Almost immediately after President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, conservatives started spouting trumped up claims that she would take away everyone’s guns, even though there is no evidence that her views on the Second Amendment differ from right-wing Justice Antonin Scalia. Yet while conservative media tells armed Americans to be very, very afraid of Kagan and oppose her at all costs, the nation’s largest gun lobby is backing away:
Conservative activists who focus on the judiciary say the NRA is very protective of its win-loss record in political fights and is loath to undermine its powerful reputation with a losing effort against Kagan. […]
“While they put effort into it, it hasn’t been a full-throated effort,” [right-wing operative Curt] Levey said of the group.
He said the NRA is used to focusing on legislative battles over gun control and “they know that that Kagan’s going to be confirmed.
“They’re worried about their won-loss record,” he said. […]
[I]t has not waged the intensive grass-roots campaign that some conservative activists had hoped for. These activists believe the NRA is also reluctant to strain relations with Democrats such as Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who often side with gun owners in legislative fights.
If all the NRA cares about its batting average, than it should have never spoken on on Kagan in the first place. Last year, the gun lobby embarrassed itself by opposing Justice Sotomayor — the first time in its history that the NRA spoke out against a Supreme Court nominee. Although a handful of senators flirted with voting against Sotomayor because of her record on guns, the NRA’s unprecedented action ultimately swayed no votes.
Meanwhile, gun lobby groups like the NRA have pumped up both their membership and their apparent “win” ratio by fighting against entirely imaginary threats — spouting conspiracy theories about how the Recovery Act is a secret plan to take away all guns, and encouraging gun enthusiasts to stockpile weapons before Obama takes them away.
No doubt when Obama leaves office — and none of these threats have actually materialized — the NRA will claim “victory” and use the opportunity to fundraise. In the meantime, however, lawmakers on Capitol Hill should ask whether they need to keep caving to the NRA when the NRA itself doesn’t think that it has the mojo to fight and win a hard battle.