Gun List’s Election Story Strikes Nerve

The caller wasn’t happy. In fact, he was madder than the proverbial hornet. The subject? Come on, what else can get people so worked up? It was politics, of course — specifically, the election coverage featured in the Dec. 3 Gun List.

Between expletives and demands for me to cancel his subscription, the caller objected to the picture of President George W. Bush on the cover and the subsequent analysis of how the November elections might affect the firearms world.

“You put his picture in there because you’re a (expletive) Republican!” the caller said. “You’re all (expletive) Republicans!” (Actually, though I’m pretty conservative, I’m not a member of either major political party. However, I couldn’t convince the caller.)

But after the ringing in my ears stopped, I figured the call provided a good excuse for explaining the rationale behind our election coverage. This isn’t meant as a defensive response. It’s just an explanation of how we approached a hot topic.

Gun issues have always been hot topics among candidates, voters, special-interest groups and Gun List readers. So obviously, as a firearms magazine, we had to cover election results because they have far-reaching effects on our industry and individual firearms-related pursuits, whether it’s hunting, collecting, target shooting, or buying and selling.

Our coverage did not reflect an endorsement of one candidate. It reported what happened and analyzed how the events might affect gun issues in America. As Associate Editor Fred Baumann pointed out in the lead paragraph, “Gun rights played a significant part in the ‘moral values’ voters identified as the most important factor in the Nov. 2 election.” Baumann went on to quote the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Fox News, conservative columnist George Will, a national on-line column and others.

The report detailed how gun issues helped shape the new Congress and state governorships, and analyzed how firearms organizations helped sway the vote.
Not exactly a propaganda piece, was it? Rather, it was a solid, comprehensive look at the most important news the firearms industry has seen in years.
And yes, of course, we put Bush’s picture on the cover. Why? Because he won the election, of course. As I pointed out to the angry caller, we also put Sen. John Kerry’s picture on the cover, albeit smaller. (Hey, he did lose, after all.) Would we have run Kerry’s photo larger had he won? Absolutely. But again, he lost.

If any part of the story might be perceived as slanted, it’s the headline: “Bush Win Huge for Gun Rights.” However, that statement doesn’t stretch the truth. The general perception among gunfolk is just that the Bush win is very important for gun rights. A Kerry victory would also have been important in the impact it probably would have had on gun rights, although perhaps not “important” in a good sense.

OK, now that I’ve come across as being defensive by defending Gun List’s editorial choices, how do we really feel about the election? If you polled our staff and writers, most would say they’re thrilled about the Republican victory. And I believe Bush was the best candidate in terms of gun rights.

Like many voters, I did not think much of Kerry’s attempts to paint himself as a shooter and hunter. But didn’t he shoot trap at a gun club in La Crosse, Wisconsin? Didn’t he go on a pheasant hunt in Iowa and a goose hunt in Ohio? Didn’t he utter some now-infamous quote about hunting deer while crawling around on his belly?

Who cares?

Kerry’s Senate voting record on firearms issues paints the true picture, and that picture has been decidedly anti-gun.

So wether you voted for Bush or Kerry, or consider yourself a Democrat or Republican, I hope you understand why we covered the election as we did.

If you enjoyed and learned from the coverage, let us know. If you hated it or have criticisms, let 0us know, too.

Just wait a few days until the ringing in my right ear stops.