As a volunteer NRA-ILA Election Volunteer Coordinator, from time to time, I will get phone calls from NRA members who have seen my name on their NRA magazine and want to know what they can do to help the NRA endorsed candidates. Working from home today, I received a call from an individual who identified himself as a member of one of Virginia’s state gun rights organizations. After stating that he saw my name and phone number on his NRA magazine, he continued that based on information he received from this other state organization about 7th District Congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and due to the fact the NRA endorsed Cantor, he was not going to renew his NRA membership. Lucky for me, I don’t pick up the phone when I don’t recognize the name or number of the caller so while I could hear the message he was leaving, I did not have to engage him.
It has been my experience that folks like this don’t want to listen to the other side, they simply want to berate people with whom they do not agree. He should have saved his breath. As a volunteer, it does not do him a lot of good to tell me that he is not going to renew his NRA membership. It’s not like I am going to pick up the phone and pass on his message to Fairfax, especially since I agree with NRA’s endorsement of Congressman Cantor.
This other state organization has had a running feud with Cantor because the 7th District Republican Committee has held its annual Republican Roundup event at the Snagajob Pavillion, which does not allow firearms on the property. Cantor has not agreed to their demands to move the event, even though it is not even his campaign that hosts the event, he simply attends, as does almost every other local and statewide Republican elected official if their schedules allow. George Allen was at this year’s event too.
But other than the fact that a local Republican organization chooses a particular location for its well attended outdoor event, and Cantor attends the event, that by the way is free to the attendees so they are not rasing any money, please tell me what it is that Eric Cantor has done in the last ten years or more that he has been in office at both the state and federal level that has earned him the label “Anti-gun.”
Cantor did cast a vote that was anti-rights when he joined a number of other Republicans in voting for an amended version of Doug Wilder’s handgun rationing bill. That was 1993. It was a bad vote that he should not have cast but it should be noted, that Governor Bob McDonnell also voted for that bill in 1993. That did not keep McDonnell from being endorsed by this same group in both 2005 and 2009. McDonnell did pledge to support repeal of the rationing law. So by a like measure, since 1993, Cantor has supported every pro-rights bill either by voting for it or signing on as a co-sponsor, that has come before him. The list is too long for this space, but if pledging to repeal a law that you voted for almost 20 years ago is enough to wipe away the past bad judgement, one would think that voting for every pro-rights bill in the last 20 years would carry the same weight. This other group also notes that Cantor voted for a bill that same year (HB2273) that according to them would have “banned self-defense shotguns.” Unfortunately, the General Assembly’s Legislative Information System only goes back as far as 1994, so I cannot access the bill to review its content.
What disappoints this blogger most is the fact that some pro-rights groups have no problem with trying to score points by working against people who have been our friend. Gun owners have a record on which to judge Eric Cantor. With the exception of the vote on handgun rationing, his record is great on our issue. Cantor voted for Virginia’s “Shall Issue” concealed handgun law. He voted for a bill that allows a person to carry a concealed weapon without a permit while in his own place of business as well as provides that the training required prior to issuance of a concealed handgun permit never expires. He voted for the “Lawful Commerce in Arms Act” that prohibits politically motivated lawsuits against firearms dealers and manufacturers. He signed both congressional “Friend of the Court” briefs supporting Heller and McDonald. In short, Cantor is a friend to gun owners.
So, what is the motivation of this other group? If you look at the web site this group has thrown up (and I’m not going to link to it), it appears money is at least part of the motivation. On more than one page of the web site, they have “Donate” links.
To put this complaint about holding an event at non-gun friendly venues in perspective, NRA has held its Annual Meeting at facilities that have had restrictions on carrying firearms. Sometimes this is unavoidable as there are only a certain number of locations large enough to accommodate the 70,000 people who attend that event. While this other group has stated they offered nine other locations that are firearm friendly for the Republican Roundup, the group does not name where those venues are located, likely because they are not in locations that would make it easy for the largest number of people to attend. The population center of this sprawling district is in the Richmond metro area. Snagajob holds a large number of people and is located in the western Henrico County, where a large portion of the district resides.
Finally, this same group hosts membership tables at gun shows, events that do not allow loaded firearms inside the venue. So, it begs the question, what is their real beef with Cantor?