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The Second Amendment Score

How America voted on guns

By Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute

11/08/00 8:30 a.m., National Review Online. More by Kopel on guns in the 2000 election.

Here's the score on Second Amendment rights in Tuesday's voting:

U.S. Senate: Four losses and three gains. So far, the net is -1. Washington and Michigan are still unresolved. A Republican loss in either Washington (Republican leading) or Michigan (Republican trailing) is a plain loss for the Second Amendment.

U.S. House: Two gains. Two losses. No change.

Arkansas: Republican Rep. Jay Dickey is trailing challenger Michael Ross, but the race had not been declared when this article was filed at 6 a.m. ET. Like Dickey, Ross is pro-Second Amendment, but Dickey's loss is still a practical loss of Second Amendment influence in Congress. Ross has not been known as an effective state legislator in Little Rock. We'll score this as no net change in terms of formal voting records.

California: In the 27th C.D. Rogan (C-rated by NRA) loses to Schiff (F-rated). Minus one for the Second Amendment.

Colorado: In the 6th C.D., which includes Columbine High School, Republican incumbent Tom Tancredo (B-rated by NRA) faced a very nasty, expensive, and heavily anti-gun challenge from Democrat Ken Toltz. Tancredo won by 12 points.

A misleading gun show "loophole" initiative passed with approximately 70%.

Connecticut: Anti-gun Rep. Sam Gjedenson (D) was ousted by a pro-gun Republican.

Delaware: Weakly anti-gun Sen. Roth (R) was unseated by anti-gun fanatic Gov. Tom Carper. This may be the biggest Congressional loss of the night for the Second Amendment, in terms of practical impact on Capitol Hill.

Florida: Retiring Connie Mack (R) was replaced by anti-gun insurance commissioner Bill Nelson (D). Silver lining: Republican Rep. Bill McCollum, who lost this open seat race, was a frequent sponsor of crime bills that infringed other parts of the Bill of Rights.

Ric Keller's (R) win in the 8th C.D. open seat was a big victory in an hot race where guns were a major issue and where Puerto Rican immigration was making the district more Democratic. No net gain for the Second Amendment, since Keller replaces Bill McCollum.

Georgia: As Governor, Democrat Zell Miller was extraordinarily helpful to the gun owner rights, providing major assistance for enactment of a statute to outlaw local anti-gun laws, and eagerly signing a ban on vexatious local government lawsuits against gun companies. Miller then stepped into the Senate vacancy created by the death of Republican Paul Coverdell. While Miller's Senate opponent, Mack Mattingly, was also pro-gun, Miller is more helpful to the pro-rights cause; as a Democrat, Miller is well positioned to encourage Georgia's other Senator, also a Democrat, to vote pro-rights. Moreover, the more pro-rights Democrats who are elected, the lesser the power of Republicans to take gun owners for granted.

Rep. Bob Barr's re-election, the most uncertain of any congressional race in Georgia, puts an extremely effective and energetic defender of the Second Amendment back into the House. Barr is also a leading champion of the rest of the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

Indiana: Pro-rights star John Hostettler (R) fended off a tough challenge in the traditionally combative 8th Congressional District. He will undoubtedly lead a crusade against the Clinton/Gore/Cuomo blackmail "agreement" with Smith & Wesson.

Kentucky: 6th C.D. Scottie Baesler ran hard on gun control, but lost by a wide margin to incumbent Ernie Fletcher.

Michigan As I file this article, Rep. Debbie Stabenow's (F-rated) challenge to incumbent Sen. Spence Abraham is unresolved.

The Lansing eighth C.D., vacated by Debbie Stabenow for her run at Abraham, was contested by candidates who each won an A from the NRA. As of early Wednesday morning, Democrat Byrum was leading. No matter who wins, the result is certain to be a pro-gun pickup.

Minnesota. Mark Dayton (D) unseated Rod Grams (R), despite Grams gaining some last-minute ground over Dayton's flip-flops on gun licensing.

In the second C.D., incumbent Rep. Minge (F-rated by NRA) was losing by about 1,000 votes to A-rated Republican Kennedy, with 97% of precincts reporting.

Missouri: Incumbent Sen. John Ashcroft was defeated by the late Mel Carnahan, who fails the constitutional requirement to be an "inhabitant" of the state from which we was elected.

In the Governor's race, Democrat Holden had a slight lead over Republican Talent, with the race still too close to call. Holden would continue in the line of the anti-Second Amendment former Gov. Carnahan.

Nebraska: Retiring Bob Kerrey (D) will be replaced by Governor Ben Nelson (D). Count this as an important pickup for pro-gun side. Along with Max Baucus (Montana) and Zell Miller (Georgia), Nelson will be the third very pro-Second Amendment Democratic Senator.

Nevada: John Ensign (R) won the Senate seat of retiring Harry Reid (D), who had been the lead sponsor of national gun registration legislation. A strong Second Amendment gain.

New Mexico: Albuquerque Republican Heather Wilson (A-rated by NRA) was returned to office by about 2,000 votes in a Democratic district.

New York: Clinton replaces Moynihan. The continued presence of Mrs. Clinton in the government will be the basis of millions of dollars of extra income for a wide variety of conservative direct mail fundraising groups.

Ohio: In the Columbus 12th C.D., vacated by (mostly) pro-gun John Kasich after his run for the Presidency, Republican Pat Tiberi prevailed in a hard-fought race.

Oregon: An initiative against gun shows was leading with about 60% of the vote.

Pennsylvania In western Pennsylvania, an open house seat was vacated by pro-gun Democrat Ron Klink so that he could run for Senate. The seat fell to pro-gun Republican Melissa Hart.

Utah: The Salt Lake City 2nd C.D. was captured by anti-gun Scott Matheson (D), who replaces Merrill Cook, an incumbent who lost in his party's primary.

Virginia: George Allen (R) unseated Chuck Robb (D). This race was closely watched by the D.C. political class, with lots of involvement by the NRA and by Handgun Control, Inc.

Over 60% of the electorate voted to create a state constitutional right to hunt, fish, and harvest game, subject to reasonable regulation by the legislature.

Washington: Pro-rights incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton (R) was ousted by former Rep Maria Cantwell (D) according to what the networks said, but they later recanted. The contest now awaits absentee results.

A final thought: It's not just the Greens who can legitimately claim to have influenced the result in the extraordinarily close Presidential election. With Florida in the balance by much less than 1%, the Reform party, the Libertarians, and even the Natural Law party can legitimately suggest that they changed the election. If only Gore or Bush had realized the importance of appealing to the meditation vote.  


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