Gun Owners Take Control In Washington

Gun Owners Take Control In Washington

Last night Senator Joni Ernst gave the Republican response to President Obama’s State Of The Union speech. Her successful response was made possible by a victorious campaign who received a huge assist from a national gun group who continues shaking up the establishment! The newly minted Senator from Colorado Cory Gardner had this to say, “As a fierce defender of the second amendment, Gun Owners of America provided invaluable support as we worked to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington, DC.”

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Gun Owner of America’s John Velleco with Senator Ernst at the Senate swearing in January 2015

There is only one organization that is committed to protecting the 2nd Amendment AND doing effective work to elect conservatives and it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. Gun Owners of America (GOA) is well known to the limited government activists on the front lines of the Tea Party, Liberty, and 2nd Amendment movements but after unparalleled campaign, legal, and lobbying success in recent years, they have become America’s premier gun rights organization, that most Americans have never heard of.

GOA has become the conservative alternative to the NRA with bold and early endorsements of underdog candidates and an unmatched ability to drive grassroots upsets. GOA focused heavily on Senate races in 2014 with newly elected Senators in Colorado, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska all receiving significant GOA support. The thrashing GOA has been delivering to gun grabbers goes back to the groups founding and really took off in 2010 when they aligned against the establishment and with the grassroots army that would shake up politics in Washington. No wonder Dr. Ron Paul has said of them, “Gun Owners of America is the only ‘no compromise’ gun lobby in DC.”

The list of candidates that GOA has supported since 2010 reads like a who’s who of conservative politics. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are all conservative rock stars now but weren’t such sure bets when GOA backed them in tough primaries in 2010 and 2012. “I think Rubio was at like 9% in the polls when we endorsed him,” GOA’s John Velleco told me in a phone interview.

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With each victory GOA’s membership and influence has grown and in 2014 they won in every general election Senate race they were involved in and more than 90% of their endorsed House candidates also won. In Colorado and Iowa they went head to head with billionaire Michael ‘little dictator’ Bloomberg-backed Senate candidates and in Alaska they found themselves as the only national gun group campaigning against a Democrat incumbent Senator who had received an A- from the NRA despite his support of Harry Reid, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. In each case they won but the different paths they took to victory highlights just how effective they’ve become.

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Senator Cory Gardner welcomes GOA to his new senate office saying, “As a fierce defender of the second amendment, Gun Owners of America provided invaluable support as we worked to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington, DC.”

In Colorado they used surveys to identify pro-gun Democrats and Independents and then targeted them with phones and television ads. They bought television ads on MSNBC, CNN, and hunting shows in the media markets with the highest levels of gun ownership where they identified pro-gun Democrats that had previously supported Democrat Senator Mark Udall and targeted them with educational robo calls and TV ads. Here is one of those ads:

In Alaska they also used a combination of surveys, phones, and ads to help the Republican nominee Dan Sullivan but because of the perception that Senator Begich was pro-gun GOA instead aimed their message towards Republican voters. Here is one of the ads that ran on Fox News:

GOA’s impressive campaign skills have served to boost their lobbying and legal influence. They led the charge to kill the Toomey-Manchin gun control bill in 2013 — a bill which would have eliminated gun shows in America. When it seemed all but certain that Harry Reid would get two new Democrat Senators by making Washington DC the 51st state, it was GOA who led the charge to beat it back. They file pro-gun legal briefs all over the country, 7 already in 2014. Those legal briefs can be viewed at www.gunowners.com.

There is no winning political coalition for Republicans without gun owners. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where the Republican controlled House and Senate would take up gun grabbing and so the battle field is shifting to individual states. Whether it’s confiscating firearms in New York or using healthcare to collect data on gun owners in Oregon, the threat from people with armed security to deny us our gun rights persists. Expect GOA to lead the charge in each of those fights and if their recent history is any indication, expect more bad news for the gun grabbers!

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