Sarah Palin Brings Firepower To General Election
by John Velleco
Director of Federal Affairs
Senator Barak Obama is arguably the most anti-gun major party presidential candidate in history. His running mate, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, is no better.
On the Republican side, Senator John McCain has a checkered history regarding the Second Amendment. He supported gun rights before actually becoming an anti-gun activist when he ran for president in 2000. More recently, McCain has seemingly taken a timeout on the gun issue altogether.
Gun owners have had very little to get excited about in this presidential election until Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stepped onto the stage as John McCain’s running mate.
Sarah Palin is a lifelong hunter and outdoors enthusiast. As Sen. Fred Thompson put it in his speech at the Republican National Convention, Gov. Palin “is the only nominee in the history of either party who knows how to properly field dress a moose — with the possible exception of Teddy Roosevelt.”
Although it is not uncommon for politicians to hide behind hunting in an attempt to win over gun owners — even former president Bill Clinton, who signed into law some of the most sweeping gun control measures in history, made a big deal over the fact that he hunted — Gov. Palin’s support of the Second Amendment is not first and foremost about hunting or sport shooting.
Under Gov. Palin’s administration, Alaska signed on to a multi-state amicus brief in support of the Second Amendment in the Supreme Court case regarding the Washington, D.C. gun ban. “We need to send a strong message that law-abiding citizens have a right to own firearms, for personal protection, for hunting and for any other lawful purpose,” she said in a statement.
The Court ruled, in D.C. v. Heller, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. Gov. Palin praised the Supreme Court decision as “a victory for… individual Americans.”
Palin campaigned on a pro-gun platform when she ran for mayor of the town of Wasilla. Palin defeated an entrenched incumbent, who grumbled that residents were unduly influenced by the gun issue. The Wasilla police chief complained that Palin fired him in 1997 because he opposed Alaska’s law recognizing the right of Alaskans to carry concealed firearms.
It seems you can take the mayor out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the mayor. Palin’s job in Wasilla has become more of a campaign issue than her more recent role as governor. Barak Obama compared Palin’s mayoral position to his own campaign operation.
“My understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month,” Sen. Obama said in an interview.
Interestingly, the same arguments about experience were leveled against Palin when she first ran for mayor of that small town, and again when she ran for governor. For her part, Gov. Palin embraces the small town, bitter-gun-clinger image. In her speech at the Republican convention, she responded to Obama by saying that, “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.”
Gun owners have much to fear if the Obama/Biden ticket makes it to the White House, and John McCain has gone back and forth on the gun issue so many times that it is hard to determine exactly where he stands.
Of the four candidates, only Sarah Palin has a record that is consistently supportive of the Second Amendment. Pro-gun voters have good reason to be excited about the selection of the vice-presidential candidate, but Sen. McCain has dug a deep hole for himself on the gun issue and he has yet to come out against any of the anti-gun positions he has taken in the past. That makes it all the more important for gun owners to know that Sarah Palin will advocate forcefully for the right to keep and bear arms, even if it goes against the President’s position.
If Joe Biden has an office in the West Wing, we can expect that he will use that position to launch attacks on the Second Amendment, and to be a cheerleader for the Obama gun control agenda. That much is certain. If Sarah Palin occupies that same office, gun owners may be looking to the tough Alaskan hockey mom to pull John McCain in the other direction.