U.S. Congressman Mark Kirk greets the crowd in
Wheeling, Ill. as he accepts the Republican nomination
to run for the U.S. Senate seat, on Tuesday Feb. 2, 2010.
(AP Photo/Lois Bernstein)
Don, both candidates suck! I am so sick of these damn RINOS! I am not sure what I will do at this point."
--Sean Horton of The Militant Marksman
Illinois gun owners were unhappy but unsurprised as the Illinois Senate primary races concluded last night with victories for Alexi Giannoulias (D-Scylla) and Mark Kirk (R-Charybdis). Neither candidate is a friend of gun rights; Giannoulias is best known for his personal friendship with Barack Obama and the highs and lows his political career has absorbed from his family's bank, while Kirk will always be infamous among gun rights activists for his attempt to revive the Clinton "Assault Weapon Ban" four years after its sunset provision brought it to an unmourned end.
In short, there is no credible pro-gun candidate in the race for the Senate seat currently held by Roland "Tombstone" Burris (D-Blago). This creates a deadlock on the issue; either man could gain an immediate advantage over his adversary by changing his position on guns--if, and only if, he could find a way to make the change credible. That might be easier for Giannoulias, who has no voting record and has not made gun control a central issue, than it would be for Kirk. But there is no indication that either man is contemplating such a step; more likely, gun rights will be treated by both campaigns as a fringe issue, with Kirk demanding that gun owners vote for him in order to further weaken the Democrat majority in the Senate and Giannoulias telling the Brady Campaign that even if Kirk is reliably anti-gun, they still need him in the Senate to shore up the Democrat numbers and ensure that Harry Reid remains the Majority Leader.
"Re-evaluate. Gun rights, gay rights, womens rights, fiscal conservatism, and leave gamblers alone."
--Matt from suburban Chicagoland
There is more than a grain of truth in both arguments, but both sides will try to add a grain of sugar or two to make them go down more easily. Anti-gun activists will essentially be told that no gun control is coming out of the U.S. Senate in the foreseeable future unless something drastic changes, so Giannoulias shouldn't have to campaign on gun control and alienate the bitter clingers "downstate." Gun rights activists will hear--repeatedly--that since gun control is dead on a federal level, they should stop worrying about what Mark Kirk will do as a Senator and think of what a stronger Republican Senate caucus will do--because as we all know, putting Republicans in power restores gun rights, except when it doesn't, and if Kirk somehow made a credible stand against gun control, he could no longer reach out to the all-important Chicago voter.
Can any of those arguments persuade gun owners that either man is the one they want voting on legislation or confirmation of federal judges? No one seems certain. On election night, some stated that they would simply ignore the issue of gun rights, evaluate the candidates' stands on other issues, and vote accordingly. Some vowed never to vote for Mark Kirk as a matter of principle, but stopped short of declaring their vote for Giannoulias. And some, being completely honest, admitted that they simply had no idea what they would do in November.