THE NRA defeated the most anti-gun candidate in modern history
Gun owners now want concealed handgun permits honored in all 50 states, just like drivers licenses
THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION won in nearly every race where it invested money in the 2016 U.S. election. Donald Trump’s presidential victory delivered a number of wins for gun rights activists across the country.
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, said gun owners “dodged a bullet” by defeating Clinton and electing Trump. He said the gun rights movement’s focus will now be on ensuring a pro-gun agenda makes it into law.
“With the Republicans in charge of the House and Senate, we will be pushing for things Trump said he would support, such as national reciprocity, where concealed handgun permits will be honored in all 50 states, just like drivers licenses,” Van Cleave said.
The NRA spent more than $30.3 million in the presidential race, up from just over $12 million in 2012. Nearly $20 million went to opposing Hillary Clinton and $10.6 million went to supporting Donald Trump, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission documents by the Center for Responsive Politics. The group invested another $20 million in six Senate races and won five of them.
Clinton’s defeat came after she staked out the most aggressive gun control positions for a major party candidate in modern memory.
“She has been more forceful on guns than any other person who ever seriously ran for president,” one of Clinton’s advisers wrote in an email posted by WikiLeaks in October. “Certain members of the dem caucus were freaking out about her gun positions.”
Audio first published in October 2015 by the Washington Free Beacon showed Clinton telling donors privately that she believed the Supreme Court was “wrong on the Second Amendment.”
When asked about her opposition to the court’s landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision at the final presidential debate, Clinton claimed she was concerned about protecting toddlers from unsecured guns but did not reverse her position.
Just two weeks after audio of Clinton’s comments on the Supreme Court was published, she endorsed an Australian-style mandatory gun buyback scheme at a public rally.
“Australia is a good example,” she said. “I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level, if that could be arranged.”
Clinton also backed an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and removing liability protections for gun companies throughout her campaign.
On the other side, Donald Trump received the NRA’s endorsement after becoming the presumptive Republican nominee.
“In Donald Trump we have a candidate that’s the most forceful Republican nominee for president in the last 100 years when it comes to not only gun ownership but the lawful use of guns for self-defense,” Chris Cox, head of the NRA’s lobbying arm, told the Free Beacon. “He’s been unapologetic. He’s pointed out a very different path forward on guns than Hillary Clinton.”
Donald Trump largely supported NRA positions on the campaign trail and repeated his promise to defend the Second Amendment at nearly every one of his rallies.
State ballot initiatives passed in Nevada, Washington and California. Members of the gun rights movement attributed the wins to Americans’ support for the Second Amendment.
“Voters sent a loud and clear message that our gun rights are not for sale,” Cox said in a statement. “Despite the unprecedented efforts by New York City billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the gun control lobby, the Second Amendment prevailed. In the face of threats against their constitutional freedoms, NRA members and Second Amendment supporters rallied to elect a pro-gun president.”
Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb told the Free Beacon that gun voters turned out against Clinton and other gun control supporters.
“Hillary Clinton did not hit a glass ceiling,” he said. “She hit a ‘lead’ ceiling. America’s gun owners turned out to vote and made the Second Amendment great again.”
“At the local and state level, candidates that supported gun rights did very much better than those who supported gun control.”