Will Democrats have a pro-gun Vice Presidential candidate?

By Brian S. Stewart

Senator Joe Lieberman was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2000 - six years later they effectively kicked him out of the party as a heretic. In 2000, Al Gore ran one of the most anti-gun presidential campaigns in history en route to losing his home state of Tennessee, several swing states, and the presidency. Eight years later, one of the most vocal Second Amendment advocates in the Democratic Party, Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia), is on the short list for Vice President.

My friend Chad Baus has exposed Clinton and Obama as truly unacceptable on the Second Amendment. While they have attempted to adjust to the new electoral reality (being anti-gun loses votes), their rhetoric doesn't match their hostile actions against the rights of gun owners. If paired together after a brokered convention, the so-called Democrat "dream ticket" would be a nightmare for gun owners. All of this makes the possibility of Webb on the ticket an interesting scenario.

Webb is a former Marine combat veteran, and a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan. He was a former marksmanship instructor, and reportedly takes to the NRA's range on a regular basis. More importantly, Webb is licensed to carry a concealed handgun and by his own account, he does so on a regular basis.

Gun rights advocates will no doubt recall the incident last year in which Webb's top aide was arrested trying to bring a gun into the Capitol. Stories conflict and details get murky from there, as the gun may or may not have been Webb's. BFA contributor Tim Inwood explored some of the troubling aspects of this incident and Web's reaction to it, and makes sound points.

However, Webb also used the incident as an opportunity to reiterate his support for the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms not just for hunting, but to "defend myself and my family." He also made an assertion quite at odds with most Democratic Party doctrine: "I believe wherever you see places where people are allowed to carry, generally the violence goes down."

Webb supports efforts to allow guns in national parks, and unlike his Republican senior senator John Warner (who fell back on tired "home rule" arguments), Webb signed onto an amicus brief from Congress arguing for repeal of the gun ban in Washington D.C.

Webb got to the Senate by upsetting former Senator George Allen. Had Allen survived, the presidential race would likely look a lot different on the Republican side. Webb is generally perceived as being socially conservative, but economically liberal, with a populist streak and a strong aversion to the Iraq War. But he also seems to hold the Second Amendment as one of his top concerns, not just an obligatory bullet point on his campaign website.

Does Webb's consideration on the Democratic ticket signal another step in the diminishing potency of gun control in presidential politics, or is it a case of the party shrewdly overlooking a position which they still consider to be heretical?

Brian S. Stewart is a former infantryman and an Iraq War veteran. He recently graduated from the Ohio State University with a degree in Political Science.

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