NRA-PVF | Chris Cox's Political Report — John Kerry and the Second Amendment

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Chris Cox's Political Report — John Kerry and the Second Amendment

Friday, April 2, 2004

As he campaigns to take the White House, John Kerry claims he respects the Second Amendment. But his 20 years of casting anti-gun votes in the U.S. Senate reveal the truth.

The Democratic presidential primary season opened with a surprise in Iowa this year. John Kerry went into the Iowa contest as a second-tier candidate, but upset Howard Dean in a runaway. The primal scream performance that Dean gave after losing in Iowa helped Kerry to smother Dean's aspirations for good. Kerry went on to win New Hampshire and then claim five more states on Super Tuesday.

At this writing, it looks like John Kerry is well on his way to earning the Democratic nod to run against President Bush. But if Kerry wins, gun owners lose. A review of the votes he has cast since becoming a Senator in 1984 should make all law-abiding gun owners want to scream.

"I don't want to be the candidate of the NRA, I don't want our party to be the party of the NRA." - Senator John Kerry


Make no mistake, Kerry is trying to garner support from gun owners. He has repeatedly staged photo-ops afield with his side-by-side, and has proudly claimed to be a hunter "since he was a kid." His supporters have crowed about garnering votes from gun-owning Democrats in the primaries thus far. But the remarks he delivered at an meeting for party insiders reveal the truth behind his deceptive scheme.

Kerry told the party faithful that Democrats "cannot afford to be a party that reads the wrong lessons from the last elections. . . . I come here to tell you, we can't go out and win elections by throwing out our principles. I won't do it. I'm a hunter, I'm a gun owner, but I have never, ever thought of shooting with an AK-47 when I go hunting. And I will tell you, I don't want to be the candidate of the NRA, I don't want our party to be the party of the NRA. I reject that notion. We can stand up for safety in America and keep guns out of the hands of children and felons and still respect the Second Amendment of our nation." So what does Kerry mean by professing his "respect" for the Second Amendment? Let's take an quick overview of his voting record. His earliest votes came during the mid-1980s battle to enact the Firearms Owners' Protection Act. Kerry voted against all of the NRA-backed amendments during debate over the bill, and then was one of only 15 Senators to oppose final passage of the critical package of pro-gun reforms. If Kerry had his way, gun owners would still have to register to purchase .22 rimfire ammunition, and we'd all be subject to a 10-year prison sentence for selling a gun to a friend or family member.

It doesn't get any better from there. The Senate spent several years in the 1990s debating different versions of legislation to ban semi-automatic firearms, as well as several versions of the "Brady bill" to mandate a waiting period before the purchase of a handgun. Kerry voted repeatedly in favor of waiting periods, and even voted to keep state waiting periods intact when the federal law switched to an instant check. Kerry also voted in favor of every proposal to ban semi-automatic firearms, always supporting the most sweeping restrictions under debate. Kerry was there to help Bill Clinton in 1994, voting several times to put the Clinton gun ban on the books.

If that's not enough for you, let's look at the other ways Kerry showed his "respect" for the Second Amendment. Kerry voted to eliminate the Department of Civilian Marksmanship, and also voted to hold gun owners responsible if their firearms were stolen and misused. He voted repeatedly to ban gun shows, and also voted to strip federal bankruptcy protections away from the gun industry. He voted to "commend" the so-called Million Mom March--where anti-gun impresario Rosie O'Donnell led the crowd in a chant demanding gun registration--and voted to let the FBI charge an unlimited gun tax on firearm purchasers.

There is one type of control he has voted against--crime control. He voted against a 1999 proposal to increase mandatory penalties for the illegal transfer or use of a firearm, and to authorize funding for additional prosecutors. Kerry was well ahead of his time in knowing that support for enforcing laws against violent criminal misuse of firearms would undercut his aggressive anti-gun agenda.

So it makes sense that Kerry also voted against the nomination of John Ashcroft for Attorney General. Kerry would vehemently oppose two of Ashcroft's major accomplishments: officially recognizing the Second Amendment as an individual right, and overseeing the establishment of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which coordinates the vigorous enforcement of federal laws against violent criminal misuse of firearms.

For the icing on the cake, Kerry voted to censor NRA's free speech by supporting the campaign finance "reform" law. Kerry has accused NRA of "stealing our democracy" with our strong grassroots efforts, so it must have made sense to him to silence our voice in the critical period just before elections.

If that's "respect" for the Second Amendment, I would hate to see disrespect. And if John Kerry wins the White House in November, the mask will come off his radical anti-gun agenda.


The NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) is NRA's political action committee. The NRA-PVF ranks political candidates — irrespective of party affiliation — based on voting records, public statements and their responses to an NRA-PVF questionnaire.