National_Rifle_Association (Photo credit: ChrisWaldeck)

This morning I received an email from Chris Cox, who spearheads the membership campaigns for the NRA.  The email referred to a recent comment by Michelle Obama at a New York fundraiser in which she asked the guests to donate to the 2014 campaign in order to push through the President’s agenda; issues which, of course, include the gun control bill that failed to pass the Senate earlier this year.  The point of Cox’s email, which also solicited a contribution, was that , “next year’s elections will decide whether you and I get to keep our freedom, or if we will lose the Second Amendment as we know it…PERIOD.”

It would be easy to dismiss Cox’s hyped-up rhetoric except that it might just be true.  And the reason I say this is that while the Colorado recall last September was a big victory for the NRA, more recent election results seem to indicate a turning of the tide.  In particular I’ll draw your attention to the close contest for Attorney General in Virginia which, although there will be a recount, will still probably end up with the election of a Democrat who ran a very explicit anti-gun campaign. Not only did he charge his opponent, State Senator Mark Obenshain, with opposing “common-sense” gun controls, he also brought such gun control heavies as Gabbie Giffords into the state to campaign on his behalf.

Virginia has been turning steadily more blue and less red but that only reflects trends that are happening elsewhere as well.  Slowly but surely the county is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, the population is increasingly urbanized or suburbanized, the percentage of households that admit to gun ownership, according to Gallup, keeps going down.  Overwhelmingly gun owners are white, male, high school but not college educated, and located in smaller cities and towns, particularly in the South.   While people who fit this profile may vote overwhelmingly Republican, the truth is that this profile just doesn’t register majorities at the polls, particularly in ‘battleground’ states like Virginia which hold the key to electoral victory every four years.

Right now, and of course things could always change, whichever party wins two of three states – Florida, Virginia, Ohio – will control the White House in 2016.  And don’t think that the GOP is in any better shape when it comes to their majority in the House of Representatives, because even though they currently enjoy a 31-seat edge (but will lose the majority if the Democrats pick up 17 seats), in 2012 they actually lost the total popular House vote.

Given those numbers, I don’t think that Chris Cox is being at all extreme when he says that gun owners could lose their 2nd-Amendment “rights.”  Of course this assumes that any change in current gun regulations, even something as feeble as Manchin-Toomey, represents an erosion of the right to bear arms.  The NRA would like everyone to believe that gun ownership is as mainstream and traditionally American as apple pie.  But what’s really mainstream is the notion that everyone has the right to vote.  And right now, the votes don’t seem to be adding up for the NRA.