For Release: Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Gun Lobby Sees Shift in Control of U.S. House as Devastating to its Agenda
NRA-Endorsed Candidates Lose in Key Senate Races
Washington, DC–In the wake of the Republican party losing control of the U.S. House and amidst key Senate losses, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has suffered its “biggest election disaster in nearly 15 years” according to the NRA’s own election materials. In its magazines and in member communications leading up to the 2006 midterm elections, the NRA repeatedly warned that its “pro-Second Amendment House of Representatives” was at stake. And in a direct-mail appeal sent out in July 2006, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund declared that “you and I could be headed for our biggest election disaster in nearly 15 years” if Democrats were to take control of one or both Houses of Congress.
In the wake of the NRA’s electoral defeat, Violence Policy Center Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “The gun lobby’s foot soldiers went AWOL in this election.”
The November 2006 pre-election “Choose or Lose” edition of the NRA’s “America’s 1st Freedom” magazine admonished members that, “Our recent victories and future legislative objectives are at risk this Election Day if gun owners don’t rally and go to the polls to support the true friends of the Second Amendment.” The magazine amounted to little more than a 64-page attack on Democrats, with a particular focus on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee head Charles Schumer (D-NY). In the publication, NRA President Sandra S. Froman warned, “We are at war. Our freedom is at stake. The Second Amendment is America’s original homeland security and you, my fellow NRA members, are at the heart of our national defense. But Pelosi and her fellow extremists, who are hoping to take control, oppose our national security efforts and oppose your Right to Keep and Bear Arms….Those who would seize power on Nov. 7 are unrelenting opponents of your values and beliefs….”
The gun lobby’s allegiance to Republicans shows in its political giving. In 2006, the NRA’s PAC gave 85 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates while Gun Owners of America gave 100 percent to Republicans. In addition, Republican activists Grover Norquist, David Keene, and Ollie North serve on the NRA’s board of directors in addition to current and former Republican Members of Congress.
Just one week before the November 7th election, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre summed up the urgency of the situation in an “exclusive” interview with the pro-gun publication “The New Gun Week.” Warned LaPierre, “Gunowners need to get to the polls because the battle lines are drawn….[W]e need to erect a barricade to protect the Second Amendment from the handgun control crowd….They want to unleash the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] on every law-abiding gunowner in America.”
In addition to the House turnover, NRA-backed Senate candidates also lost in key races including Rick Santorum (R-PA), Jim Talent (R-MO), Mike Bouchard (R-MI), and Michael Steele (R-MD). In the two Senate races still too close to call, the NRA backed Republicans George Allen in Virginia and Conrad Burns in Montana.