Media, gun control groups desperate to prop up claims that pro-gun votes will hurt Portman and other Senators at the ballot box

by Chad D. Baus

The establishment media, which repeatedly asserted that the horrific attack on a school in Newtown, CT meant that gun control was inevitable, are still reeling from the defeat of the anti-gun Manchin-Toomey amendment that sought to make Chuck Schumer's gun control bill, S. 469, palatable to more Senators.

Their attempts to make the undesirable "inevitable" having failed, the media are clearly working together on to a new angle to try and pressure pro-gun rights Senators into caving.

Since the vote on late April, article after article has been published, all claiming that polls taken since the vote show that public sentiment is clearly in favor of more gun control, that the NRA overplayed their hand by blocking these "common sense" measures, and that Senators who voted to stop S. 469 are going to pay the ultimate political price.

The pattern was too obvious to miss. The only question was, what were they up to? Was it simply a move to seek to hurt these Senators' re-election chances? If so, the effort seems a bit premature. Americans have shown time and again that they tend to hold a very short memory politically. Trying to claim that a Senator's vote in 2013 is going to change the outcome of an election (in the case of Republican Sen. Rob Portman) in 2016, simply lacks credulity. Sadly, given that a large number of Ohioans still won't be able to name their U.S. Senator by name, even after he has served them for six years, it just isn't reasonable to suggest that they will recall a specific vote made so early in his term.

No, it seemed clear to me that they were up to something else. And then came the revelation that, after the three week media campaign to sell the idea that the public was "turn[ing] on Republican senators who opposed the legislation," Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin had begun work to revive his gun control legislation. In fact, Manchin told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow his goal is to have another vote in the Senate before the August recess, promising that "we're going to pass this thing."

From The Daily Beast:

It's highly unusual after a crushing defeat to ask for a redo and expect that the outcome will be any different in three or four months, but there is reason to take Manchin seriously. Polls taken before the Senate vote showed that more than 90 percent of voters support background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and some of those voters have evidently soured on the senators who helped bring the bill down. Conversely, vulnerable Democrats in red states who voted for the bill, like Mary Landrieu in Louisiana and Kay Hagan in North Carolina, are experiencing no ill effects.

"Those who were on the fence and went in the wrong direction are paying a price," says Jim Kessler with Third Way, a centrist Democratic group. "They seem blind to the voters in their state, and beholden to a special interest."

...A subsequent poll conducted by a Democratic-leaning group, Public Policy Polling, found that five Republicans and one Democrat, Alaska's Mark Begich, were feeling the heat for opposing the legislation. In addition to Ayotte, the Republicans are Nevada's Dean Heller, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Ohio's Rob Portman, and Arizona's Jeff Flake. All are seen by gun-safety advocates as potential yes votes in a second wave of voting.

..."I'll take the bet this will get to the president's desk in this session of Congress," says Kessler, who believes the Senate will pass background checks this year, and then it will take time for pressure to build on the House side next year in the run-up to the midterm elections. "There's more to go in this fight," he says. "I like our chances."

Consider what you just read. Democrat-leaning polls taken before the vote agree with Democrat-leaning polls taken after the vote. What stunning news!

Consider also what you didn't read: Third Way, the so-called "centrist Democratic group" mentioned above, once had a different name: Americans for Gun Safety. billionaire Andrew McKelvey started the group after he failed to convince Handgun Control Inc. to change its name to hide its agenda (they only did so later, and are now operating as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence). Gun rights advocates apparently did too good of a job at exposing AGS as a wolf in sheep's clothing, so the group was renamed Third Way. But other than the name, not a lot seems to have changed. The group is still being represented in the media by Jim Kessler, and they're pushing their radical anti-Second Amendment agenda.

The trouble for Kessler, and for the liberal author of The Daily Beast article, is that not all polls are reaching this same conclusion. For example, according to a national survey by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post, 20% say are very happy the anti-gun rights legislation was blocked, while 19% say they are relieved.

Organizing for Action protestors
Tiny group rallies for gun control in Cincy - Photo credit: Amanda Lee Myers/AP

Got that? This poll found that 39% of respondents are glad things turned out the way they did. Were the 91% statistic quoted above true, that number should be just 9%.

Additionally, the Pew numbers coincide with other recent polls, including a USAToday poll showing that support for the passage of ANY new gun control law is between 45-49%, and a Gallup poll which showed that only 4% of the population thinks gun control is actually an important issue.

That's right - according to Gallup, 96% of Americans don't think that gun control is an important issue. Somehow I don't expect that is the ninety-something percent statistic that will continue to be used in articles, like this one from The Daily Beast, which are clearly intended to prime the pump for Manchin's second bite at the apple. But it certainly does explain the measly turn-out at an Obama-funded "Organizing for Action" protest against in Cincinnati last weekend.

Indeed, the fact 96% of Americans don't think that gun control is an important issue, tiny protests like these (about a dozen showed up to protest the 86,228 NRA members at last weekend's Annual Meetings), as well as the fact that gun-control "special interest" groups keep having to change their name to hide their agenda, should help Senators like Rob Portman remain confident that they are on the right side of history.

But the power of the media to turn perception into reality being what it is, gun owners and Second Amendment advocates can't sit back and rest on the fact that this effort was beaten back last month. Since the vote, as mentioned earlier, pro-gun Senators in swing states have come under intense pressure in a media campaign led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Here in Ohio, our own Sen. Rob Portman has been the target of television advertising purchased by the New York billionaire, who apparently continues to believe only elites like himself deserve armed protection.

Letters have been written to editors across the state, claiming that Rob Portman's votes to defend the Constitution represent an "uncaring disregard" for the people he represents, that his sound, fact-based explanations for voting to uphold the Constitution were "flawed," "pathetic" and "cliche-ridden." Letter-writers have also claimed that anyone who voted the way Portman did must be "mentally ill" and that Portman was bought off by the NRA. And of course, the false 90% statistic is used over and over and over again in these letters.

As has been observed, a lie told often enough becomes the truth. Therefore, we must not let these claims go unanswered.

If you are thankful for the stand Sen. Rob Portman has taken on behalf of Ohioans, the Constitution and the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, we need you to write your own letter to the editor.

When composing your letter, be brief and specific. State the purpose of your letter in the opening paragraph and stick to that topic. Keep your letter short. Always adhere to the paper's guidelines, which should be clearly stated on the editorial page of the paper.

If you'd like some additional background information to help in the preparation of your letter, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Please send your letter supporting Rob Portman to one of the following major Ohio newspapers near you, as well as to your local paper.

Links to many other Ohio newspapers' websites can be found here.

Your Senator voted to defend your rights. He has your back - and we need to have his. So send those letters! And while you're at it - please also share the letters you send with me at [email protected] and I'll publish them in an upcoming article.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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