The "biggest election disaster in nearly 15 years."
That's how the National Rifle Association described the potential of losing either House of Congress to Democratic control in election materials issued to its membership before November 7th.
In its magazines and in member communications leading up to the 2006 midterm elections, the NRA repeatedly warned "Freedom's 2nd Army" that its "pro-Second Amendment House of Representatives" was at stake. And in a direct-mail appeal sent out in July 2006, the NRA's Political Victory Fund declared that "you and I could be headed for our biggest election disaster in nearly 15 years" if Democrats were to take control of one or both Houses of Congress.
The November 2006 pre-election "Choose or Lose" edition of the NRA's America's 1st Freedom magazine warned members that, "Our recent victories and future legislative objectives are at risk this Election Day if gun owners don't rally and go to the polls to support the true friends of the Second Amendment."
To the NRA, true friends means Republican friends, as can be seen in the NRA's endorsements when faced with two "pro-gun" candidates. In its traditional pre-election frenzy, the NRA's magazines featured profiles of Republicans George Allen, Rick Santorum, and Conrad Burns, touting them over Democrats Jim Webb, Bob Casey and Jon Tester, respectively. The gun group was particularly hysterical about the need to defeat to Jim Webb. "This November, it is critical that all freedom-loving Virginians vote to re-elect Sen. George Allen," the NRA admonished voters in the Old Dominion State.
The gun lobby's allegiance to Republicans also shows in its political giving. In 2006, the NRA's PAC gave 85 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates while Gun Owners of America gave 100 percent to Republicans. In addition, Republican activists Grover Norquist, David Keene, and Ollie North serve on the NRA's board of directors in addition to current and former Republican Members of Congress.
Just one week before the November 7th election, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre summed up the urgency of the situation in an "exclusive" interview with the pro-gun publication The New Gun Week. Warned LaPierre, "Gunowners need to get to the polls because the battle lines are drawn....[W]e need to erect a barricade to protect the Second Amendment from the handgun control crowd....They want to unleash the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] on every law-abiding gunowner in America."
The NRA's lock-step directive to vote Republican appeared to have little effect on election day--or maybe their self-proclaimed prowess in turning out pro-gun robo-voters is less absolute than popularly perceived.