FORBES.COM AUGUST 25, 2020 – For Republicans who have come to depend on the stalwart support of a highly mobilized National Rifle Association, nearly daily reports of the organization’s leadership struggles followed by the New York Attorney General’s filings to dissolve the organization over charges of systemic corruption could not have come at a worse time. It’s the latest in a series of random calamities that have befallen an otherwise roaring presidency as we stand just over two months away from an election that offers a contrast as stark as any we’ve seen since Reagan versus Carter.
Without COVID-19 dominating the world’s consciousness and daily news cycles, the implosion of the NRA at a time when the President and congressional Republicans needed them most would surely be one of the biggest scandals of the year—perhaps the decade. It’s the kind of right-wing dysfunction that gets Hollywood salivating almost as much as philandering religious figures. With the release of a new book purportedly documenting the dirt on the NRA, can the sequel to Bombshell be far away?
But what if none of this matters come election day? What if the NRA as a lobby organization was never really as important as the members who supported it…all five million of them? Could it be that millions of gun owners mostly wanted others to know how much the right to keep and bear arms meant to them and purchasing an NRA membership was simply the most obvious and expedient vehicle to express that belief?
Democrats are giddy at the notion that the NRA—spending much of its money on mounting legal fees and under gunned for the coming political fight—might be largely irrelevant this election cycle. What they are grossly miscalculating, however, is the resolve of gun owners who comprise perhaps the nation’s largest voting bloc. Gun owners see the President as a steadfast ally. Conversely, they tend to see Democrats the way ship captains view icebergs. Senator Biden famously said, if elected, he’d turn gun confiscation duties over to Beto O’Rourke, in an exchange that did far more to motivate gun owners than anything the NRA could have concocted in their war room.
Somewhere in the halls of the Trump campaign there will surely emerge ads celebrating the Biden-O’Rourke epiphany on guns. Those ads will play well in places like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and North Carolina—not so coincidentally all battleground states. Despite Biden’s current lead in the polls, don’t be surprised if the Democrat’s miscalculation on the issue turns this election into their Dewey versus Truman moment, for gun owners seldom forget—and there are 150 million of them, far more than have ever belonged to the NRA.
While Democrats continually look to drive a wedge between those who use sporting firearms and those who own so-called assault weapons, Dems are forever incapable of defining the mechanical difference between the two…mostly because there isn’t much. In a survey of likely voters in 18 battleground states, the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that a majority do not support a ban on semi-automatic firearms. [full article]