Gun owners knew that a Barack Obama second term would lead to an attack on Second Amendment rights. The president had promised as much to Sarah Brady and her anti-gun friends even before the election. Even knowing that Obama was an anti-Second Amendment activist before he ever ran for public office, NRA members were still chilled by this news.
True, during the campaign itself Obama had insisted time and again that he supported the Second Amendment and that, if re-elected, gun owners had little to fear because he would not “take your shotgun, rifle or handgun.” His friends in the media also assured voters that we had nothing to fear from a hidden Obama anti-gun agenda. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews went so far as to claim that NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre was “insane” for even suggesting that gun owners had anything to fear.
Then came the election and the horrific killings in Newtown. The Sandy Hook murders gave the president and his allies in Congress, the left-wing media and activists the political opportunity they had been waiting for. They could use this tragedy to stampede the public and Congress into allowing them to do what they have wanted to do all along: obliterate the Second Amendment rights that Americans have enjoyed since the days of our country’s founding. They immediately blamed the Sandy Hook murders not on a lack of security or a broken mental health care system or even on the crazed killer himself, but on guns, the NRA and law-abiding gun owners.
CBS’s Bob Schieffer even compared the anti-gunners’ fight to destroy the NRA with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. Others called for the government to label the NRA and its members as “terrorists” and, as one writer put it, “hunt down NRA leaders.” Within days the NRA’s mailboxes were flooded with hate mail and death threats, making any rational discussion of how the nation might better protect the innocent almost impossible.
The president himself alluded to the NRA and the millions of Americans who own firearms and engage in the shooting sports as a “special interest” group standing in the way of his “common sense” proposals to build a more peaceful America by restricting firearm ownership.
It was a shameless attempt to cow us and to roll those in Congress who have consistently stood with us in protecting the Second Amendment. A freshman Democratic senator who dared suggest that the president was going too far was immediately the target of a barrage of ads in her home state trying to demonize and silence her for daring to disagree with the president.
What the president and his allies didn’t count on was your deep belief in freedom and the Constitution, the tenacity of those of us dedicated to preserving the rights handed down by the framers of our Constitution and the good common sense of most Americans who, according to more than one national poll, believe the best way to prevent future tragedies is to do what we’ve suggested from the beginning: Fix the mental health system and provide security for our kids rather than putting them at risk in a “gun-free” shooting preserve.
And they didn’t count on the basic common sense of the American people who, like gun owners, believe the way to respond to Sandy Hook and the other mass murders we have experienced is to fix the broken mental health care system, adopt realistic measures to prevent the potentially violently mentally ill from getting their hands on guns, prosecute criminals who use guns to prey on their fellow citizens and guarantee the safety of our children by providing security while they attend school.
We are awake now. There are millions of us and we will not be cowed. The struggle to preserve our rights will get ugly, and there will be additional attempts to demonize us, divide us and limit the rights of gun owners who have never done anything wrong.
Millions of Second Amendment supporters are rallying, speaking up and letting their elected representatives know just how they feel. The collapse of the $80 million Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., over its organizers’ refusal to allow exhibition of semi-auto rifles that are under legislative attack, the tens of thousands of new members joining the NRA and the continuing flood of calls to Congress are making it very clear that we will Stand and Fight when our rights are threatened. If we don’t let up, we will prevail.