Tough congressional battles on issues like carrying concealed weapons across state lines and the Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor are helping gun-rights advocates separate politicians who are merely strong supporters from those who are 100 percent allies, reports the Houston Chronicle. “This is a very new sifting process that’s going on, and a very significant one,” said Wendy Long of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network. With the 2010 election season under way, gun-rights groups are ramping up the pressure on lawmakers to side with them on every vote.
Among Republican senators with significant Hispanic constituencies who chose to oppose Sotomayor when the NRA did were Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn of Texas, John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona, and John Ensign of Nevada. Hutchison and McCain face 2010 GOP primaries against 100 percent pro-gun opponents. Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said the pressure is “an example of the NRA overreaching.” He asserted that, “Extremists have hijacked the NRA agenda. I think most people are in the middle ground on guns. I think the NRA is getting pushed to the extreme.”