Have you ever wondered just how our legislators receive their gun lobby ratings? You know, A-plus through F-minus. Clearly much depends on their voting record on gun-related legislation, whether in Congress or in the state legislatures. Well there is another element that factors into the rating and that element is official candidate surveys.
A while back I toyed with the idea of running for the soon-to-be-vacated District 6 Congressional seat currently held by John Delaney. I considered running because I sincerely believed that my experience with both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government exceeded the experience of any of the candidates currently running for that office.
However, I decided against running for two reasons. One reason is the current political environment in which money does, indeed, talk and all too often the most money talks the loudest and focusing on gathering campaign contributions is not something I wanted to tackle at this time.
The other reason is that I would have had to give up the platform that the Montgomery County Sentinel has provided me for the last several years. That decision may have made some readers happy, but giving up my front-row seat to observing history is something I did not want to do at this time either.
True, the history we are watching emanating from the Oval Office is similar to watching the Hindenburg explosion over a prolonged period of time, but it is history nevertheless.
Regardless of the wisdom of my decision, one benefit of being a candidate for office, even if only for a short time was the receipt of the “Official Candidate Survey” from the National Association for Gun Rights. The survey, entitled “Defending the Second Amendment, Standing Up for Freedom,” consists of 13 yes or no questions, each accompanied by a fuller explanation of the intent of the question.
Also accompanying the questionnaire is a letter signed by the president of the National Association for Gun Rights, Dudley Brown, explaining the importance of the questionnaire and that “Failure to return the survey by the 3/27/2018 deadline will be reported to our members. Our experience teaches that a non-response is usually a sign of hostility to or a poor voting record on Second Amendment issues.”
Well, they are probably right on that point.
Let's see how I would have done if I did complete the survey, answering each question but also providing some degree of an explanation for my answers:
1. Do you believe the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights is an individual right, protected by the Constitution of the United States of America, and it is the duty of the United States Congress to protect that right?
NO – The Second Amendment was enacted to ensure the arming of an army comprised of citizens and it was not until the Heller case in 2008 that the Supreme Court ruled to allow individuals the right to possess firearms for protection but also recognized Congress' responsibility to impose reasonable limits on ownership.
2. Do you oppose restrictions on the manufacture, importation, sale, purchase and possession of rifles, shotguns, handguns, magazines, firearms components, and firearms accessories?
NO – Reasonable restrictions are in the best interests of protecting “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” of citizens, whether at a school, movie theater, shopping mall, night club, and so on.
3. Do you support legislation to fully remove firearms suppressors from regulation under the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968?
NO – Reducing noise pollution sounds like a good idea, but the explanation provided with Question No. 3 provides no rationale for removing existing regulations other than stating that gun owners should not be subjected to the existing legislation. Additionally, providing easier access to suppressors could lead to an increase in crime.
4. Do you support an audit of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and do you support legislation to abolish or decrease the budget and authority of the ATF?
NO – Claiming there is no need for new gun laws since we need to enforce existing gun laws and then hold back funding for ATF to enforce those existing laws especially those dealing with shutting down commercial sales at gun shows is the height of hypocrisy.
5. Do you oppose all prohibitions, restrictions, or regulations on firearm ammunition for private civilian use including, but not limited to “lead ammo” and M855 “green tip” ammunition?
NO – Access to all types (and amount) of ammunition by the private civilian population is the height of irresponsibility and reasonable limits are more than justified in the name of protection of our civilian population.
6. Do you oppose so-called “no-fly, no-buy” legislation that would allow Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens to be stripped without due process?
NO – If you pose a significant enough threat to be excluded from air travel it makes absolutely no sense to allow easy access to firearms to those same individuals.
7. Do you support eliminating the “sporting purposes test” that bans the importation of foreign manufactures firearms which could otherwise be legally purchased by American citizens?
NO – This is an important step in limiting the easy access to military-style assault weapons by the general public.
8. Do you oppose the government submitting private mental health records of those who have NOT been adjudicated mentally ill by a court to the National Instant Check System, thereby stripping non-felons of their Second Amendment rights without due process?
NO and YES – An immediate threat such as the one presented in Parkland and a myriad of other shooting massacre locations must be entered immediately into NICS but there should be some formal follow-up with the courts.
9. Do you support legislation to restore Second Amendment rights to veterans and other individuals whose gun rights have already been stripped without due process in a court of law?
NO – Veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder should first be required to receive a clean diagnosis before re-obtaining firearms.
10. Do you support legislation to repeal the so-called Federal “gun-free school zones” act, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 but which Congress re-passed in 2002?
NO – The more guns at a school, the more chance there is of guns getting into the wrong hands.
11. Do you oppose all legislative efforts or back-door attempts to establish a national database of gun owners, firearms purchases, or concealed carry permit holders?
NO – It would be a great way to distinguish the law-abiding citizens from those who are not.
12. Do you support repealing the prohibition on the interstate purchase of handguns?
NO – Since far too many shootings in states with strong firearms safety laws are done with firearms brought in from states with weak gun safety laws, I think rifles and shotguns should be added to the ban on handguns.
13. Do you support prohibiting federal funds from being used to support, negotiate or implement the United Nations “Small Arms Treaty”?
NO – Since the number of mass shootings in the U.S. far exceeds the number of such massacres in the rest of the world, it might be wise to join the international community in seeking solutions to the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.
I am guessing that my responses to the survey will not get me an A-plus rating.