A Time for Choosing

by
posted on December 21, 2023
Republican Debate stage
Rebecca Blackwell/AP

So, the long, poll-infested, cable-news-hyped reality show we might as well call the pre-season of the American political drama is ending. Now come the caucuses and primaries, front-loaded in this cycle. This time, the two major parties might each have a candidate for president of the United States far enough ahead in March or early April to seem inevitable. Even so, they won’t officially be their party’s nominees until the parties go into their conventions this summer. The Republican National Convention is scheduled for July 15-18 in Milwaukee, Wisc.; the Democratic National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 19-22 in Chicago, Ill.

Before Election Day comes on Nov. 5, a lot more will have happened. To name two, the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show (greatamericanoutdoorshow.org) will take place from Feb. 3-11 in Harrisburg, Penn. It will have a lot to offer voters as they consider the candidates’ positions on our freedom, as will the NRA Annual Meetings (NRAAM.org) in Dallas from May 16-19. Still, the Great American Outdoor Show will take place after Iowa holds its caucus on Jan. 15, and the NRA AM might occur after nominees are all but official. (For a list of each state’s primary or caucus dates, go to the Federal Election Commission’s list: fec.gov/resources/cms-content/documents/2024pdates.pdf)

Also, a few states hold their primaries in February. South Carolina has its primary on Feb. 3 for Democrats, and for Republicans on Feb. 24. Nevada has its primary on Feb. 6 and Michigan has its on Feb. 27. But the biggest date on the primary calendar is March 5, when 14 states, including Arkansas, Texas and Virginia, will hold primaries for Democrats and Republicans.

March 19 will see five more primaries—Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio—so almost half of the states will have voted by March 19. If either party still does not have an obvious lead candidate, the next big date on the primary calendar is April 2, when voters in five states will weigh in—Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Some states have separate dates for presidential and congressional primaries, but most of the primary voting wraps up in June. If you compare the dates to previous presidential campaign seasons, you’ll notice that many of the primary dates have been moved up to give the two major political parties clear leaders before their conventions.

Trump, Kennedy, Biden
As of November, former President Donald J. Trump was leading in the polls to win the Republican nomination. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (left) was running as an independent candidate. President Joe Biden looked certain to again win the Democratic nomination as he continues to seek gun bans and more restrictions on this fundamental right.


The Clamor and Confusion
That’s the official calendar for the process, but the pre-season of this political contest has hardly been a Marquess of Queensberry rules-type affair. 

But we’ll leave those issues to competing media outlets to claw apart. As this magazine and organization is focused on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights, we must first point out several veiled truths the mainstream media won’t tell anyone about these primaries and the upcoming November election.

First, there is no doubt that the future of our rights, as protected by the Second Amendment, is effectively on the ballot this November. This is especially true of the presidential election but is also true of congressional and local elections.

This leads to the next important point most in the media won’t tell you: Despite all the mainstream-media spin to the contrary, the NRA is non-partisan. The NRA Political Victory Fund (NRAPVF.org) rates candidates based on politicians’ votes, candidate questionnaires and other documentable criteria. The information is made public for everyone to see. Though the Democratic Party’s official platform has come out against our Second Amendment freedom, and even though the head of its party, President Joe Biden, wants gun bans and a long list of gun-control laws that everyone can see on his campaign website, the NRA rates each candidate—including Biden—with the same criteria. If they are always for our freedom, they can earn an “A;” if they are not, and depending on the severity and frequency of their opposition to Second Amendment-related issues, they can be downgraded, all the way to the point of earning an “F.” This is true for all candidates regardless of whether an “R” or “D” is next to their name. In sum, NRA-PVF simply and openly rates candidates according to their positions.

This is important, as not that long ago, party affiliation on the federal level didn’t tell you how a candidate would most likely vote on our Second Amendment freedom—and that is a place America needs to get back to. None of our fundamental rights, as protected in the U.S. Constitution, should be partisan issues. Indeed, congressional candidates, especially those running in more-balanced districts, should take note of how many Democrats have bought guns since 2020; this will, hopefully, mean that anti-Second Amendment politicians will face serious primary challengers who are not into infringing on this right.

In the presidential election—if Biden does indeed secure his party’s nomination—his full-frontal attack on this basic human liberty should cost him votes. Indeed, Biden’s opposition to Americans’ Second Amendment rights has no nuance. He wants gun bans. He has called the American firearms industry the “enemy.” He wants restrictions on carrying firearms for self-defense. He wants to allow activists to use frivolous lawsuits to sue gun makers and dealers out of business and much more.

Biden’s possible competitors for the Democratic nomination all seem to want to put the same list of gun bans and infringements into law. As this was written, the political joke was that California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) was waiting to see if Biden literally has the legs to make it into and through another primary season. Newsom, of course, wants everything Biden does, only more—he has proposed starting the process to add a gun-control amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (known as “RFK Jr.”) wanted to compete with Biden for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but for various reasons, he was dissuaded from doing so. He announced that instead he’s running as a third-party candidate. As he looks for a lane to the White House, RFK Jr. actually said on X: “Let me be clear on guns. As President I will respect the Second Amendment, and I will not try to take away people’s guns.” But, in 2018, he called the NRA a “terror group.” When on FOX News’ Sean Hannity Show last October, he didn’t seem to remember making that statement, but he did. Clearly, the Left is afraid that he’ll be a spoiler. In what looks to be an attempt to reduce his impact on the election, YouTube has even been taking down interviews with him.

On the Republican side, former President Donald J. Trump and the rest of the candidates for the Republican nomination all have strong records supporting our Second Amendment freedom.

Former President Trump, for example, gave us U.S. Supreme Court nominees—and nominees for judges on lower federal courts—who have applied the U.S. Constitution as it was written. This has been fundamental to the wins we now see occurring for freedom in the courts. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a constitutional carry bill for his state. During the first GOP presidential primary debate last August, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that she’s against gun restrictions known as red-flag laws. When she was governor, Haley did strongly defend this constitutional right.

As magazine print schedules impact the timeliness of this analysis, this article won’t go into the nuances of the Republican candidate’s positions. But still, voters must also consider the close balances of power in the U.S. Senate (which is barely controlled by Democrats) and the U.S. House of Representatives (which is slimly controlled by Republicans).

One thing to note is that, as the primary season begins, law and order is on voters’ minds. Last fall, Rasmussen found that 49% of voters trust Republicans more to handle crime and law-enforcement issues, while 38% trust Democrats more. Meanwhile, 14% of voters said they are not sure. Given the revolving-door justice that many “woke” legislators and district attorneys have given to communities from San Francisco to New York City, this should bode well for advocates of freedom. But elections can be personal and complicated, so it's important to be informed and talk to others.

As you go to the polls for these primaries and in November, it is worth remembering that, as this is a cornerstone issue, the Second Amendment is a freedom indicator; candidates’ views on the Second Amendment are revealing about much more than just this fundamental right.

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