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Republican voters are a little more demanding than Democrats on this issue. They worry not only about stated positions but also about trustworthiness. Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee and John McCain have basically strong, consistent records. Though McCain supports some control measures, he’s done so pretty regularly. Rudy Giuliani and Mitt “I shot me some varmints” Romney, on the other hand, are coming off stints as Northeastern RINOs. They’re praying to a benevolent Judeo-Christian Deity that voters won’t hold their records against them.
Giuliani ran a city with a handgun permit system that bordered on a ban, and even today professes a sort-of federalist, ruralist interpretation of the Second Amendment. He’s said, “maybe you have one solution [in a big city] and in another place, more rural, more suburban, other issues, you have a different set of rules,” which would put him in roughly the same category as John Edwards and Michelle Obama. He has claimed to think D.C.’s outright ban is unconstitutional, but he’s never bothered to explain why it’s unconstitutional while the law he enforced is A-OK. Also, as mayor he sued the gun industry for legally distributing its products to government-licensed dealers.
As an olive branch to conservatives, Giuliani has promised to appoint “strict-constructionist” judges and stressed his respect for federalism. Conservatives have been skeptical on both fronts, reacting cooly to his NRA address and wincing at the notion that a fundamental constitutional right should depend on regional politics or population density.
As Massachusetts governor, Romney defended the state’s “tough gun laws.” He waited for his presidential campaign to join the NRA and discover that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. He claims the only gun law he would sign is an assault-weapon ban, and like Giuliani he professes strict-constructionism.
If Giuliani or Romney manages to escape hostile fire in the primaries, the nominee’s positions might prove attractive to some moderates. But he would have a much harder time than any of the basically pro-gun candidates in bringing home the normal pro-gun vote, if the Supreme Court strikes D.C.’s gun ban down, or harnessing the anger of tens of millions of Americans, if the Supremes narrowly decide to ignore the clear meaning of the Second Amendment.
THE GREAT WILD CARD in all this is the National Rifle Association. The Washington Times recently reported that the organization was considering breaking with tradition by making a primary-election endorsement. Head lobbyist Chris Cox cited the “front-loading” of the process — if neither party picks a true Second Amendment defender, there’ll be no one worthy of a general-election NRA endorsement. The organization doesn’t want to sit out the way it did in 1992 and 1996.
Even the NRA’s fiercest critics have to concede that its efforts — from grassroots activism to Capitol Hill lobbying — bring results. A recent Independence Institute study found that, in any election for a seat in the House of Representatives, an endorsement can increase a candidate’s share of the vote by 3 to 5 percent per 10,000 NRA members in that district.
If Giuliani and Romney’s gun records set them back a bit now, an NRA intervention could tip the balance in many close primary elections, especially if an announcement were made between Iowa and New Hampshire…
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?