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The recent defeat of gun control legislation in the U.S. Senate is just the latest round in cultural wars that attempted to reinterpret the Constitution, especially the 2
Amendment, according to the president of the National Rifle Association.
It won't be the last, David Keene told a packed room of NRA supporters at the Iowa Capitol Thursday.
“We've managed to stave off the current threat in Congress,” Keene said at a Polk County Republican Party sack lunch fundraiser. “But the war has not ended. The enemy has gone behind a hill to regroup.”
When they return, the NRA and its 5 million members will be prepared for the next fight, he said.
In addition to defending the 2
Amendment, Keene took time to defend his group. The NRA, he said, is the nation's oldest civil rights group.
“We're supporters of the 2
Amendment, the Bill of Rights and those who stand with us have our friendship,” he said.
It's that friendship, more than any money the NRA spends, that elects friendly lawmakers and helps gun owners win legislative victories.
“If money made all the differences, Nelson Rockefeller would have been president, Michael Bloomberg would be running the world … and we'd all be driving Edsels,” Keene told reporters.
Still, the NRA and its Institute for Legislative Action spent $800,000 on lobbying in the first quarter of the year. That's about $100,000 more than last year and considerably more than the $250,000 spent by Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“Money is important in politics and advocacy and advertising,” he said, “but money isn't everything.”
What candidates really want is the NRA endorsement “because there are people, a lot of people out there who trust the NRA on 2
Amendment issues, who care about those issues and who look to us for leadership,” Keene said “If we say a (candidate) is somebody you can rely on on 2
Amendment issues, there are a lot of voters that will take that and vote for that member, that candidate, for that reason. That's what they want.”
Lifelong gun owner Allyn Dixon doesn't agree. The Des Moines attorney and members of Organizing for America, the successor to President Obama's campaign organization, were outside the committee room where Keene spoke. They held placards calling for background checks and calling for Congress to take action.
“We're disappointed that Congress failed to pass background checks,” Dixon said.
He dismissed Keene's arguments against mandatory background checks and suggestions that the legislation included a “back-door” federal gun registry.
“That's the furthest thing from the truth,” Dixon said. The NRA “thinks everything is a conspiracy.”