June 09, 2009

Gun Rights Groups Expand Their Target

An article posted on CQ Today Online News details the upcoming agenda of Second Amendment lobbyist groups. Among their plans, both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America have expressed intentions to "weigh in on Obama's nomination of federal appellate court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court":

As the Senate’s consideration of Sotomayor’s nomination approaches, the NRA staff is scouring her record, [Chris] Cox [executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action] said. They are paying close attention to Maloney v. Cuomo, in which a three-judge panel on which she served unanimously rejected a man’s claim that a New York ban on nunchakus, a martial arts weapon, violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The opinion stated that the amendment applies only to limitations sought by the federal government, not to those imposed by state or local governments.

Cox said “it has yet to be determined” if the NRA will use the Senate vote on Sotomayor’s confirmation as part of its rankings for senators.

Gun Owners of America, whose membership of roughly 300,000 is dwarfed by the NRA’s 4 million members, takes a much harder line on Sotomayor.

The group’s president, Larry Pratt, said a vote to confirm her would cancel out any previous pro-gun-rights votes cast by congressional lawmakers.

“She’s very hostile to the Second Amendment,” he said. “A vote for her says you don’t really support the Second Amendment. . . . It nullifies all we have achieved and hope to achieve.”

In the past, gun rights advocates have focused their fire on Congressmen and state legislators. Of course that was prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the D.C. v. Heller case of 2008, which transferred the Second Amendment battle from the legislative to the judicial branch. Thus far, both groups have been hesitant to adapt their strategies to address these changed circumstances, but this report suggests that they are slowly coming to terms with the new reality that, as Mr. Pratt states, threatens to overturn everything they have achieved.

Moreover, if the gun lobby puts enough pressure on senators to vote against Sotomayor on the basis of her demonstrable antagonism toward Second Amendment rights, they will severely jeopardize her chances of appointment. No red or purple state Democrat can afford to attract the fury of gun rights proponents and still manage to win reelection, and don’t expect any of them to sacrifice their jobs for a vote on a Supreme Court nominee.

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