You have to look pretty hard to find good news for Second Amendment advocates in this week’s elections, but there were a few bright spots amidst disappointing results in places like Virginia, where Democrats took back complete control of the state legislature. 2A activist Daniel Francisco, who was the named plaintiff in a pre-Bruen lawsuit challenging New Jersey’s carry laws, was elected mayor of Englishtown Borough in Monmouth County this week; a big win for gun owners in the Garden State.
The new team sweeping into Englishtown!
Keep an eye on our humble borough. We will be making huge waves very soon!
— Daniel Francisco (@DFrancisco7) November 8, 2023
In Loudon County, Virginia only one of the two school board candidates endorsed and financially supported by Everytown for Gun Safety won their election bid, with at-large candidate Anne Donohue winning 53% of the vote while her fellow anti-gunner Erika Ogedegbe could only collect 46% of the vote in the Leesburg District.
In Massachusetts, gun owners sent a pro-Second Amendment Republican to the state Senate, which means that the GOP now has four of the forty seats in the upper chamber. Rep. Peter Durant defeated Democrat Rep. Jon Zlotnik for the seat in a special election, flipping a district that had been in the hands of Democrats for decades.
Durant, who received an endorsement from former Gov. Charlie Baker, ran on a platform that emphasized economic development and addressing the influx of migrants that is pushing the state’s emergency shelter system to the brink. Durant said voters “don’t want the illegal immigration situation to continue,” and said that he wants to prevent Massachusetts from being a “costly magnet state,” according to State House News Service.
Durant made waves over the summer when he filed legislation to repeal Massachusetts’ unique “right to shelter” law. The law, signed by former Gov. Michael Dukakis in the ‘80s, guarantees shelter for homeless families and pregnant women.
Durant was also a vocal critic of the sweeping gun control legislation passed by the House last month.
“When the listening tours were going on, when we were having the informational sessions, when this bill was being written, we were all told that the legal gun owner is not the not the target here. We’re not going after them,” Durant told NBC10 Boston at the time. “But it certainly seems to be that that’s exactly what we’re doing.
On today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co, Gun Owners Action League director of public policy Mike Harris joins the show to provide some insight into the race. As he details, Republicans can rightfully celebrate flipping a seat but the real win for gun owners came during the special election’s primaries. While Durant and Zlotnik caucus with different parties, the two are actually in agreement on 2A issues. Both of them voted against the sweeping anti-gun legislation that was approved by the House last month, and Harris says GOAL declined to issue an endorsement in the special election because they were okay with either candidate winning.
Zlotnik will remain in the House, where pro-gun Democrats like himself are an endangered species, but Durant’s elevation to the Senate means there’ll be another special election for his newly vacated House seat. That’s a golden opportunity to add a fresh voice in support of Second Amendment rights, and Harris is hopeful that the slate of candidates vying to replace Durant will be equally as good on the issue as he’s been.
Another bonus for gun owners is having Durant in the Senate as that chamber begins work on a gun bill of its own. When we last spoke to Harris he reported that the Senate isn’t expected to take up the issue until January at the earliest, which gives Duran time to take his new seat at the table before any legislation is unveiled to the public. Durant’s transition to the upper chamber isn’t going to be enough to turn what’s likely to be a bad bill into something that GOAL can support, but Harris did share with Bearing Arms that the scuttlebutt around the Senate at the moment is the bill will be much more narrowly focused that the sweeping new restrictions imposed on gun owners by H 4139, and hopefully Durant will be able to leave his imprint on the bill as its being drafted.
You can check out the entire conversation with GOAL’s Mike Harris in the video window below, and I’ll be reaching out to both Senator-elect Durant and Rep. Zlotnik to invite them to join me on a future edition of Cam & Co.