In my heart of hearts, I’d like to wish each and every one of you a happy and prosperous new year. However, my head knows that 2009 may well be a very unhappy new year for those of us who honor the traditional view of the law-abiding citizen’s right to keep and bear arms.
Yes, 2008 gave us a significant victory in the form of the Heller Decision. Finally, after more than two centuries, the Supreme Court figured out that our Constitution recognizes that gun ownership is an individual right. On the other hand, the gun control movement was quick to seize upon vagueness within the Heller Decision as vindication for a renewed and intensified effort to suppress free exercise of that individual right.
Our cause wasn’t helped at all by the Republican Party’s failure to field a presidential candidate who could beat an, inexperienced, philosophically-flawed candidate like Barack Obama. Now we’re saddled with a President who has spent most of his short political life campaigning and very little time actually legislating. So, for the next four years, the presidency will be most likely be defined by endless photo-ops with kids, tales from the links, and vapid sloganeering from behind the presidential seal. Meanwhile, the affairs of state will be the province of the Democrats’ first family, Bill and Hillary.
I wish I could be optimistic about the future of gun rights in Illinois, and the nation as a whole, but I cannot. On the federal level, you can fully expect the “Clinton cabinet” to swiftly place “reasonable” administrative controls on the civilian transfer and sale of firearms. More regulations on retail gun dealers and more intrusive questions on Form 4473 are two ways to make gun ownership less attractive and more expensive. Expect pushes for additional taxes on ammunition and new calls for bans of popular sporting arms and, of course, a constant browbeating of law-abiding firearm owners from administration officials and the liberal press.
The situation in Illinois is less predictable, but equally dangerous. As I write this message, the state is in a deep, unprecedented, and embarrassing constitutional crisis. On a positive note, the legislature will be very distracted resolving the “Blagojevich problem” and, thus, may be unwilling to get involved in a gun control fight. On the other hand, incoming freshman legislators combined with a new senate leadership pose a number of unknowns. Therefore, a legislative “sneak attack” against gun owners is a distinct possibility.
Indeed, times appear bleak for gun owners, but preservation of our freedoms is not a lost cause. The most valuable asset in the long battle to protect our rights has been you, the law-abiding firearm owner. It is comforting to know that you can be counted on to come through when times get rough. You’re always there to make phone calls to legislators, attend rallies, confront gun controllers, and make monetary donations in support of gun rights. As much as your support is appreciated, we all wish it wasn’t necessary. But times being what they are, you may find yourself being called into action more often than in the past. Your moral support is a key buttress to our lobbying operations on the ground in Springfield. You are why we fight so hard.
The ISRA has a very aggressive campaign plan for 2009. This campaign plan includes the introduction of legislation designed to blunt any attempts to curtail your rights with so-called “reasonable” gun control. The campaign also includes new grassroots initiatives that will project your power into the politics of your local communities. This unprecedented organizing effort will have, as its centerpiece, the 2009 edition of the Illinois Gun Owners’ Lobby Day (IGOLD) with follow-on local and state-wide events throughout the year. You will play an important role in this effort. Early next year, you will be receiving a campaign toolkit for launching and maintaining the renewed grassroots effort. Keep your eyes open for the toolkit and other important ISRA communications that will be coming your way in the very near future.
In the mean time, I would like you to take the opportunity this New Year’s weekend to spend some time with your families and reflect upon the freedoms you’ve enjoyed as citizens of the United States. Please keep our valiant troops in your hearts and minds as they advance the cause of righteousness around the globe. The next three weeks may very well be the last days of America as we have known her. Freedom will only be preserved if you, as individuals, raise your voices, stick to your principles, and jealously guard the traditions that released this land from the shackles of colonialism and transformed it into the shining beacon of freedom that it is today.