Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why the Democratic Party of Oregon Needs a Gun Owners Caucus

"This [pro-gun control] attitude has been a real problem in the West," Montana Democratic Chairman Bob Ream said. "Republicans have painted Democrats as people who will take your guns away."*

"I know there are concerns in large cities, but I want to hear candidates stand up and say they support the Second Amendment," said Edgar Malepeai, vice chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.*

What do Democratic Governors Bill RichardsonD-NM), Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have in common? They are all prominent Democrats who've put together winning coalitions in western states by staying true to the Democratic Party's support of civil rights, including the right to own and carry firearms, the second bullet point in the Bill of Rights. (Reid even gets campaign money from the NRA.) By breaking bread with the hunters (natural allies of environmentalists) and other pro-gun voting blocks, these politicians are able to hold office and fight for the core principles--equal protection under the law and other civil rights, economic justice, a rational foreign policy--that define the better nature of America.

The demographics of Oregon are similar to those of Montana, New Mexico, Nevada and most other western states: a few large urban centers; predominant, large rural areas with minimal police coverage, large amounts of state and federal lands managed for hunting, and a strong libertarian streak (small "l") that runs through the entire political spectrum from the far left to the far right. Support for gun owners' rights is an integral part of this region's cultural tradition; which again, crosses the political spectrum.

Politicians wishing to represent their constituents should be prepared to defend this culture, or explain why not. A national Pew research poll in February 2004 showed that 32% of voters will not vote for someone who disagrees with them on gun control. This puts the gun control issue close to abortion and other hot topics in its importance to voters. Unfortunately, in these times of close elections, the Democratic Party is generally viewed—unfairly, but still—as an anti-gun institution. The public needs to know this is wrong. Setting aside Florida for a moment, a perceived lack of credibility on gun rights is cited by members of Al Gore's own campaign as one of the reasons Al Gore lost traditionally Democratic states like West Virginia. It's also partially why John Kerry lost the rural vote in general (the shotgun photo ops only showed he didn’t get it: gun rights aren’t about hunting.)

Fortunately, in 2005, the Democratic Party of Oregon overwhelmingly passed RESOLUTION NO. 2005-008 (see link to for a discussion of the resolution). This resolution unambiguously states the DPO's support of 2nd Amendment rights (and responsibilities.) But we members of the DPO need to keep the momentum going. We need to make sure the public as a whole comes to understand that Democrats are, quite simply, the party that supports Americans' civil rights, including the right that is the guarantor of all the others: the right to bear arms.

We can best get out the word about the DPO's true position with a high-profile caucus charged with keeping gun owners’ rights in the forefront of the party’s policy decisions. I am currently in the process of founding a new caucus within the Democratic Party of Oregon: a Gun Owners' Caucus. There are many reasons, but this post deals with a big one: dispelling the misconception that Democrats want to take your guns away. Fact is, we don't. Please support this effort, and join the caucus today.


* Quotes from: Hartford Courant - Hartford, Conn. July 9, 2003. "Democrats Speak Softly on Gun Control" by David Lightman.


The Colonel said...

Here, here! For decades the Democratic Party has bravely guarded our Constitutional rights across the board, except for the Second Amendment. There should be no exceptions to our support of civil liberties, especially those specifically spelled out by the Founding Fathers.

Those who own firearms and use them responsibly should never feel they have anything to fear from the Democrats' politcal agenda, and that should be made clear to them.

Anonymous said...

the problem is ,,most of the rabid anti gun politicians are or have been democrat,the party should try to educate these people ,,if the entire democrat party adopted an adamant pro gun stance or posistion, it would be unbeatable, as most folks would rather vote democrat anyhow.

Anonymous said...

I have my doubts that the stench
of Burdick,Wu and others of
that stripe can be washed off the
Ore. Dem. Party. I am a member of
the NRA, GOA, OFF and a registered
Democrat also an independent voter.

Anonymous said...

I find this interesting. Listen to the interviews with Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. All three start talking about the second amendment and then immediately start talking about gun control from tracing guns to the dealers to reinstating the assault weapon ban.

Obama wants ATF to share tracing information with local law enforcement in order to go after illegal gun dealers.... Does everyone understand that this is the job of the ATF? That is one of their charters. Local law enforcement can ask ATF to trace any firearm used in a crime and it is routinely done. ATF will be happy to share the details of their arrest of an illegal gun dealer with the local authorities.

What they won't do is share information about legal gun dealers that have not done anything wrong. There has been a big push for this lately with the primary purpose being to construct a national data base and to be used in civil suits such as New York/Giuliani suit against gun manufactures.

Clinton wants to reinstate the assault weapon ban as the death of law enforcement officers have been increasing. They were on the decline and now that the ban has sunset, they are increasing... Well, outside of a very few states that used this to pass local laws to take their citizen’s guns (New Jersey), the assault weapon ban did nothing but ban the import of the so called assault weapons. It took nothing off the street. I still have my polytech and deer hunt with it every year.

Another point: Lying to the American people or is it just letting them believe a lie? You know, everyone who is really for the assault weapon ban that I talk to actually thinks they are banning AK47s. When I try to point out to them that it is the civilian semiautomatic versions (AKS 7.62 X 39 mm vs. AK47, AR15 vs. M16), half refuse to believe me and the other half are really offended. I have yet to find one pro assault weapon individual that knew that the assault weapon ban, banned the semi automatic versions of their counter parts.

Edwards just regurgitates the other two, talks about his roots and hunting, and sarcastically says that nobody needs an AK47 to hunt with. They all give lip service to hunting and teaching your children to shoot. Let us see now... it is fine to hunt with a Browning 308 semiautomatic rifle; however, there is no legitimate reason to hunt with a HK91. It is fine to hunt with a model 94, 30/30 Winchester, but somehow no real hunter would ever hunt with an AKS 7.62 X 39 mm. The difference is the model 94 is a lot meaner gun. The similarity is that they are both carbines. I could go on and on and on. Ruger mini 14, M1 carbine, etc. Put an injection molded nylon stock with a pistol grip on them and they are now assault weapons per the wording of the assault weapon ban. Same gun, it is just the Hollywood that they can sell to the American people.

Nobody address the fact that the second amendment is an individual right to own and bear firearms. The original intent was for individual freedom and the individual's inalienable right to protect his or her self and their families. The majority of the guns in this country are for self defense and not hunting. Why isn't that addressed?

Both Clinton and Obama begrudgingly limit themselves to the positions stated above. However, listening to their interviews, ( they clearly want much more, gun registration, licensing, etc.

I have spent the last so many years begrudgingly voting Republican solely on the basis of the second amendment because I feel that it is a constitutional right that is just as important as the first amendment. This site is dedicated to elect pro second amendment Democrats. Could someone please tell me how you could ever vote for Clinton? I would really like to know that one. More pertinently, how do you vote for Obama?

I have spent some time here trying to put forth a point of view and make an honest attempt to understand how the discrepancies between the Democratic platform and a pro second amendment position can be resolved. I have read here where the feelings seem to be, as one person put it, "most of the rabid anti gun politicians are or have been democrat" (would that be Senator Schumer or Senator Feinstein?). You keep supporting them? Maybe?

I am truly trying to develop a little empathy from a group of responsible people who seem to believe as I do, but are supporting people who are clearly against our very beliefs.

Thank you

EthanPDX said...

I think an important note to strike as we leave the Bush years is that we have all had enough of government playing fast and loose with our rights, all of them. If there is truly a national consensus (and there is not) to alter our gun rights, it should be done (attempted) through the amendment process.

Anything else is merely shades of what we've all lived through with warrantless wiretapping and denial of due process. Many people across the political spectrum were disgusted with the end runs that have been done around our rights, and if we can re-frame the conversation to show the "reasonable legislation" for what it really is, we might strike a chord with the larger public