It has often been said that today’s Republican Party is controlled by the National Rifle Association. But New Hampshire Republicans actually nominated a congressional candidate on Tuesday who is somehow to the right of the nation’s leading gun group.
Eddie Edwards, a former town police chief who boasted of endorsements from Rudy Giuliani and Rick Santorum, won Tuesday’s primary for the open 1st District House seat. He will face Democrat Chris Pappas, a member of the powerful state executive council, in November. Pappas would become the Granite State’s first openly gay member of Congress; Edwards would become the state’s first black U.S. representative.
But prior to winning the nomination, Edwards appealed to fringe gun groups, promising to oppose policies supported by the intransigent NRA. While Donald Trump, the Republican Congress, and the NRA have blocked almost every meaningful gun-violence proposal, even they backed a 2018 measure to make modest improvements to the federal instant background check system which licensed vendors use to ensure they are not selling fire arms to dangerous criminals.
Eddie Edwards isn’t just opposed to this bipartisan “NICS Fix.” According to his candidate questionnaire for the white-supremacist-tied Gun Owner of America, he would support a total repeal of the background check system created by the 1993 Brady Bill.
In a video on his campaign site, Edwards explains his absolute fealty to gun rights.
“I absolutely support the Second Amendment,” he says. “There are two things that are required to maintain liberty, and freedom, and independence — an that’s property and the Second Amendment.”
Opposition to background checks isn’t the only extreme gun position Edwards takes on the questionnaires issued by fringe gun groups. He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools (with limited exceptions), to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.
While New Hampshire has relatively lax gun laws, Edwards would seem to be running against the tide on this. Earlier this year, the Republican governor in neighboring Vermont signed new gun control measures. A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases. And in 2016, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) lost re-election in no small part because of her refusal to vote for the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey expanded gun background checks bill.