all, retiring next year and Giron was scheduled to face the voters again next year anyway. One can also claim that the measures the pair voted for—more background checks and limits on magazine size—are not unreasonable.

But the lesson here is not so much on the merits of the gun debate as it is on the falsity of the idea that the gun rights lobby is the 800-pound gorilla in the struggle. If anything, it is obvious that liberals are as much, if not more, capable of mobilizing financial resources to get their way on gun restrictions and far less dependent on grass roots activism than the pro-gun forces. No matter who wins in the recall votes scheduled for September, this campaign has undermined the liberal talking point about big money and guns. What it has also done is to show that efforts to impress upon legislators that they must listen to voters is one that works as much if not more to buttress the NRA’s position as it does that of Bloomberg.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.