Gun Vote! 2A Topics Often an Issue in Races Nationwide
With the Mid-Term elections just days away, voters are set to weigh in on the course of national and local policy – with guns as a debate-worthy topic in many races. With the messaging from Dems leaning into abortion, progressive politics, and gun control, while the Republicans are fighting back with ads on inflation, gas prices, border security, and pro-Second Amendment politics, there is a divide.
President Biden, the default front man for the Democrats, weighed in on guns while at a rally for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in Albuquerque on Wednesday. In the rant, he stumped for "red flag" gun seizure laws, bans on popular semi-auto firearms, and expanded background checks to cover person-to-person transfers. In a nutshell, his party's position on guns, complete with tropes about deer in body armor.
Look, we passed the most significant gun safety law in 30 years without any help from them. The NRA fought us tooth and nail. Your governor is committed to protecting public safety, so she got gun legislation passed here in New Mexico — universal background checks — as if that’s a problem. Red flag laws, as my son who was Attorney General, was the first one to get passed in the state of Delaware — keeping the guns out of the hands of those who harm themselves.
She doubled state spending for public safety and raised salaries for state police, which I provided billions of dollars for people to be able to do. Many of her opponents — meanwhile, her opponents have the highest possible rating from the NRA and is against a simple measure to get dangerous weapons off the street.
And one more thing, I’m coming back and — I got it done once; I’m going to do it again — eliminate assault weapons.
Look, folks, they travel — that bullet travels five times as fast as something coming out of a muzzle of a gun. And guess what? Guess what? I don’t know a whole lot of deer running around wearing Kevlar vests.
Cash at play
In almost every Dem vs GOP race, anti-gun and pro-2A groups are spending big for their respective sides. So far in the 2022 election cycle, the NRA and Gun Owners of America have spent $6,830,882 and $2,030,746 respectively against the Everytown gun control group's $6,089,332. Giffords, meanwhile, self-advertised that they spent $10 million.
U.S. Senate races
This November, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate are contested, seats currently filled by 14 Democrats (13 of whom are running for re-election) and 21 Republicans (including 15 incumbents). Of those 35 races, only about nine or 10 are considered tight by poll watchers such as 538.com and the Cook Political Report. These include the Oz-Fetterman race in Pennsylvania, Walker-Warnock in Georgia, Masters-Kelly in Nevada, Bolduc-Hassan in New Hampshire, Johnson-Barnes in Wisconsin, Budd-Beasley in North Carolina, Vance-Ryan in Ohio, O'Dea-Bennett in Colorado, and Smiley-Murray in Washington. As six of those 10 very closely contested seats are currently under Democrat control, races in those states are being closely watched on a national level.
Despite some past controversial comments on guns, Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania race has promised to defend constitutional rights. His opponent, John Fetterman, meanwhile, has been warmly endorsed by Giffords and other anti-gun groups.
In Arizona, Republican candidate Blake Masters has been clear that the Second Amendment is not about duck hunting. On the other hand, his opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly, is literally the co-founder of Giffords.
In New Hampshire, Gen. Don Bolduc, running against former governor and current U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, when speaking in support of his views of the right to keep and bear arms versus accountability, "33 plus years in the military and I've never punished a weapon for doing something wrong." Hassan, meanwhile, has repeatedly voted in favor of "commonsense" gun control measures while in Washington and, as governor, had vetoed a constitutional carry bill that later was approved after she left office.
In Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who is running to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, has been endorsed by just about every gun control group there is and is benefiting from a $1 million media buy from Everytown that was called out by fact checkers as being misleading. This comes as Barnes, who has praised Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in the past, has also said people who support "God, country, and guns" use the same "dangerous" rhetoric as members of the terrorist group ISIS.
U.S. House races
With every one of the 435 seats for voting representatives up for grabs in Congress and 218 seats needed to control the chamber, as of Nov. 4, the non-partisan Cook Political Report had 188 seats rated as "solid Republican" while only 159 were rated as "solid Democrat," leaving control of the body up to the polarity of the 88 seats in competitive races.
Of those 88, Cook chalked up 10 currently Democrat-held seats leaning or likely going to Republican candidates and 10 GOP seats as "toss-ups" versus 25 Blue seats in the same toss-up category, painting an easier route to a red wave gaining control of the House than for the Dems to retain control.
Important state governor races
Across the country, 36 governorships are up for election with a few seen as almost assuredly flipping such as the current Republican-held governors in Massachusetts and Maryland while Dems could lose out in Nevada, Oregon, New York, and Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, recent polls have even money on Republican Tim Michels besting incumbent Dem Gov. Tony Evers. Among other things, the two have squared off on the subject of "red flag" gun seizure orders with Evers on the record as supporting them wholesale while Michels cautioned, "A disgruntled ex could say 'My ex, who is a hunter, has some weapons at home, and I am afraid of that,' and without due process, those guns could be confiscated," going on to say, "That's unconstitutional, first of all, and it is also a slippery slope."
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat who has repeatedly panned lawful gun ownership and signed gun control measures while in office is going to the wire against Republican challenger, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, in the state’s gubernatorial race. Lombardo has gone on record against just about everything Sisolak has ever said on the Second Amendment although as recently as 2016 he supported magazine capacity restrictions.
In New York, Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has pushed gun control and restrictions since he took over from disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, is facing off in an unexpectedly tight race against New York Rep. Lee Zeldin. The two have often held wildly different views on gun control.
Gun ballot question
In Oregon, Measure 114, if passed, would be among the strictest gun control ballot initiative ever enacted into law in the nation. A "yes" vote would require permits to purchase firearms be obtained from local law enforcement and establish a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition even though, for many rifles and pistols, this is less than standard capacity. The measure is currently polling inside the margin of error.
Groups opposed to Measure 114 include the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Oregon Hunters Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Sportsmen’s Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Oregon Wild Sheep Foundation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club International, Oregon Outdoor Council, Oregon Anglers Alliance, Oregon Trappers Association, Oregon United Sporting Dogs Association, Mule Deer Foundation, National Deer Association, Dallas Safari Club, and Hunting Works for Oregon.
"Measure 114 is an ineffective attempt at reform that will hurt responsible gun owners without addressing mental health services, gang violence, public safety, or any of the other areas that are proven to have close ties to gun violence," said Amy Patrick, Policy Director for the Oregon Hunters Association. "Rather than investing in solutions that will protect people, this poorly written measure creates a larger bureaucracy that imposes illogical standards on Oregonians who want to legally hunt and recreate."
For a deeper dive, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Gun Vote archives have lots of detailed insights on several individual races.
And in kind of an opposite to that, Everytown maintains a list of largely anti-2A "Gun Sense Candidates" who "have proven their commitment to lifesaving gun laws." You know, folks in favor of bans, restrictions, regulations, and so forth.