NRA silence gave pass to ‘pro gun Democrats’ who voted for ‘nuclear option’

The so-called “nuclear option,” where the Senate voted to change filibuster rules on nominations, “was a vote to begin the process of effectively repealing the Second Amendment,” Gun Owners of America warned Monday in a member alert. And an analysis of that vote shows many Democrats given high ratings by the National Rifle Association helped to ram through what The Los Angeles Times has called “one of the most significant rule changes in Senate history” with no fear of political repercussions from the nation’s largest gun rights group.
“Harry Reid … did this for the ostensible purpose of packing the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals with three anti-gun judges — one of which (Robert Wilkins) has held that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect the right to purchase firearms, just the right to possess them,” GOA explained. “[B]efore the ink was dry on the tally sheet, Barack Obama commended the Senate and mourned the fact that filibusters had blocked his gun ban and gun registration scheme. What Obama is clearly calling for is for the same ‘nuclear option’ to be used to pass comprehensive gun control.”
GOA’s assessment is corroborated by The Times’ report, which focused on recently-elected Democrats being the driving force behind the filibuster rule change, and cited Connecticut Senator Christopher S. Murphy’s reasons for pushing it through.
“For Murphy, the failure of the Senate gun control bill earlier this year was the final straw,” the report explained. “He took on the issue of gun violence after the Newtown school shooting in his state in 2012. A bipartisan bill crafted by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) had 55 votes but failed to advance.”
“I was a proponent of filibuster reform coming into the Senate, but I became a revolutionary on this issue when we lost the gun bill,” Murphy was quoted.
But while Murphy is recognized by both NRA and GOA as a confirmed anti-gunner, a cadre of supposedly “pro-gun Democrats” putting party over principle cast the votes that enabled the radical change to pass.
Foremost, of course, is NRA’s “B”-rated Harry Reid, once described by NRA’s Wayne LaPierre as “a true champion of the Second Amendment.” That Reid, since wooed and supported by Michael Bloomberg, has since gone full Gillibrand is hardly surprising. Nor is his hypocritical reversal on filibusters now that his party is in power.
Last December, The Washington Post published a chart representing NRA and GOA grades for the Senate. Among NRA “A+”-rated Democrats, Max Baucus of Montana voted for the filibuster rule change. Among those given “A” grades, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, Tim Johnson of South Dakota and Mark Warner of Virginia all supported Obama’s and Reid’s move to eliminate an important confirmation hurdle for anti-gun nominees. Those given “AQ” rating (based solely on questionnaires because they did not have a legislative track record) who then voted for the change included Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Begich of Alaska. Jon Tester of Montana, who scored an “A-,” completed the list of NRA’s high-scoring Democrats who enabled the vote to succeed. Simply put, it would not have happened without them.
It’s a political reality that Democrats are needed to keep bad gun bills from passing and to help good gun bills get enacted. That said, there is no need to inflate grades or to withhold from voters the unvarnished realities of a given race. To do otherwise is a disservice, not to mention manipulative and dismissive of gun owners looking to NRA for reliable direction, so they can be fully informed, and can evaluate pros and cons for themselves.
NRA went to great lengths to convince voters that “Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in American history.” Every one of their “A”-rated Democrats supported Obama. The ones who were in office at the time (Baucus and Tester) supported confirmation of Eric Holder. They were allowed to do so without any impact on their rating. This has enabled the president’s anti-gun appointments, executive actions and unrivaled bully pulpit for the “legitimate news media” to get their marching orders and talking points from. And NRA still gives them an “A”?
This is hardly the first time the issue of politician grade reliability has been questioned. Some political observers have been documenting disconnects from reality for decades, with more examples reported throughout the years.
And now it looks like these Democrats will once again be allowed to escape any political repercussions for supporting a change that clearly poses great legal dangers for gun rights. As with Supreme Court nominations and Fast and Furious (until they could no longer remain silent), the confirmation of B. Todd Jones as permanent head of ATF, anti-gun pitfalls hidden in so-called “immigration reform,” “undetectable firearms” and other issues of import to gun owners, the most powerful “gun rights” organization is once more electing to withhold leadership and let others steer the debate.
“In an effort to cover their rear ends, Thursday’s rules change purports to exempt Supreme Court nominees from the 50-vote non-filibusterable procedure,” GOA acknowledges in its alert. “But one would have to be a fool to think that 52 Democrats who would blow up the Senate over an appeals court would not do the same if the balance on the Supreme Court were at stake.”
Assuming the NRA leadership is not comprised of fools, what other reason could there be for posting nothing on their ILA website about the “nuclear option” just exercised by Mr. LaPierre’s “true champion,” with no statement from the Association, and not even a link on their “In the News” page to such a significant and threatening development?