The Races That Will Decide Our Freedom

by
posted on September 25, 2022
Joe Biden, Pelosi Illustration
Art: Brad Walker

It was the sort of shocking incident that changes elections. Videos show a man—43-year-old David Jakubonis of Fairport, N.Y.—pushing through an audience at a campaign event in a parking lot in upstate New York. Some of the people in the audience were standing on the bright July afternoon; others were seated on fold-up metal chairs. After navigating the crowd, Jakubonis simply stepped up onto the “stage,” which in this case was a flatbed trailer, and was suddenly right in Rep. Lee Zeldin’s (R-N.Y.) face. 

Rep. Zeldin, who is a candidate for governor of New York, had been giving a stump speech on the recent rise in crime. He was pointing out that legislative changes, such as cash-free bail policies, have allowed violent criminals to quickly return to New York’s communities—other states, such as Illinois, New Jersey and California have also eliminated cash-bail systems.

Jakubonis had a weapon attached to the index and middle fingers of his right hand. It looked like black brass knuckles with two sharp triangular points jutting above the knuckles. He raised the weapon toward Zeldin’s throat while repeatedly shouting “you’re done.” 

Zeldin grabbed Jakubonis’ right wrist and they grappled and fell on the stage with Zeldin on top.

The audience stood in shock. Several people who were close to the stage helped subdue Jakubonis. Someone grabbed zip ties they’d been using to hang campaign posters. They used these to restrain Jakubonis until law enforcement took him away a few minutes later.

Zeldin was soon back on his feet with the microphone in his hand. He told the audience: “This is why we need law enforcement to keep us safe.”

Perhaps Zeldin’s military experience helped him keep his composure. He is currently a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, and, while he was active duty, he took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Whatever the case, not long after the attack, Zeldin tweeted: “The attacker will likely be instantly released under NY’s laws.”

This claim felt, for a few short hours anyway, like it must be hyperbole—things couldn’t be so bad anywhere in America that someone could walk out of jail right after attacking a congressman in front of an audience, right? Evidently, in New York, they can. That evening, Jakubonis was allowed to go home.

Jakubonis was rearrested on federal charges the next day, as he’d allegedly attacked a federal official, but the fact that the state tried to let him walk so fast put an exclamation point on what many have been saying is behind the recent rise in crime, such as soft-on-crime, woke prosecutors—many backed by George Soros’ deep pockets—prisoner releases during the pandemic and those no-cash-bail policies.

But there is more to this telling series of events.

Just a few hours before Jakubonis allegedly attacked Zeldin at a campaign event, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) campaign put out a statement announcing each stop of Zeldin’s statewide bus tour. It read: “On Thursday, July 21, 2022, ‘Big Lie’ Lee and his entourage of extremists kick off the statewide ‘MAGA Republican’ Bus Tour, which will make stops across the state peddling dangerous lies, misinformation, and his far-right agenda. At stops during the tour, Zeldin will be joined by top anti-abortion advocates, NRA enthusiasts, and a cast of extremist groups.”

Hochul did denounce the attack on Zeldin, but she didn’t use the opportunity to talk about the policies that allowed his alleged attacker to go free just hours after being arrested. A month before, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s “may-issue” licensing regime on concealed carry in NYSRPA v. Bruen, Gov. Hochul blamed guns, law-abiding gun owners and, indeed, American freedom for the rise in violent crime. Hochul even called an emergency session of the state legislature to pass new restrictions on lawful carry, as if armed citizens defending themselves is the problem.

Hochul, like many politicians who want gun bans and more restrictions on the citizens’ right to bear arms, also doesn’t want to pay a political price for her crime policies. The last thing such politicians want is a law-and-order election, but that is just what this must be.

Our Freedom Hangs on the Balance of Power
The U.S. Constitution requires that one-third of the U.S. Senate and the entire U.S. House of Representatives run for office every two years. So, all 435 seats of voting members in the House and, this year, 34 seats in the Senate are in play this Nov. 8. That’s a lot of races, which is part of the magic of this republic, as it is difficult to impossible for a large number of these politicians to become recognizable national figures. This helps keep politics local, which is fundamental to the genius of the U.S. Constitution—a document that was just 4,543 words long before amendments (that’s less than twice the size of this article).

Pelosi illustrationRight now, the U.S. Senate is split 50-50 (Vice President Kamala Harris (D) has the constitutional authority to break tie votes). Control of the House is separated by just a few seats. As this was going to print, RealClear Politics averages of polls forecast that 47 seats in the Senate leaned Republican, 46 seats leaned Democrat and 7 seats were “toss-ups.” RealClear Politics was also reporting that, according to averages of polls, in the House, 223 seats leaned Republican, 179 were leaning Democrat and 33 were toss-ups. 

A lot of issues are affecting these local elections, but the Second Amendment has been a major issue in this election cycle.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of citizens’ right to carry this freedom outside of their homes in NYSRPA v. Bruen last June, politicians who argue government should be able to take away this specifically protected freedom whenever and however they see fit issued apocalyptic warnings about the consequences of the ruling; they did this despite the fact that the 43 states that already had “shall-issue” licensing and/or constitutional carry did not experience negative consequences when they got out of the way of law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives, under Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), passed a gun-ban bill that, if U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) had the votes, would surely get President Joe Biden’s (D) signature. The legislation would ban popular semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns, along with so-called “large-capacity” magazines. 

Clearly, our Second Amendment rights are on the ballot Nov. 8. We only have the space to cover some of the closest races in this article, so we’ll focus on the “toss-up” races that will decide the U.S. Senate, but you can see NRA Political Victory Fund Grades and Endorsements (NRA-PVF) for many more candidates at NRAPVF.org. Once there, you can create and print your own voting guide.

Also, it should be noted that, in the eight U.S. Senate races highlighted here, the Republican candidates are pro-freedom, whereas the Democrats, to various degrees, are opposed to our Second Amendment rights. This, for the present, has unfortunately become how things largely are with House and Senate races, but the NRA-PVF grades and endorsements remain nonpartisan, as does the NRA. No part of the U.S. Bill of Rights, least of all the right that protects all the other rights, should be partisan. Hopefully, the legions of new gun owners who vote, if not the very nature of American freedom, will help convince more politicians to treat this freedom as the nonpartisan issue it is—if so, this freedom will be much safer from those who wish to control the American people.

ARIZONA
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) has been careful about talking about his gun-control agenda. Even the left-leaning magazine The Atlantic reported that it’s a “surprise” that Kelly did not publicly take part in the push for the gun-control bill titled the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” (although he ultimately voted for it). They said this is “especially [surprising] considering that he is running this fall for a full Senate term in a race that could determine whether Democrats maintain control of the chamber.”

Kelly, however, has long used his involvement with the gun-control group Giffords, which he co-founded, to advocate for gun control by proxy while trying to distance himself from the debate by calling himself “pro-Second Amendment”—this duplicity is all through his 2014 book Enough.

Kelly’s Republican opponent, Blake Masters, is pro-freedom. 

Clearly, our Second Amendment rights are on the ballot November 8.

“The Second Amendment exists to protect our families, our communities and our country,” said Masters. “Ultimately, it’s about resisting tyranny. The Second Amendment safeguards all the other Amendments. Without gun rights, before long, you have no rights.

“But our rights are under assault. Democrats spend a lot of time and money talking about ‘gun control.’ Really they just want to take away your guns so they can control you. We can never let that happen. I’m a gun owner (a few dozen times over), and as your senator I will fight to protect and expand your Second Amendment rights by: supporting nationwide concealed carry, eliminating or restructuring the ATF, repealing the National Firearms Act (NFA), opposing every kind of federal firearms database or gun registry and opposing ‘red-flag’ laws. You have my word: I’ll lead with a ‘from my cold, dead hands’ mentality,” said Masters.

GEORGIA
As this was being written, football-star-turned-political candidate Herschel Walker was in a tight race with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.). And, in this case, Warnock doesn’t want to talk all that much about his anti-Second Amendment positions.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported last June that “Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock is a co-sponsor of a new proposal in the Senate seeking a ban on semiautomatic weapons, such as AR-15 rifles, but he hasn’t been advertising that fact.”

Still, the gun-control group Giffords makes Warnock’s position clear: “We need Senator Warnock in the Senate—and with our gun safety majority on the line, it’s more important than ever that Georgians send him back to Washington DC [sic] for a full term.”

Walker, meanwhile, has been making law-and-order a big part of his campaign. When asked about a mass-murder in Texas, Walker said, “The solution to this problem is not more laws taking away our Second Amendment rights or preventing Americans from defending themselves and their families. [A]s a country we need to get serious about developing better and more-effective mental-health programs.”

NEVADA
The contrast in this race between Adam Laxalt (R) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) is stark. Cortez Masto joined Schumer and others to reintroduce the “Background Check Expansion Act,” legislation that would turn normal, law-abiding American gun owners into potential felons by criminalizing virtually all firearm transfers that occur without a background check, even if the individuals are lifelong friends or, depending on the case, family members. This bill is also a first step toward creating a backdoor national gun registry; in fact, such a law would not even be enforceable unless the federal government creates a gun registry.

Cortez Masto also joined Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to introduce the “Keep Americans Safe Act,” legislation that would ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

Laxalt, in contrast, was endorsed by the NRA-PVF and has a long track record of opposing gun control. Last spring, he said, “I am honored to once again earn the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and to receive an A+ rating for my record of supporting our Second Amendment liberties. The NRA’s members have been on the front lines protecting our constitutional rights and I am proud to stand with them.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE
The New Hampshire primary was scheduled for Sept. 13—after this issue was headed to the printer—but the incumbent, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), is worth a mention. Hassan has been endorsed by the gun-control group Giffords. In 2016, Giffords spent $2.5 million to help elect Hassan. Hassan wound up winning by just 1,019 votes out of more than 738,000 cast. Whoever the Republican candidate turns out to be, this will be one of the elections that determines control of the U.S. Senate. New Hampshire voters will help to decide whether a majority of senators stand behind our Second Amendment rights.

NORTH CAROLINA
In this race for the U.S. Senate, Cheri Beasley (D) has been endorsed by the gun-control group Giffords, whereas the NRA-PVF gave Ted Budd (R) an “A” rating.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for North Carolina’s 13th congressional district, Budd voted for concealed-carry reciprocity legislation; he voted for legislation that would protect veterans’ Second Amendment rights; and he voted against bans on popular semi-automatic rifles, such as the one Pelosi pushed through the House last summer.

Budd is also one of just two members of Congress who actually owns a gun store, the second being Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga). Budd is the owner of ProShots, a gun store and shooting range in Rural Hall, N.C., which advertises a wide range of firearms education programs, including concealed-carry classes and AR-15 semi-automatic rifle classes.

Beasley, in contrast, is a former judge who thinks the way to stop criminals is to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. She supports a number of Joe Biden’s radical gun-control proposals, including gun and magazine bans, mandatory gun-storage laws and so-called “universal” background checks.

OHIO
J.D. Vance (R) gained notoriety from his best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy. He even spent a lot of time on CNN after the book’s release explaining the views of small-town, middle America after President Donald J. Trump won the 2016 election, in part, by appealing to overlooked, working-class voters. Early in his campaign, Vance said, “I will fight the gun grabbers, whether they’re federal bureaucrats enacting regulations or multinational companies punishing people for exercising their rights.”

In contrast, his opponent, failed presidential candidate Tim Ryan (D), has been endorsed by the gun-control group Giffords and supports virtually all of their priorities. Ryan calls his move to favor gun control an “evolution.” While early in his career, he supported some pro-gun policies, just this summer he voted for a ban on semi-autos and standard-capacity magazines, “red-flag” gun-confiscation schemes and expanded waiting periods for law-abiding Ohioans.

Ryan has become, as Vance said, a “gun grabber.”

Meanwhile, Vance explained to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, when discussing a report that the Biden administration has nearly one billion records of firearms purchased by American citizens, that this “database is ultimately a back door to a gun registry in this country ... . This is ultimately about destroying the Second Amendment … .”

shumer illustrationPENNSYLVANIA
Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) has been a vocal proponent of our Second Amendment rights on the campaign trail. “As a proud gun owner myself, I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment and our constitutional right to bear arms for protection. I do not believe there should be any policy or law, state or federal, that prevents a law-abiding American from purchasing a gun without due process and fair adjudication,” said Oz.

Politicians’ positions can be, of course, defined by the views of their opponents, and Oz’s opponent, John Fetterman (D), is so committed to passing a list of new gun-control laws that he has dates of “gun violence” tattooed on his arm.

Fetterman is endorsed by the gun-control group Giffords. To explain his views, he published a letter saying, in part, that the “NRA” is somehow “suffocating” members of Congress—actually, the NRA’s influence comes from its millions of members who vote. Fetterman also wrote that “the NRA would rather that a violent criminal could purchase my gun on the street, no questions asked.” Has Fetterman ever looked at an NRA publication? It is the NRA that loudly argues that we need to prosecute armed criminals and those who help criminals get guns.

WISCONSIN
When the Senate passed the flawed and rushed “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R) voted against the legislation. Because of this vote, the Wisconsin State Journal, the state’s second-largest newspaper, panned the senator in an editorial titled “Ron Johnson votes against public safety.” That’s more than spin, as there were many problems with that legislation.

Johnson pushed back by saying, “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a classic example of Washington dysfunction. Negotiated by a ‘gang’ with no committee process and no ability to offer amendments, billions in spending with a phantom pay for, and provisions that ignore constitutional rights. As a result, I could not support it … .”

Johnson has been endorsed by NRA-PVF with an “A” rating. His opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), is for a long list of new gun bans and gun-control laws. 

When asked by local News 3 last May, “Do you think the Second Amendment has any place in modern America?” Mandela first talked about his desire to make law-abiding gun owners get government approval before loaning or giving a gun to a family member or friend. Then he said things like “Congress is controlled by the gun lobby” and the “fact that you can buy a weapon of war so easily I think is kinda ridiculous.” Barnes had clearly memorized talking points from gun-control groups. If Barnes is elected, and if he has been honest about his positions on our freedom, he will vote to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights at every opportunity. 

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