Historically, whenever guns and gun control are even mentioned, it bodes ill for Democrats. Even the most hardcore union Democrats have shown that they will jump across party lines whenever there is but a hint of a threat to their 2nd Amendment rights:
"The past four federal election cycles have shown the awesome voting power of America’s sportsmen, hunters and gun owners. Bill Clinton admitted in his memoirs that the gun issue cost Al Gore the White House in 2000 and Sen. John Kerry’s pathetically staged “goose hunt” in Ohio just days before the 2004 presidential election cooked his. During the 2006 midterm elections, no candidates, save a few historically anti-gun politicians, ran on anti-gun platforms. The Democrats recruited candidates based, at least in part, on their pro-hunting, pro-2nd Amendment positions."
As a result, the Democrats have done everything possible to hide their party's affinity for gun control. Even Barak Obama has been profoundly mum on the topic of guns (much to the chagrin of the "Brady Bunch" and their ilk). Yet despite the dearth of anti-gun rhetoric, gun sales took off immediately after the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and soared into the stratosphere during the first year of Obama's presidency:
More recently, in the middle of downright moribund economic times, gun sales posted another all-time record - this past "Black Friday" was the biggest single day for gun purchases in history:
And note that these are not just current gun owners, buying yet one more gun. On the contrary, new gun owners are fueling the buying binge, and a growing percentage of them are women, particularly younger women:
Almost half of all adult women now own guns. More interesting is that the surge in women purchasing firearms is happening nationwide, even in geographic areas not typically associated with high rates of gun ownership. Do a search for "More women buying guns" and you will get pages of news stories from every corner of the nation.
Given this undeniably provocative trend in the middle of an election cycle, you would think that Republicans would be jumping all over it, especially since it has the potential to attract the very key groups Republicans need to win in 2012 - independents, women, and all those "Reagan" Democrats.
Yet guns are given little more than passing mention in the Republican debates. Even when questioned on the topic, there is almost no substantive discussion. Now, I certainly do understand why Mitt Romney would be loathe to bring up the subject - his record includes support for banning certain military-style rifles and other equally unpopular measures like "waiting periods" for handgun purchasers.
But more puzzling is the fact that the "Fast and Furious" gun-running scandal, currently embroiling Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder, hasn't been brought up by a single Republican candidate. This was, and is, a huge embarrassment for the Obama administration:
"A federal operation dubbed Fast and Furious allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so the arms could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which ran the operation, has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010."
So why are Republicans so "gun shy" this time around? When one considers the potential for using "Fast and Furious" to highlight the covert anti-gun agenda of the Obama administration, and gain a huge political advantage, the apparent reluctance of any of the Republican candidates to use it is truly baffling.
"Fast and Furious" is a big topic on pro-gun-rights forums across the nation, and as mentioned, activist gun owners have made the crucial difference in close elections in the past. The reason is that they not only vote at a much higher rate than the general population - they mobilize others to vote, too.
The buzz on virtually all of these same forums is that gun rights activists are clearly disappointed by the lack of leadership shown by the Republican candidates. Many are suggesting that it might be better to "stay home" as a protest, thereby almost ensuring that Obama would have a second term.
Are Republicans simply out of touch? Or is this merely the latest example of the GOP candidates finding a way to shoot themselves in the foot - this time with their own guns.
John Caile - HAVEGUNWILLVOTE