Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

It's all about the NRA at election time?

This post has been updated since first posted.

Should the NRA, who purportedly has about 4 million members, give or take, have a large role in our elections? My readers know my answer. I have written many times about this before. We all know that Mitt Romney, not a gun guy himself, tried to fashion himself as one to get the NRA endorsement:
"The NRA’s support of Romney is somewhat controversial in that Romney once favored a toughening of some gun laws. In 2004, while governor of Massachusetts, he signed off on a permanent assault weapons ban for the state.
“These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense,” Romney said at a July 1, 2004 signing ceremony, according to non-profit group Media Matters, which posted a copy of a state press release on its website.
“They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people,” Romney said.
Romney’s 2012 political platform, however, states that “Mitt does not believe that the United States needs additional laws that restrict the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”"
Just another issue on which he has taken almost every position possible. Excuse me, I digress.But really, folks, some candidates get themselves all twisted into knots about whether one has been endorsed by the organization or not. Such is the case in a local election in my neck of the woods. One candidate is claiming that another is using the endorsement of the NRA and shouldn't be. It is even going to a judge to determine if the endorsement can be used. From the article:
Jason Metsa has won the latest round in a dispute over credentials in the Minnesota House District 6B race. A three-judge state panel now will rule on whether his opponent willfully lied during the campaign this fall.
Metsa, a Democrat, insists that his Republican opponent, Jesse Colangelo, is falsely touting an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
Metsa sent his complaint to the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings and a judge last week ruled that the case had merit and should be sent on to a panel of three administrative law judges. The deadline to file any more testimony in the case was Wednesday. No date for the panel decision has been announced.
Colangelo received an endorsement for his Republican primary battle this summer but it doesn’t carry over to the general election, the NRA reported.
The NRA said both candidates are considered “pro-gun” but neither qualify for official endorsement.
I know this is the most important issue on the minds of voters! Really folks. Get a grip. Sure, Northern Minnesota is full of hunters. But hunters are not necessarily NRA members. And let's remember that even NRA members and hunters support reasonable gun laws when asked:
It seems obvious to many that advocating for regulating the sale, ownership, and use of guns is a political loser. Indeed, there is a wealth of polling data suggesting Americans oppose “gun control” and favor “gun rights.” However, new research obtained by ThinkProgress indicates that this opposition exists only in the abstract. According to a poll conducted in May by Republican pollster Frank Luntz for the group Mayors against Illegal Guns, gun-owning Americans, including National Rifle Association (NRA) members, overwhelmingly support a raft of common-sense measures typically described as “gun control:” 
Whatever. The NRA does not. The NRA is an extremist organization. Take a look at Meet The NRA and read about the board members and those who run the organization. If only the candidates would check this out. It would give them plenty of fodder for election chatter and allow them to challenge the mythical influence of the NRA. Then, perhaps they could actually talk about ways to reduce and prevent the daily carnage happening as a result of our nation's loose gun laws. We all know what this is all about? It's all about thinking, falsely, that an NRA endorsement matters in the election. It doesn't but some elected leaders and candidates have not yet figured out that they don't need the NRA.

The NRA endorsement matters much less than some candidates believe. A blogger friend, Nasty Jack, has written a lot about the false assertion that candidates need the NRA endorsement in order to be elected. Read more here. From his blog post:
“Republicans won the House in 1994,” Congressional scholar Gary Jacobson  wrote, “because an unusually large number of districts voted locally as they had been voting nationally,” or, they voted for Congress as they had for president.  It was highly partisan politics where some Democrats suddenly found themselves in trouble in GOP-leaning districts.  It probably had nothing to do with gun legislation, more likely to have been affected by Clinton’s health care reform.
NRA head, wacky Wayne LaPierre even said in speaking to the group’s annual convention in 2002, “You are why Al Gore isn’t in the White House.”  Many experts say, if Ralph Nader hadn’t run, Al Gore would no doubt have won.  And when Waldman looked for evidence that Gore’s stance on gun control cost him decisive votes, he found none.  He even carried states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa on the issue.
Waldman reiterates: “the National Rifle Association didn’t win Congress for the GOP in 1994, and it didn’t deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.”  He also comments on a common theme that seems to surface during the analysis, “what the NRA claims credit for usually turns out upon closer examination to be nothing more than elections in which Republicans do well.”  Two glaring examples, Pres. Obama’s and Pres. Clinton’s election wins.
Get a grip everyone. This election is not about guns. If it is, it should be about how to stop the shootings. That just is not happening, much to my frustration. But to make a big issue about an NRA endorsement is a fool's errand. So, candidates, just speak common sense about the issue and the voters will support you. Really. And lives depend upon getting this one right. Until candidates get this one right and realize that the voters are way ahead of them on this issue, we will continue to see our political leaders and candidates for office running away from the gun issue and running towards the extremist NRA for support. We are better than this.


Today I had a great discussion with some volunteers ar the Obama office in Duluth. The topic of the extreme nature of the Republican party came up. It turned to the NRA and I wasn't even in the midst of it as I was doing something else at the time. One of the men said he had received a call from the NRA the other day. The person on the line proclaimed to him that if President Obama is elected, he is going to take his guns away. The man replied that the caller was too late. They had come for his guns 20 minutes ago. That is how stupid that statement is but too many people believe in the lie. Pity them.

This article should have been included in my post. Think Progress wrote a series of articles about the myth of the NRA. This one is from part II:
The NRA endorsement, however, is seldom examined in anything resembling a systematic way. When we do so, we find that like the alleged power of the NRA’s money, the power of the NRA’s endorsement is largely a myth. There are some kinds of races where the endorsement might make a small difference, but these are only a tiny fraction of all the endorsements the group makes.
There are a few critical things to understand about NRA endorsements. First, they are overwhelmingly given to Republicans, as one might expect. But just as important, they are overwhelmingly given to incumbents. Over the last four elections, 86 percent of NRA House endorsements went to incumbents. In fact, not a single Democratic challenger won the group’s endorsement (though some certainly tried). And if you’re a Republican incumbent, the endorsement is almost guaranteed: 90 percent of GOP House incumbents got the endorsement in 2004, 91 percent in 2006, 96 percent in 2008, and 97 percent in 2010.
You can check out the great graphs showing these numbers. And more, from the article:
So contrary to what one might expect, the NRA endorsement isn’t delivered as a saving grace to a candidate struggling in a tough race. Instead, the typical NRA endorsee is a Republican incumbent from a strongly conservative district strolling to an easy victory. Over these four elections, 82 percent of NRA endorsees won their races by 10 points or more, and 62 percent won their races by 20 points or more. In other words, the NRA endorsement is mostly a reward for past service. In fact, in these four elections, the NRA endorsed a total of 106 House candidates who ran unopposed, and even donated money to 96 candidates with no opponent. (...) 
So nearly every NRA endorsee gets nothing from the organization’s nod. There is, however, one group that gets a small boost: Republican challengers who get endorsed when they run against Democratic incumbents do about 2 percentage points better than similar candidates who don’t get the endorsement.
That may mean that in certain cases at certain times, an NRA endorsement can help a little (and one can be certain that since the organization endorses few challengers, it picks those candidates carefully, looking for ones it thinks have a good shot at winning). But those races form a tiny portion of their endorsements: only 5 percent of the NRA’s endorsements go to Republican challengers. In other words, in all but a tiny number of races, the NRA endorsement is essentially meaningless.
There is more and the other parts of the series are also worth reading.


I just had a conversation with a friend while I was exercising. We were talking about the role of the NRA in elections. She told me that they have received 8 calls from the NRA in the last 3 days. They answered one of them and said they were not interested. But the NRA is nothing if not persistent. They keep calling. We discussed how their name got on the calling list given that neither she or her husband have ever been NRA members. Her husband is a deer hunter. Does the NRA purchase the names of all hunters, assuming they will be friendly to their cause? Her husband once got a subscription to an outdoors hunting magazine from a relative. One can assume that the NRA buys those names, assuming that everyone who reads about and enjoys the outdoors will support their agenda. Further, do they count these folks as part of their alleged 4 million members? Who knows? This woman, on my advise, intends to answer the next call, which will surely come, and tell the NRA to quit harassing their house with phone calls they don't want. Though her husband is a hunter, he wants nothing to do with the NRA's extreme agenda.


  1. In recent years, it has become a chant to say that people support "the Second Amendment Right", by which they mean gun ownership instead of a Swiss Style Military. That is a completely nebulous concept of the Second Amendment, but something which has become custom in US Politics.

    The NRA probably isn't as powerful as it would like to feel it is. We see it played out as the hard liners come here and scream that they have a "right" to the most powerful weapons without any regulation.

    The Issue of gun violence isn't one where there is a pro- or anti-, but a sane and insane. Can the US continue to tolerate the carnage?

    The Heller-McDonald decision with its pronouncement that gun regulation and registration do not violate the Second Amendment and the choice of Mitt Romney demonstrate to me that the right may not be as insane as it appears.

    Of course, the right wing will use this issue to get people to vote against their interest. Thus, they will pay lip service to the "Gun Rights" crowd.

    Of course, there are many more reasons why voting for people who use wedge issues is wrong in my mind, which plants me firmly on the "liberal" end of the spectrum as far as the insane right goes.

  2. Every single poll I've ever seen that asked citizens, gun owners, or NRA members, ALWAYS have numbers up in the 70-90% range for support of tighter restrictions, such as mandatory background checks for all citizens, requiring safe storage of guns in homes with kids, requiring hands-on proficiency training for permits, etc etc.

    It flies in the face of the NRA agenda. Just yesterday I saw a quote from Wayne LaPierre where he stated that no one wants stronger gun regulation and want politicians to stay out of the issue, but of course he has no evidence for these claims and completely ignores the scores of polls that state the opposite. He also stated, quite bluntly, that he opposed any debate on gun issues.

    Why do gun owners continue to follow the NRA when the NRA and its leadership clearly do not represent them? Why do politicians care at all about the NRA's extremist stances, in light of these polls?

    The reason for both of these questions: money. Gun manufacturers pay the NRA a huge sum, tens of millions of dollars (at least), to represent their dangerous agenda. The NRA then turns over that money to their politicians. This isn't what is best for the American people or their safety. It's corruption, plain and simple.

  3. We deserve the same level of consideration as any other PAC or civil rights group that has the ear of the legislature. As to them not representing me, sorry you don't speak for what i want and i find these polls of supposed NRA members to be suspicious- members know the position of the board and there are other groups like Americans for gun safety, who dont fully agree with us- if the "membership " doesn't agree, they should or would spend their advocacy dollars there.

    You claim time and time again that the NRA has se power over the ruling elite that it doesn't. I live in an embarassingly blue state and we aren't gettimg help from the NRA in the fight to end discretionary licensing. People arent being scared into getting carry permits, theyre watching the very real stories of Kimberly cates, half and suzannah zantop and what happened to the wife and daughter of dr petit.

    We're getting armed.not because Wayne Lapierre told us to. We're getting armed for one simple truth you cannot refute: when seconds count, the police are minutes away. At the end of the day yes there will be morons with guns, but the rest of us have the right to self preservation.

    1. The NRA has much more consideration than almost any other PAC/lobby group. Who said anything about the "ruling elite"? And who are the names you mentioned. No one said you didn't have the right to "self preservation" if you so choose. But if you so choose, then you had better be responsible with that gun. Many are not. You have missed something, most likely on purpose, with the polling which has been consistent with the numbers over many years and over many different polls. If they were wildly different, then you could be suspicious but they have consistently shown support for reasonable gun laws amongst gun owners and non gun owners alike.

    2. Japete,
      I found an interesting collection of polls regarding gun issues which do support some of your claims. However, it does list a Washington Post poll taken periodically from 1999 to 2012 asking, "Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws. The percentage of those favoring stricter laws went from 67 to 51% during that perios. The percentage opposed to stricter laws rose from 31 to 47%.
      The source of my data is here:

    3. Yes, Mark. That one has been reviewed many times on this blog as have the stuff about polling. One time- and one time only since I have gone over this many times before- When people are asked specific questions such as about background checks, assault weapons ban, terror gap, they are likely to respond positively and do in every poll.