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President's Column

By David A. Keene, President

Election Warnings Equal Today’s Reality

Gun stores did a brisk business the day after the November elections as customers rushed to buy new guns and stock up on ammunition out of fear that Barack Obama would, in his second term, target the private ownership of firearms for extinction.

Prior to Election Day, the president tried to play down his lifelong hostility to the Second Amendment and his partisans argued that America’s sportsmen and those who owned or carried guns to protect their families and homes had “nothing to worry about.” Some of his more slavishly devoted followers, like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, argued that the NRA was simply paranoid in believing that Obama posed any sort of threat to Second Amendment rights.

But President Obama was an anti-gun activist long before he ever ran for office. Our pre-election warnings that if given a second term, he would launch a war on our Second Amendment rights were proven correct within hours of his re-election. He would have gone after the Second Amendment during his first term had he had the congressional support to succeed, but was afraid of the political cost he would pay if he attacked gun rights before an election.

This is why Obama said whenever the topic was breached that he is a “Second Amendment supporter” who simply wants a “national conversation” on “common sense” restrictions reasonable men and women of all persuasions might support. That, of course, is the exact same thing we hear from New York’s Michael Bloomberg and other long-time gun ban advocates.

The question is what President Obama and his friends see as “common sense” restrictions consistent with the Second Amendment. Well, in his town hall debate with Mitt Romney he said he wants a renewed and expanded version of the Clinton-era “assault weapons” ban and hinted at restrictions on handguns. Obama has said from the beginning that he doesn’t believe anyone should have a “right” to own firearms in this country, supported a national firearm “registry” and voiced support for federal legislation that would ban concealed carry nationwide.

It didn’t take the newly re-elected president more than a few hours to notify his friends at the United Nations that he really wants an opportunity to sign a “Small Arms Trade Treaty,” while his spokesman said that such a treaty would not impinge on our Second Amendment rights. The problem with this is that we already know that we have a president whose entire career makes clear his belief that Americans under the Second Amendment have no individual right to own firearms.

So gun owners and Second Amendment supporters are in for some rough times. The American people have re-elected a president who has us in his sights and can be expected to come after us on multiple fronts. We have to be prepared to fight him on each front, rally friendly elected officials, persuade those in the middle and let all of them know that gun owners will not stand idly by as our constitutional rights are stripped from us.

We’ve faced serious challenges in the past and have prevailed against great odds. We are stronger now than ever before and far more united than we were at any time in the past. More Americans today own firearms than at any time in this nation’s history and we will work to ensure that they will step up to the plate when needed to defend their Second Amendment rights.

NRA members and many other gun owners entered the voting booth on November 6 fully cognizant of the dangers that we would face if President Obama was re-elected, but millions more weren’t convinced that the threat was real and, as a result, the presidential contest didn’t turn on the Second Amendment.

Fortunately, we were able to focus voters on gun rights in many congressional races and thus helped maintain a firewall to stop purely legislative assaults on our rights. That will help, but we’re going to have to fight the administration in the courts and in the media until 2014, when we can take out the anti-gun members of the House and Senate who between now and then will be forced to show their true colors. They, like the president, are going to learn that taking on the millions of Americans who support the Second Amendment and the values gun ownership represents will inevitably fail and lead to the forced retirement of those who dare to do so.

I know this for a certainty because I have witnessed what our members, friends and gun owners who look to us for leadership in these fights have accomplished in the past. During the fall campaign I spent time with NRA volunteers across the country who worked their hearts out to deny Obama a second term. Chris Cox reports elsewhere in this issue on what the NRA family accomplished this year. I know they will be joined by millions more as the threat we face crystallizes in the months ahead. As that happens, the president’s dream of an America without firearms will turn to dust.