Why Gun Control will be a Political Loser for Republicans in November

GOA to Score the Rule on the Omnibus if Fix NICS is Included

March 16, 2018

Dear Representative:

On Tuesday, there was an election in one of the “bitter clinger” congressional districts. Pennsylvania has the largest concentration of gun ownership of any large state in the county, and many of them are in the southwest corner of the state.

It shouldn’t have even been close.

And, yet, the Democrat ran, probably insincerely, as a “pro-gunner.”

And the Republicans’ message at the national level during the preceding week? “Take the guns first, go through due process second.”

All of this occurred when either one of the above factors — had they been absent — could have made the difference in the election.

And then we learned later that a Republican PAC was telling Democrat voters that Connor Lamb was the candidate “supporting our Second Amendment rights [and] opposing gun restrictions.”

Why would a Republican PAC do this? Do Republicans not realize the power of the gun rights issue? Does the leadership not understand the power of supporting a cause that energizes single-issue, pro-gun voters in BOTH PARTIES?

Gun Rights motivates Single-Issue Voters to switch parties

Perhaps Republicans have forgotten that it was Bill Clinton who lamented multiple times that enacting gun control cost him control of the Congress in 1994 — because single-issue, pro-gun voters crossed party lines to vote Republican.

Or maybe Republicans have forgotten that it was Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman who learned the same lesson and lamented that gun control cost Al Gore the presidency in 2000. (See “Democrats sing new tune on gun control,” USA Today, August 13, 2001.)

Have Republicans considered that Donald Trump’s strong support of the Second Amendment in 2016 could single-handedly explain his pickup of enough pro-gun Democrats to win Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan — and thus, the election — especially given that polls repeatedly show the single-issue voters in the gun issue are overwhelmingly pro-gun?

Politico adroitly addressed this issue after the last election:

2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ran on the most explicitly pro-gun control platform since 2000, calculating that it would help her against Sanders in the primary and betting that Sandy Hook had changed the political equation for the general election. It did not.

Will Republicans become the Party that “finally delivered gun control”?

Many of the races in November will resemble the Lamb-Saccone race. And the Republican base will either turn out or it won’t.

But if Republicans don’t understand their big blunder in Pennsylvania, then they will continue to proceed ahead supporting gun control bills like Fix NICS — and will proceed to give the boot to pro-gun legislation like concealed carry reciprocity.

Supporting gun control will depress your base and suppress their desire to show up at the polls!

If you value keeping your base, then don’t be “the party that finally delivered on gun control” after eight years of failure by Obama to do so.

Please understand: A vote to include Fix NICS in the omnibus spending bill is a vote to kill concealed carry reciprocity, because you will have eliminated any possible leverage to get reciprocity passed.

GOA will score a vote on the rule for the omnibus if any part of the Fix NICS language is included in the bill.

Fix NICS in the Omnibus makes anti-gun amendments germane in the Senate

One last thing, and this is very important: If Fix NICS is on the omnibus, Fix NICS would open the door to dozens of additional gun control amendments on the omnibus in the other chamber, because of the nature of the Senate rules.

This would mean amendments offered by anti-gun Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and others. Without Fix NICS, of course, all of these amendments would be out of order under Rule XVI, and the issue of gun control would be taken off the table.

So think very carefully about whether you want to open the door to a gun control shootout next week in the Senate.

Again, please throw the Fix NICS language into the trash bin of history — and make sure it stays out of the omnibus.

In Liberty,

Erich Pratt
Executive Director