An "Eastwood" Election: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly For Gun Owners

First, the good news for gun owners coming out of Election Night. It’s been sixteen years since a Democrat’s been governor of Mississippi, and it will be at least four more before it happens again, after Republican Tate Reeves defeated the state’s Democrat Attorney General, Jim Hood. Reeves unveiled a campaign ad that tore into Hood for not supporting Castle Doctrine legislation, and that may have boosted Reeves’ support among gun owners.

Now, on to the bad news. It looks like Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin lost his re-election bid against Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear in an absolute squeaker, with the Libertarian candidate playing the role of spoiler. Otherwise it was a great night for Second Amendment supporters in Kentucky; in fact had Bevin won it would have been a total sweep for the GOP in Kentucky elections, including the Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron, who will hopefully give gun owners another strong Second Amendment voice in amicus briefs and legal challenges to unconstitutional gun laws. Bevin’s race was much tighter than most of the statewide races, which were won handily by pro-gun Republicans, and in the end a visit by Donald Trump in support of Bevin wasn’t enough to save the governor. Given the fact that pro-Second Amendment candidates won virtually every other election in the state, it seems unwise to credit gun control groups with a victory here, though Beshear is likely to push a “red flag” law in the 2020 legislative session.

Finally, the ugly. Michael Bloomberg spent millions of dollars targeting suburban moms in Virginia with a message equating gun control to safety, and it paid off, with control of both the state Senate and House of Delegates flipping to narrow Democrat majorities. The state is now in complete control by Democrats for the first time since 1994, and unfortunately that means the only thing stopping their gun control agenda is their own sense of political survival. This wasn’t the dominant victory that gun control advocates, who targeted more than a dozen suburban swing districts in the D.C., Richmond, and Virginia Beach areas, were hoping for. Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox won his re-election bid, for example, as did Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment. Democrats picked up at least 21 seats, however, and that’s all they needed to flip the state Senate.

Over on the House side, it was again a very close fight, not the blowout that gun control advocates were hoping for. The vast majority of incumbents on both sides of the aisle won re-election, and even Del. Nick Freitas was re-elected on a write-in campaign after a paperwork snafu left him off the ballot. It wasn’t a bad night for Republicans. It just wasn’t good enough.

The question now is not whether the legislature will take up Ralph Northam’s gun control proposals, but whether they’ll pass his entire slate or leave some of the more extreme measures behind, unwilling to risk their slim legislative majorities with statewide elections for Governor, Attorney General, and every delegate seat up for grabs in just two years. According to sources I’ve spoken with, Democrats seem poised to go ahead and pass all of Northam’s proposals. There’s also the real possibility that even more extreme gun control measures will be introduced by members of the new Democrat majority.

The good news is that many of these races were incredibly close. These seats are not lost forever. In two years, Second Amendment supporters in Virginia have the opportunity to elect a slate of pro-gun candidates who will undo the damage that is likely to be done to Virginians’ right to keep and bear arms over the coming months. That works starts today, and as a Virginian, I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure that our rights remain strong and secure.

I’ll be speaking with David Adams, legislative affairs director for the Virginia Shooting Sports Association on Wednesday’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. Be sure to watch or listen to get even more insight and analysis on the fight ahead, and why it matters to gun owners everywhere, not just in the Old Dominion.

Oct 24, 2021 2:30 PM ET