by Blaine Smith, Associate Editor
We all know that a person’s beliefs in certain ideals and principles can come to define that person in the eyes of others, and often, it is how an individual comes to regard himself.
Yet as much as each individual fancies himself unyielding, moments of crisis or conflict will invariably find some casting aside their values for expediency’s sake. The speed with which some people will disavow a cherished philosophy would startle Judas.
We’ve all heard that there are no atheists in foxholes. Were New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to have his way, there would be no Second Amendment supporters in Congress.
Bloomberg, through his group Mayors Against Illegal Guns, began targeting U.S. senators who voted against the Charles Schumer-Joe Manchin-Pat Toomey compromise background check proposal by coordinating protests at their campaign offices and funding attack ads. In April, the proposal garnered only 56 of the 60 votes needed to pass. It is expected that minor tweaks will be made to the compromise background check language and that it will be reintroduced for another vote.
By targeting senators who opposed the amendment—especially Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada, and Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska and Max Baucus of Montana—Bloomberg hopes to intimidate, threaten and pressure them into rethinking their support of the Second Amendment.
Yet pro-Second Amendment senators have proven that when the pressure mounts, as it has in this post-Newtown Congress, their vote isn’t given up freely to whatever side is most popular or politically expedient.
“North Dakota continues to have one [of] the highest rates of gun ownership and lowest incidences of gun crime in the country,” Sen. Heitkamp said in response to Bloomberg’s attacks. “I do not need someone from New York City to tell me how to handle crime in our state.”
“Mayor Bloomberg can spend millions trying to get me to support his view of background checks,” Sen. Flake wrote on his Facebook page. “That’s his call. But we Arizonans aren’t easily bullied.”
Despite Bloomberg’s pressure tactics, these senators have held firm to their core beliefs, which include a belief in the innate importance of the right to keep and bear arms—and for this, the NRA offers its sincere thanks and unyielding support.
It is important that all of the senators who stood on the side of freedom and voted for freedom in April immediately hear from NRA members as well. Please contact them right away to thank them for rejecting the anti-gunners’ agenda, and ask them not to waver when they are asked to vote again. Tell them how important it is to you and to our country’s future that they hold the line against this attack. Then, contact those senators who voted in favor of restricting our gun rights and tell them they were wrong to do so, and that their actions will be remembered when they come up for re-election.
For a man as flush with cash as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long allowed money to speak for him, it would be easy to view each of life’s interactions as a transaction. If one has found that adding enough zeros will inevitably lead to getting one’s way, it follows that one could eventually replace reasoned debate, thoughtful consideration, humility and, above all, principle, with a need for absolute power that, when threatened, demands vengeance precipitated by wheelbarrows of money.
In recent years, as Bloomberg has become the face of America’s anti-gun movement, it has probably come as a shock to him that even though his name and money have accompanied anti-gun proposals throughout the nation, the Second Amendment hasn’t been chased out of existence by now.
Newtown, no doubt, seemed to Bloomberg, as well as President Barack Obama and the rest of the anti-gun crusaders, to be the moment that would make gun ownership unpopular, and, in turn, illegal. And though various gun control proposals made it much further in Congress than in recent years past, Bloomberg and other anti-gun leaders saw their best hope for passing comprehensive gun control legislation go down after a single fight.
To a man like Bloomberg, the only reaction is to attack; and the way Bloomberg attacks is by spending hand over fist to disseminate false information about his opponents.
For instance, Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns reportedly spent $650,000 to release an ad attacking Sen. Ayotte for voting against the Schumer-Manchin-Toomey background check compromise. The ad characterized the legislation thusly: “… a conservative, pro-gun Democrat and a Republican come out with a tough-on-crime background check bill that keeps guns away from criminals while protecting the Second Amendment,” then criticized Ayotte for voting against the bill.
However, Manchin himself admitted his bill would do nothing to stop a future Newtown or Aurora attack, as did anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein. In fact, 46 senators believed the compromise background check bill would do nothing to stop violent crime—but would violate the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding American gun owners—and voted against it.
That doesn’t sound like a simple “tough-on-crime” bill that protects the Second Amendment, but rather a snow job by Bloomberg and maig. Yet that’s how our anti-gun opponents operate, and many times only the nra is there to stand up for those who are being attacked for standing up for the Second Amendment.
“Those groups and their leaders should realize that pro-Second Amendment senators stood with us,” Chris w. Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said in response to these attacks on pro-gun senators, “so we will stand with them, just as we have always stood with those who support the Second Amendment.”
In response to Bloomberg’s attack ad against Sen. Ayotte, the NRA released its own ad telling viewers, “Don’t believe it [Bloomberg’s ad]” and telling the truth about how Ayotte voted “for a bi-partisan plan making background checks more effective”; “voted for a bi-partisan plan to reform our broken mental health system”; and “voted for more resources to prosecute criminals who use guns.”
And that’s why the NRA is taking this opportunity to thank those senators who have weathered the accusations and lies of Bloomberg, MAIG and others in the movement to destroy the Second Amendment rights of Americans, and why we’re encouraging members to do the same.
The truth is, attacks in Congress against the Second Amendment are a way of life; a threat that we will never have the luxury of ignoring or truly doing away with. And just as the NRA relies on our pro-gun friends in the legislature to stand up for the rights of gun owners, pro-gun legislators rely on the NRA and our membership to give them the support they need to continue to champion the cause of gun owners whenever threats in Congress loom.
The Obama administration spent its first four years quietly amassing the tools and power it would need to unleash a firestorm against the Second Amendment come 2013. And though we’ve won the first round, gun owners need both the NRA and our friends in Congress to keep up the fight against a determined enemy that wants nothing more than to erase the Second Amendment from the Constitution and remove every gun from the hands of every law-abiding American gun owner.
To stop this, every law-abiding gun owner must support our friends in Congress by supporting the NRA.
The NRA would like to thank the senators listed below who voted to uphold the Second Amendment by voting against the Schumer-Manchin-Toomey compromise background check amendment. All NRA members are encouraged to contact these senators to express their gratitude for protecting our right to keep and bear arms.
You can find contact information for your senators by using the “Write Your Reps” feature at www.nraila.org, or you can reach your senator by phone at (202) 224-3121.
Lamar Alexander, R-TN
Kelly Ayotte, R-NH
John Barrasso, R-WY
Max Baucus, D-MT
Mark Begich, D-AK
Roy Blunt, R-MO
John Boozman, R-AR
Richard Burr, R-NC
Saxby Chambliss, R-GA
Daniel Coats, R-IN
Tom Coburn, R-OK
Thad Cochran, R-MS
Bob Corker, R-TN
John Cornyn, R-TX
Mike Crapo, R-ID
Ted Cruz, R-TX
Michael Enzi, R-WY
Deb Fischer, R-NE
Jeff Flake, R-AZ
Lindsey Graham, R-SC
Chuck Grassley, R-IA
Orrin Hatch, R-UT
Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND
Dean Heller, R-NV
John Hoeven, R-ND
James Inhofe, R-OK
Johnny Isakson, R-GA
Mike Johanns, R-NE
Ron Johnson, R-WI
Mike Lee, R-UT
Mitch McConnell, R-KY
Jerry Moran, R-KS
Lisa Murkowski, R-AK
Rand Paul, R-KY
Rob Portman, R-OH
Mark Pryor, D-AR
James Risch, R-ID
Pat Roberts, R-KS
Marco Rubio, R-FL
Tim Scott, R-SC
Jeff Sessions, R-AL
Richard Shelby, R-AL
John Thune, R-SD
David Vitter, R-LA
Roger Wicker, R-MS
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