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Anti-Gun Candidates Struggle in Primaries

By: Brenden Boudreau

For anti-gun politicians across Michigan, it was a bruising few weeks leading up to the August 7 primary.

From current State Representative Dave Pagel running for Senate District 21 in the southwest corner of Michigan, to State Rep. Kathy Crawford running for re-election in House District 38 in Oakland County, anti-gun politicians were left scrambling to explain away their voting records.

Pagel, irritated that anyone would have the audacity to question his support for the Second Amendment, took to social media to complain about the primary accountability program of Great Lakes Gun Rights (GLGR, the in-state affiliate of the National Association for Gun Rights) exposing his anti-gun voting record.

Gun owners were quick to hold Pagel’s feet to the fire for his betrayal, and he ultimately lost his primary to State Rep. Kim LaSata, who returned her GLGR survey 100 percent pro-gun and voted for a version of Constitutional Carry (HB 4416).

State Rep. Crawford also attempted to pull a shade over her anti-gun voting record by returning her 2018 Great Lakes Gun Rights candidate survey saying she would support Constitutional Carry -- after just having voted against a version of the bill just last year!

Crawford also took to social media to try to explain away her vote in the face of immense pressure in her district, attempting to hide behind a two-year-old endorsement from the establishment gun lobby and the fact that she is a gun owner (as if that somehow necessarily makes a politician pro-gun).

While Crawford ultimately won her primary by a narrow margin against pro-gun challenger Chase Turner, gun owners in House District 38 have put her on notice that they expect her to change her voting record if she returns to Lansing after November.

In House District 63, State Representative David Maturen was ultimately defeated after joining 42 anti-gun Democrats in voting against HB 4416 last June. Matt Hall emerged victorious over Maturen. Hall returned his GLGR survey 100 percent pro-gun and pledged to be a leader in the fight for gun rights in Lansing.

Gun owners are also on track to pick up a staunch ally in House District 44 with Matt Maddock coming out on top in a five-way primary. Maddock ran on a bold, pro-gun platform and was the only candidate in the race willing to sign his GLGR candidate survey 100 percent pro-gun.

These and other races across the state prove that supporting gun rights is good politics in Michigan. Again and again, candidates who ran on pro-gun platforms and returned their Great Lakes Gun Rights candidate surveys 100 percent prevailed on August 7.

Not an Isolated Incident
What happened in Michigan, it’s safe to say, is not an isolated incident.

Gun owners across the country, mobilized by their passion to fight for the Second Amendment and armed with effective tools from grassroots organizations, such as the National Association for Gun Rights, have been holding anti-gun politicians accountable coast to coast this election season.

It is no coincidence that in the West Virginia Republican primary, held to decide who will take on anti-gun U.S. Senator Joe Manchin this fall, a Congressman who voted for the “Fix NICS” gun control expansion lost to a candidate who pledged to be a pro-gun leader in D.C.

Congressman Evan Jenkins’ campaign was overwhelmed by a barrage of mailers, e-mails, and hard-hitting social media ads exposing his vote for the greatest expansion of federal gun control in recent memory.

The same thing happened in the Indiana Republican Senate primary, where two congressmen, both of whom voted for the “Fix NICS” gun control expansion, were defeated by a former state legislator without an anti-gun voting record.

The fact is, gun owners are tired of politicians mouthing generic support for the Second Amendment, only to start voting against pro-gun legislation as soon as they get cozy in office, or, even worse, voting for and vocally supporting gun control.

Election Season: Keep the Pressure On
Election season is a crucial time for gun rights activists to be involved in the political process. It is when politicians are the most sensitive to public opinion, and when they are most likely to change their behavior in response to the work of grassroots organizations.

In the weeks to come, it is vital for Second Amendment supporters to keep the pressure on “pro-gun” candidates to stand by their pledges in the face of the coming onslaught of anti-gun zealots pushing their agenda this fall. It is equally important for gun owners to denounce anti-gun politicians and those politicians who refuse to take a public position on the right to keep and bear arms.

After all, if the enemies of freedom don’t feel any pushback from pro-liberty voters, they’ll assume there will be few, if any consequences to their radical agenda if they do, indeed, succeed in taking office.

Gun owners must make it clear to elected officials in their townhalls, state legislatures, and at the federal level in Washington, D.C. that there are political consequences for voting anti-gun.

Sitting on the sidelines and expecting everything to be okay because “pro-gun” Republicans are in control is a recipe for disaster. Look no further than Republican-controlled Florida, where 67 NRA A-Rated Republicans passed one of the largest expansions of gun control in state history!

Brenden Boudreau is the Director of Field Operations for the National Association for Gun Rights, writing from Michigan. Contact him at bpb@nagrhq.org. Disclosure: In addition to his work with the National Association for Gun Rights, the author is also Executive Director of Great Lakes Gun Rights.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.