Stronger outlook for gun rights in 2011
by Dave Workman
Following an election that divided Congress with pro-gun Republicans running the House of Representatives, and state-level elections that tilted more legislatures and governorships to the GOP, the outlook for gun rights across much of America is considerably improved for 2011.
Add to that the weight of last June’s Supreme Court ruling in the Second Amendment Foundation’s (SAF) McDonald v. City of Chicago case, and there is a new political landscape as state legislatures and a new Congress open for business this month.
Joe Waldron, legislative director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), told Gun Week that the shift of state legislatures to Republican control “will have a major impact on redistricting, which occurs in 2011.”
“Somewhere down the road,” he emphasized, “that will have an impact on the gun rights issue.”
Waldron, who spent years as CCRKBA’s executive director and as a lobbyist for the Gun Owners’ Action League in Washington state, said Republicans picked up “about 600 seats nationwide” in state legislatures. That was a significant gain along with the takeover of the US House and the end of liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reign.
Waldron is paying particular attention to Wisconsin, where Republican Scott Walker has replaced anti-gun Democrat Jim Doyle, who twice vetoed concealed carry legislation and barely survived override. With a Republican-controlled legislature and a new governor, the state may become No. 49 with a concealed carry law this year.
There may be more pro-gun legislation in Florida, where conservative Marco Rubio moves into the governor’s office. Waldron will be in Tallahassee sometime during the upcoming session. Pennsylvania also has a new Republican governor which will be important to redistricting.
Republicans now control legislatures in Alabama, New Hampshire and North Carolina, as well, and they picked up the House in Ohio and Iowa, and the Senate in Minnesota and New York.
This may bode well for Republicans in the 2012 elections, but time will tell if it spells trouble for Barack Obama’s re-election hopes, and whether the US Senate may tilt to Republicans as well. Many pundits suggest that the November mid-term elections, and the gains made by Republicans, reflect a national referendum on Obama’s policies. On the other hand, the results of that election saw the Democrat caucus go farther left as many moderates were sent home by voters.
While there is no denying that many of the Democrats who were displaced Nov. 2 were moderates who support gun rights, the key is that with Republicans now in control, they will hold committee chairmanships, and they will determine what legislation moves.
With the McDonald victory fresh on the minds of state lawmakers, gun rights activists will also see whether legislators take a more critical look at any gun legislation in terms of how it might measure up under the Second Amendment. The past six months have shown that SAF and the National Rifle Association are not timid about filing lawsuits against state laws that fail under a Second Amendment challenge. SAF, for example, is involved in a half-dozen lawsuits, all filed since the June 28 McDonald ruling.
With a majority of Republican governors29 in allpolitical observers will be keeping an eye on how the National Governor’s Conference approaches issues.
Political challenges to gun rights are hardly finished, but the outlook for holding the line and even regaining lost ground is better, at least in some states.
One thing appears certain. Voters sent a message to the president and Capitol Hill that Democrats under Obama and Pelosi could “keep the change.”
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