In December 2000, lame duck President Bill Clinton blamed Al Gore's defeat on American gun owners: "I don't think there is any doubt that, in at least five states I can think of, the NRA has a decisive influence."
For once, Bill Clinton was right. And our opponents today still know that gun owners make a difference in elections. That's why President Obama's supporters have launched a massive misinformation campaign, claiming that the lack of major federal gun control legislation is evidence that Obama respects your rights.
In reality, the only reason our opponents haven't made progress is that gun owners have put in decades of hard work at the ballot box. Yet although public support for gun control has reached all-time lows in national surveys, Obama has circumvented Congress to pursue his anti-gun agenda.
In the courts, Obama has nominated two anti-gun U.S. Supreme Court Justices — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — at a time when the individual right to keep and bear arms recognized in the Heller and McDonald decisions hangs by one vote.
At the United Nations, Obama's State Department has joined in Arms Trade Treaty negotiations that were rightly abandoned by the Bush administration. Drafts of the treaty at a conference this summer included language that could have imposed gun and ammunition registration in the United States.
Closer to home, Obama appointed anti-gun Eric Holder as U.S. Attorney General. Within a month of taking office, Holder made Obama's intentions clear, explaining the administration's desire "to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons."
Later, Holder oversaw an illegal gun registration scheme that requires all licensed firearms dealers in the Southwest border states to report certain long gun sales to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Under Holder's watch, the BATFE executed its disastrous "Fast and Furious" gun smuggling operation, encouraging the flow of thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels and resulting in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. One of Holder's subordinates even proposed using the information gathered from the deadly operation to advocate for the registration scheme.
More recently, in a campaign speech, Obama attacked semi-autos more broadly. Asked to clarify Obama's comments, Press Secretary Jay Carney replied, "[Obama] does support renewing the assault weapons ban." The leaders of Obama's party have been equally open about their anti-gun agenda, with the 2012 Democratic Party platform calling not only for the gun ban but for new restrictions on gun shows. At the party's convention, Sen. Dianne Feinstein promised to introduce an "updated" version of the ban.
Fortunately, gun owners have a better choice. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney supports our right to keep and bear arms and believes that the Second Amendment is, in his words, "essential to our free society". He has said that he will nominate people to his cabinet who believe that the Second Amendment guarantees the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding Americans. And he will oppose any United Nations or international efforts to restrict our constitutional freedoms.
Gun owners and hunters would have another important voice in a Romney administration: vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. I can tell you personally that Paul Ryan is the real deal. He's earned an "A" rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund for his strong support of gun owners' rights since he went to Congress in 1999. And who do you want next in line for the presidency: gun ban sponsor Joe Biden, or a lifelong deer hunter who mowed lawns to save up for his first shotgun?
There could hardly be a clearer choice between two tickets, two visions of America and two different futures for gun owners and the Second Amendment. That's why informed gun owners must bring their friends, family and like-minded Americans to the polls November 6. If we do our part as we have before, this fall it will be Obama instead of Clinton blaming the NRA and gun owners for an electoral defeat.
Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action and serves as the organization's chief lobbyist. Please give your support to NRA-ILA today. And to ensure that your friends and loved ones are registered to defend freedom on Election Day, visit TriggerTheVote.org.