The NRA has been a powerful force in elections. But on Tuesday, NRA-backed candidates who have refused to support gun safety went down in humiliating defeat.
Voters soundly rejected the NRA and the candidates carrying water for its anti-gun-safety agenda in 2018. The gun extremists refused to change course even after mass shootings claimed the lives of dozens of innocent Americans, and their candidates suffered because of it.
The NRA was already in something of a retreat before Election Day. They significantly reduced spending on the midterm elections, cutting their donations to Republican candidates.
It did not help the NRA that the FBI, the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), and Senate investigators have opened up probes looking at the flow of Russian money to their bank accounts during the 2016 election. In that contest, the NRA gave $54 million to Republicans, with $32 million backing Trump.
Washington state held the only ballot initiative on guns, where voters were asked to strengthen their gun laws by limiting access to assault weapons. It won, with 60 percent of the vote.
On Tuesday, candidates backing gun safety won against the NRA, and they did it all over the country.
Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, has become a leading gun safety advocate.
"For the first time ever, candidates — including candidates in the toughest and most critical swing districts — boldly ran on gun safety platforms, and won," Giffords said in a statement.
"At Giffords, we locked horns with the NRA, in important house battlegrounds, and came away with victories in states like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, and Texas."
She added, "The transformation we witnessed in the House tonight—and the momentous cultural and political shift we’ve witnessed on this issue this year—will lead to safer gun laws that will save lives."
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA) had an "A" rating from the NRA, but she was one of the first Republicans ousted on election night as Democrats took control of the House.
Students who survived the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, hailed the outcome of the race. David Hogg wrote, "Bye @BarbaraComstock :)" Lauren Hogg added, "Sending my thoughts and prayers to every NRA backed politician tonight. (;"
When Hogg and his fellow students organized the March for Our Lives to advocate gun safety, they came under attack by the NRA. But on election night, the teens were triumphant.
The NRA also lost in gubernatorial races around the country. They spent over $1 million to support Republican Scott Walker, who was seeking a third term in Wisconsin, but he suffered a humiliating defeat.
They also backed Adam Laxalt in Nevada, who as the state's attorney general refused to enforce a ballot referendum on universal background checks. Laxalt lost to Democrat Steve Sisolak by 4 points.
Gun safety advocate Lucy McBath, who lost her 17-year-old son Jordan Davis to gun violence, ran against NRA lackey Karen Handel in Georgia. McBath won, and flipped the seat held by Republicans for 30 years to the Democrats.
The NRA will no doubt invest heavily in the 2020 election to keep Trump and elect other anti-gun safety candidates. But 2018 showed them that the myth of the NRA's electoral superiority has been shattered.
When people's safety and security is on the line, the NRA can — and did — lose.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.