Back to my web page at

Shotgun News, November 10, 2004, p. 9

After The Election

By the time you read this article, the election will be over. Either Bush will have won, Kerry will have won--or lawyers will trying to repeat the 2000 Florida disaster, probably in another state, arguing over which ballots to count and by what method. I hope that Bush will have won by a sufficiently large margin that Kerry accepts the loss, and concedes on Election Night. But as I write these words, I find myself increasingly worried that Kerry might win.

The news media are pulling out all the stops to elect Kerry: misrepresenting the final report of the Iraqi Survey Group on WMDs; reporting news based on 1973 Air National Guard memos that were produced on a modern computer; soft-pedaling the really astonishing level of violence that Bush campaign offices are suffering from drive-by shootings, from screaming demonstrators forcing entry, and other forms of intimidation.

We have won a great victory in September, with the expiration of the federal assault weapons law. If, as you read these words, the news media are filled with coverage about "President-elect Kerry" you can be sure that a new, much more extreme version of the assault weapons law will be introduced into Congress. If Kerry is our new President, it is very likely that Democrats have won control of the U.S. Senate--and perhaps even the House of Representatives. If so, one of the big fights for 2005 is going to be stopping a new assault weapons ban.

When President Bush took office in 2001, the federal government stopped assisting ambulance-chasers in suing the gun industry for "negligent marketing."  (Negligent marketing means that gun manufacturers were obeying all laws concerning making and selling guns, but federal and state authorities were failing to enforce existing laws.) You can be sure that President Kerry will resume that assistance. Remember: one of America's most successful trial lawyers will be Vice President John Edwards.

If John Kerry is preparing his inaugural address as you read this column, remember that you can blame a lot of gun owners. John Kerry made it very clear throughout his time in the U.S. Senate which side he was on, and it wasn't our side. A lot of American gun owners were taken in by Kerry's photo-ops with a shotgun, and did not pay attention to his voting history. If you are one of the gun owners who voted for John Kerry a few days ago, let's just say that gun ownership wasn't near the top of your list of priorities. If it was, you weren't paying attention.

There is another group of gun owners out there who may have elected John Kerry--the gun owners that don't vote. I've heard all sorts of amazing excuses on this one. "I don't want to get called for jury duty."  Sorry, but that won't fly. Many states now use driver's license information to call jurors. If that's the only reason that you didn't vote to keep John Kerry from appointing judges to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, then you have a very shortsighted view of what's important. Would you rather spend two weeks on jury duty every few years, or lose the right to own a gun?

"There's no real difference, anyway."  I suppose to a blind person, there's no real difference between red and blue. This election has given us a very clear difference--even more clear-cut than the 2000 election, where Gore's history on gun control was disappointing, but he had in the past been on our side. Kerry has never been on our side. If you don't want to invest the time to follow politics (and many people would prefer not to do so), you could at least see what gun rights groups such as the NRA or Gun Owners of America had to say about the candidates.

There is one group of gun owners that I am especially upset with--and those are the self-righteous gun rights purists, who complained that Bush wasn't pure enough. They insisted that because Bush agreed to sign a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban, they could not vote for him. If the choice a few days ago had been between George Bush and a wishy-washy Democrat==one that, for example, supported a ban on assault weapons, but opposed gun lawsuits against gun makers, or one that was gun-friendly, but supported background checks and mandatory registration, then I could understand the purists who voted Libertarian or did not vote for President at all.

But that wasn't the situation this election day. John Kerry was clearly our enemy. President Bush appointed an Attorney General who has defended the Second Amendment as an individual right--something not done by any Attorney General in my lifetime. Do you think Attorney General Ashcroft made a decision like that without consulting President Bush?

If a federal assault weapons ban had made it to the Oval Office, and Bush had signed it, I could understand the purist disdain for Bush. But it didn't happen, because George Bush and House Republicans did an incredibly sly job of making sure that no assault weapon ban came to his desk. This largely defused the assault weapon issue as part of the campaign. If you are one of those gun rights purists who did not vote for President Bush this year--and are now cringing at the prospect of what President Kerry is going to do to your gun rights--I sure hope that you learned your lesson. The rest of us are going to have four years to repent for your decision.

Clayton E. Cramer is a software engineer and historian. His last book was Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform (Praeger Press, 1999). His web site is