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How the Second Amendment Fared Tonight:

U.S. House so far: -11. Losses in Colorado 4 (Markey over Musgrave), Florida 8 (Grayson over Keller), Florida 24 (Kosmas over Feeney), Michigan 9 (Peters over Knollenberg), NJ 3 (Adler over Myers), NY 13 (McMahon over Straniere), NY 25 (Maffie over Sweetland), Nev. 3 (Titus v. Porter), Penn. 3 (Dahlkemper over English), and Vir. 11 (Connolly over Fimian). For all races, the Democrat is listed first.

The remaining undecided races with Second Amendment implications are: Alaska (Berkowitz v. Young), Calif. 4 (Brown v. McClintock), Idaho 1 (Minnick v. Sali), Michigan 7 (Schauer v. Wallberg), Ohio 1 (Driehaus v. Chabot), Ohio 15 (Kilroy v. Stievers), and Washington 8 (Burner v. Reichert).

Just to guess, let's say that Democrats win 4/7 of these races. The final result is -15 for the Second Amendment. Not good, but much better than the worst-case scenario of -26 I noted last week.

The new House of Representatives will have a pro-gun majority on a normal vote. The Pelosi-Hoyer leadership will certainly not be pro-Second Amendment; but that leadership has recognized that its majority is precarious without pro-gun Democrats. However, a generally sympathetic majority does not guarantee victory for the pro-rights side if the President invests major political capital, as President Clinton did in 1994 to pass the ban on so-called "assault weapons" by a single vote.

U.S. Senate so far. In Virginia, a +1 as Democrat Mark Warner wins the seat vacated by the retirement of Republican Jim Warner. Elsewhere, -4 from Democratic wins in Colorado (Udall), NC (Hagen), NH (Shaheen), and NM (Udall).

Still undecided Senate races:

Gun-owners win either way in Alaska, where Stevens might be the Comeback Kid. He leads with 66% of the vote reported. I think that Stevens is emblematic of the culture of institutionalized corruption which I admire Sarah Palin for fighting. But I also think that the prosecutorial tactics (including the illegal concealment of evidence) were so abusive in U.S. v. Stevens that the judge should have dimisssed the charges.

The two other undecided Senate races are Oregon (Merkley v. Smith) and Minnesota (Franken v. Coleman). Both are tight as a tick. The most probable result would be one win by each party. So the final Senate result would be -4.

Bottom line: More than enough votes to hold a filibuster, if the Senators with the votes have the will to hold. Especially considering that there are about eight Democrat Senators who would readily self-identy as "pro-gun" and several more who might vote that way. And considering that the Republican caucus contains no Republicans worse than a C (as graded by the NRA).

Governor losses. -1. In Missouri, Democrat Nixon replaces Republican Blunt, who did not run for re-election. There is a potential gain if Republican Rossi wins the re-match of the race which Democrat Gregoire perhaps stole in 2004.

President. Based on past record, certainly a -1. One important difference between our last Democratic President and our next one is the latter has shown himself to be much more self-disciplined. Accordingly, it is possible that he will not waste his political capital on a reckless culture war against gun owners, as President Clinton foolishly did.

So perhaps President Obama will spend his political capital elsewhere, and be a -0.1 President on the gun issue. The approach would be in line with the positive, unifying themes that Obama presented on victory night in Iowa last January, and with his eloquent victory speech tonight.

I don't know if President Obama will be so temperate. But anyone who fears for the worst can still hope for the best.

Update: In the Senate races, Stevens and Coleman won (but there will be a recount for Coleman), and Smith is leading with 70% of the vote in. Chambliss may face a run-off in Georgia. So thus far, the Senate count is -3.

In the House, the pro-Second Amendment candidate won the following races which were undecided: Alaska, California, and Ohio 15. Reichert has a slight lead in Washington 8, with 40% of the vote in. So the final result in the House is -14, or -15 if Reichert loses. There are probably still enough votes in both houses of Congress to pass positive legislation, but not enough to over-ride what would be a near-certain presidential veto. And I doubt that the leadership of either house would put President Obama in the position of having to veto a gun bill.

Dan M.:
So are these "pro gun" Democrats and C-rated Republicans going to live up to their name? Or have they simply latched onto the Third Way rhetoric needed to paint "reasonable restrictions" as pro gun?

Do gun owners have enough clout to prevent what will essentially amount to a ban on private sales?

To oppose new taxes? To prevent mandated microstamping and ballistic fingerprinting?

Yeah, as Obama has said, he won't have the votes to take our guns away, but how much damage can he do with a few "reasonable" laws?
11.5.2008 3:35am
Kevin P. (mail):
David, can you add a link to your previous Second Amendment post? Thanks!
11.5.2008 4:20am
Kevin P. (mail):
Duh, sorry, I found it, buried inside the post.
11.5.2008 4:23am
Kevin P. (mail):
At this moment, Coleman is ahead of Al Franken by less than a thousand votes out of 2.5 million! Incredible!
11.5.2008 4:52am
Splunge:
Oh, excellent! So I'll still be able to buy a gun. Er...that is, I could've, had I had any money left over from the new tax burdens required to pay for healing the planet, paying for the health care of every couch potato too "depressed" to work for it himself, and funding research into antimatter warp drive perpetual-motion power plants to replace nasty old coal and oil.
11.5.2008 4:53am
Dr. Weevil (mail) (www):
I know it's confusing that Virginia just elected a Democratic Warner to replace a retiring (and unrelated) Republican Warner, but the latter is John, not Jim. The guy is not only a 5-term U.S. Senator, he was once married Elizabeth Taylor, and you still can't remember his name? How fleeting is fame.
11.5.2008 5:10am
therut (mail):
I do not think Warner of VA will be so pro 2nd amendment in the Seanate. A tape came out of him saying the NRA, right wing Christians and homescollers were destroying the USA. I do not trust the fool.
11.5.2008 8:59am
Sam Draper (mail):
Thanks Mr. Kopel for keeping everyone informed about this.

I agree that there is a pretty good chance that the gun issue will stay off the table for the next few years, but I bet gun and ammo sales are very brisk in the next few months.

Has anyone heard about the status of the National Park concealed carry rules? I was hoping that would be finalized before Obama is sworn in.
11.5.2008 9:29am
Jim at FSU (mail):
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
11.5.2008 10:38am
Virginian:

I do not think Warner of VA will be so pro 2nd amendment in the Seanate. A tape came out of him saying the NRA, right wing Christians and homescollers were destroying the USA. I do not trust the fool.


I agree. Mark Warner is definitely not pro-gun, but he was not anti-gun when he governed in VA (he signed pro-gun bills that made it to his desk). I think he took the positions he needed to in order to stay politically viable in this very pro-gun state. Will he now feel secure enough to stray to the dark (anti-gun) side, especially if his arm is twisted hard enough? I predict that he will disappoint gun owners in the very near future (renewed AWB, anyone?).

I also have my doubts about Jim Webb. He is definitely more pro-gun than Mark Warner, but I predict he will sell us out for some choice committee assignment or something like that.
11.5.2008 11:25am
Allan (mail):
I call BS.

We are ALL pro-2nd amendment. It's just that some think the second amendment means one thing and some think that the second amendment means another.

Get some truth in advertising: your real assessment is how the election affected policians who agree or disagree with YOUR view on the 2nd amendment.
11.5.2008 11:57am
Careless:

I call BS.

We are ALL pro-2nd amendment. It's just that some think the second amendment means one thing and some think that the second amendment means another.

Get some truth in advertising: your real assessment is how the election affected policians who agree or disagree with YOUR view on the 2nd amendment.

Allan: there are three factions in the debates on the 2nd. People who support a less-restricted right, people who support more restrictions, and people who want to ban guns more or less completely and will use whatever rhetorical means they can to accomplish that. You can make a case that the second group is pro-2nd, but the third group is not and wishes it could be deleted from the Constitution.
11.5.2008 12:04pm
Virginian:

I call BS.

We are ALL pro-2nd amendment. It's just that some think the second amendment means one thing and some think that the second amendment means another.

Get some truth in advertising: your real assessment is how the election affected policians who agree or disagree with YOUR view on the 2nd amendment.


Under your rationale, I can call myself pro-1A if I believe that you should have a government license to operate a blog. I can call myself pro-4A if I believe that every search and seizure is reasonable. I can call myself pro-3A if I think it is OK to quarter soldiers in homes in really high crime areas (because it's for the children, of course).

So, any interpretation of the meaning of an amendment, regardless of how restrictive that interpretation is of our rights, can be considered supportive of that amendment?
11.5.2008 1:05pm
sjalterego (mail):
Thanks for a fair and informative post. Obviously those who believe in the 2A ( and not just claim to support it) realize that we lost ground last night. McCain would be better for the 2A than Obama and we lost some support on the legislative side as well. However, those who predict massive incursions against our rights are probably overreacting, at least I hope so.

I voted for Obama, on other issues, but expect that I will have to join forces with the NRA (or the SAF or just donate money to Gura) --and the Republicans in general-- in more strenuously opposing Obama and the Dems on a wide range of issues in the near future.

Maybe I should make a contribution to the SAF in penance for my apostasy?
11.5.2008 1:29pm
Mr. X (www):
Obama could spend political capital on gun control legislation like Clinton did, but he knows what happened to the Congress after that law was passed. This makes it extremely unlikely that he will push any gun control.
11.5.2008 3:50pm
Mr. X (www):
Obama could spend political capital on gun control legislation like Clinton did, but he knows what happened to the Congress after that law was passed. This makes it extremely unlikely that he will push any gun control.
11.5.2008 3:50pm
Patrick Joyce (NO relation to the Joyce Foundation) (mail):
I believe that the most dangerous threat will be Mr. Obama's political debt to George Soros, et al., and The Joyce Foundation. I think that their most serious avenue of attack on our Second Amendment rights will be through the U.N. initiative on control of "Small Arms Trafficking". The Treaty Power of the Senate &President concerns and frightens me more than any other Executive/Legislative possibility.
As far as the true meaning of the S.A. is concerned, I submit that no fair-minded person can doubt the Founders' clear intent (that The People, individually and severally, be armed with modern weapons, equal or superior to the army's) after reading The Federalist (Papers), The Anti-Federalists, the 2-volume Debate On The Constitution and the Militia Act of 1792.
If a politician, judge, or bureaucrat is not intimately familiar with these, he/she/it should be recalled or fired for criminally willful ignorance.
Please also note that, unlike the First Amendment's "Congress shall make no law", the Second says "shall not be infringed." Period. That closing phrase is clearly meant to apply to ALL governmental entities, Federal, State and local, and, I submit, to the powers of the Senate regarding treaties.
11.5.2008 5:54pm
The Great Demagogue (mail):
I think that the most dangerous time for our country's people is ahead. With the democrats gaining control our individual rights, especially our right to bear arms, are going to be whittled away into nothing. Then Obama will be able to control the country through oppression and turn us into the new soviet union. The obama campaign has already started, they arrested that ABC reporter outside their office (google itfor video), and the campaign has encouraged police forces to spead Obama's message of change. God help this country.
11.7.2008 11:02am
Allan (mail):
My BS call still stands.

There may be those who want to toss the second amendment, but while it is there support its enforcement.

I would think that there are people out there who oppose marijuana being illegal, but so long as it is, support the prosecution of marijuana users. They are just inclined to support the law as it is.

Anyone who supports having the second amendment is "pro" second amendment. Those who do can be divided into groups. I would submit that the overwhelming majority of our national elected officials support the second amendment, but have varying views on what it means. Just because they do not have the view that the second amendment means you can own any weapon that you want without any government oversight, does not make them anti-second amendment.
11.7.2008 1:16pm