NRA-Institute for Legislative Affairs

November 9, 2018

Midterm Elections Offer Motivation to Continue the Fight For Our Rights

The votes have all been cast in the 2018 midterm elections. And while the counting and recounting is still under way in some places, the overall picture that has emerged soundly refutes the breathless media narrative of a massive “blue wave” that would conclusively repudiate the Trump presidency.

Democrats, as expected, retook control of the U.S. House of Representatives, though hardly by historic margins. They also picked up about half a dozen governorships, leaving statehouses across the country nearly evenly split between red and blue.

But the more important story is that Republicans not only held but also increased their pro-gun majority in the U.S. Senate.

To be sure, we will see a renewed push for federal gun control. Anti-gun House Democrats are already announcing the many tired gun control proposals they aim to pass in the coming session. It will once again fall to NRA members and Americas 100 million gun owners to ensure that they do not succeed.

There can be no sense of complacency, as gun control activists have been quietly building the infrastructure necessary to move with lightning speed whenever an exploitable tragedy presents itself. They will certainly be ready for any chance they can get, which means pro-gun Americans must remain equally ready to oppose them.

Democrat leadership in the House, with the reliably anti-gun Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) likely to be named as speaker, will also use its investigative and subpoena authority to harass and obstruct the president and his allies wherever possible. Indeed, the most rabid of the Democrat base has already indicated it will settle for nothing less than impeachment proceedings.

Yet Democrat gains were at best in line with or slightly below historical averages for the opposition party of a first term president. They were significantly fewer, moreover, than what Republicans achieved with far less money and media collaboration against Bill Clinton in 1994 and Barack Obama in 2010.

Indeed, anti-gun and leftist billionaires, including Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, played an outsized role in funding anti-gun candidates in House races across the United States. And the media’s relentlessly negative coverage of the president was so pronounced as to amount virtually to an in-kind contribution to his political opponents. Meanwhile, 80% of NRA endorsed candidates won in U.S. House races, and 85% of NRA endorsed candidates won at the state level.

But despite the partisans and activists straining to spin the results as some kind of seismic shift in U.S. politics, or in gun control politics in particular, that is not the case. There is no evidence that favorable views of gun control were an especially motivating factor for a significant percentage of voters. The main issues in most exit polls were healthcare, the economy and immigration. 

Meanwhile, 80% of NRA endorsed candidates won in U.S. House races, and 85% of NRA endorsed candidates won at the state level.

Gun owners and Second Amendment supporters should take heart that their activism and participation preserved critical checks and balances against further erosions of their rights at the national level. 

And the expanded majority in the Senate will only further the already historic progress in reforming the federal judiciary with appointees who respect the original meaning of the U.S. Constitution, including as it pertains to the individual right embodied in the Second Amendment. With the help of the NRA and America’s 100 million gun owners, President Trump has already seated two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court with demonstrated records of taking the right to keep and bear arms seriously. It is possible he could have the opportunity for additional high court nominations before his first term ends. 

As ever, the work of protecting and promoting our most cherished rights will continue, but the state of play for Second Amendment supporters is more favorable than what many were predicting. This is not to say that there will not be substantial new efforts by to pass gun control in the coming legislative session.

We know the new anti-gun leadership in the House and in many states will come after the Second Amendment. And anywhere they try, the NRA will be there defending the rights of our members - and all Americans. As always, we will unapologetically fight to defend the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.​