Eight years after the gun control issue helped keep Democrat Al Gore out of the White House, the National Rifle Association and its Republican allies are launching a new campaign to defeat Barack Obama, reports the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper contents that the issue has lost much of its political punch. however. Congress hasn’t passed major legislation to restrict gun use in 14 years. Democrats — scarred by past NRA campaigns — almost never talk about the issue anymore. Just half of Americans want tougher rules for gun sales, compared with nearly two-thirds in 2000. “The issue has been essentially removed from the political agenda,” said Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at the State University of New York.
Still, NRA leaders plan to spend millions on the presidential campaign. In 2000, had more gun owners voted for Gore in West Virginia, Tennessee, or Arkansas — all states targeted by the NRA — he would have been president. This year, gun rights groups see Obama’s past positions on gun control as an equally inviting target. Obama voted against Illinois legislation in 2001 and 2004 to ease restrictions on gun use. And in Washington, the senator opposed a 2005 bill to give gun manufacturers new protections from lawsuits. The NRA has already begun attacking Obama in its magazines. “Right now, one of the most anti-gun politicians ever to set foot in Washington, D.C., may be just one election away from the Oval Office,” NRA President John Sigler warned in the June issue of America’s 1st Freedom, which also labeled Obama a “gun-ban elitist.”