For Immediate Release
Election Results A Major Victory For Common Sense Gun Laws
WASHINGTON - The election of Barack Obama as President and Joe Biden as Vice
President along with significant wins in the U.S. Senate, the U.S.
House of Representatives and key state legislative chambers, have
significantly improved the political environment for progress on gun
violence prevention issues in the years ahead.
The results also constitute a massive defeat for the leadership of the
National Rifle Association, which said it spent more than $10 million
to tell voters that President-Elect Obama would be "the most anti-gun
President in American history." According to Paul Helmke, President of
the Brady Campaign, "the NRA bosses went ‘all in' and lost big. They
spent millions on their campaign to ‘defeat Obama' and failed."
The gun lobby's single-issue voters failed to deliver. The NRA spent
heavily on TV and radio advertising in states that landed decisively in
the Democratic column, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New
Mexico, Florida, Nevada, Wisconsin, Minnesota and others. It spent more
than $1 million on Senate races, with the largest amounts going towards
losing races in North Carolina and Colorado.
"When it comes to common sense gun policies, our candidates won, the
NRA's candidates lost, and efforts to use the gun issue as a wedge
issue flopped," Helmke said. "We know of no candidate anywhere, at any
level, for any office, who lost a race because of support for common
sense gun measures."
"This is a good day for people who want to reduce gun violence in
America," said Sarah Brady, Chair of the Brady Campaign. "It's a bad
day for extremists who are stuck in the rhetoric of the past."
The Brady Campaign issued a strong endorsement for the Obama-Biden
ticket in early October. President-Elect Obama consistently supported
sensible gun laws in the U.S. Senate and in the Illinois State Senate.
Vice President-Elect Biden not only has supported, but also has been a
leader for strong gun laws throughout his career in the U.S. Senate.
In races for the U.S. Senate, at least four seats previously filled by
opponents of common sense gun laws went to candidates who take more
reasonable positions. Where the Brady Campaign endorsed in U.S. Senate
races against candidates either endorsed or "A" rated by the NRA, seven
out of seven Brady-endorsed candidates won.
In the U.S. House, in matchups between Brady Campaign-endorsed
candidates and candidates either endorsed or "A" rated by the NRA,
better than 84 percent of the Brady candidates won. More than 91
percent of all Brady-endorsed House members won. High-profile NRA
supporters defeated yesterday included incumbents Marilyn Musgrave in
Colorado; Phil English in Pennsylvania; Ric Keller and Tom Feeney in
Florida and Joe Knollenberg in Michigan. Successful Brady-endorsed
candidates won in states like Maine (Chellie Pingree), Kentucky (John
Yarmuth), Iowa (Dave Loebsack) and Virginia (Gerry Connolly).
The New York State Senate switched from Republican to Democratic
control in part because of successful Brady Campaign-endorsed
candidates in two key races who campaigned aggressively on the gun
issue. In addition, several Brady-targeted incumbents in Illinois
state legislative races were defeated.
While economic and foreign policy issues dominated the campaigns,
Helmke pointed out that gun laws were discussed regularly during the
primaries and general election with all major candidates frequently
answering questions and taking positions on the topic. The NRA's
extensive ad buys in battleground states which ended up in the
Obama-Biden column were significant.
"President-Elect Obama has talked repeatedly about his support for
sensible gun laws and the need to keep dangerous guns out of the hands
of dangerous people. He even highlighted his support for restrictions
on assault weapons in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National
Convention in Denver," Helmke said. "Obama's message on guns,
recognizing that the Second Amendment gives people the right to own
guns subject to reasonable restrictions, is consistent with what we've
been saying since the Supreme Court's ruling on the Second Amendment
Indeed, Brady Campaign officials believe that the Supreme Court decision in D.C. v. Heller
may be part of the reason that the gun lobby's old rhetoric trying to
scare legitimate gun owners about possible confiscation of their
privately-owned firearms, was rejected at the polls. "Guns are no
longer a ‘wedge' issue for most voters," Helmke said. "Rather than
being frightened with false alarms about the government taking their
guns away, most voters want to do something to make it harder for
dangerous people to get dangerous weapons and to stop the trafficking
in illegal guns."
Some additional facts and numbers about yesterday's results:
More than 91 percent of Brady Campaign endorsed candidates nationwide won their elections.
- Some Brady endorsed candidates who won House seats - like
Alan Grayson in Florida and Gary Peters in Michigan - were considered
underdogs for much of the election cycle.
- Not only did the NRA leaders endorse a candidate for President they had previously called "one of the premier flag carriers for enemies of the Second Amendment"
and graded only a "C+," but none of their highly-graded supporters -
Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, Ron Paul or Bill Richardson - lasted long
in the primaries.
- In head-to-head races between candidates endorsed or "A"
rated by the NRA and candidates endorsed by the Brady Campaign, the NRA
lost more than 80 percent.
- The NRA ran at least nine different television ads
attacking Obama in at least eleven states. Obama ended up winning ten
of those 11 states.
"We know many elected officials still consider anything dealing with
guns to be controversial, but yesterday's elections should encourage
them to start moving forward," Helmke said. "We know we still have to
work hard to get common sense gun laws adopted. But gun violence
victims and the survivors of loved ones lost to gun violence should be
hopeful that we can make some real progress to protect our families and
communities from gun violence in the next few years."
As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.