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October 17, 2012

Educate Yourself, Others, Then Vote

The following post comes to us from Tony Mandile, a regular contributor to’s “Hunting and Shooting Opportunities” section. This article and others like it — as well as information about hunting and shooting opportunities in every state — can be found at


Educate Yourself, Others, Then Vote

#gunvote and NSSF® website help guide voters on where candidates stand on relevant issues

By Tony Mandile

#gunvote 2012

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” — John Adams

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Benjamin Franklin

The quotations above from the Founding Fathers of America still remain a stark reminder of the principles they envisioned for the citizens of this country. They thought so highly of every individual’s liberty that they included them in the Declaration of Independence and of course, the U.S. Constitution, with those in the Bill of Rights among the most essential.

Ratified in 1791, the first Ten Amendments were meant to prevent the government from treading upon those liberties the Founding Fathers set forth in writing. Thomas Jefferson wrote, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government” It is no surprise then that right at the top of the list of fundamental liberties is the Second Amendment, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The key word in the Second Amendment — infringed — means the government has no business violating our right to keep and bear arms — period. There is no hedging, no “only if” or “unless.” Recent court decisions have upheld that reasoning.

Yet despite the above, many elected or would-be candidates, at all levels of government, harbor a deep urge to infringe on the Second Amendment. Thus, if you’re a target shooter, hunter or simply someone who owns a firearm for self-defense, you should be concerned. Fortunately, there’s an option — a way to prevent that infringement.

Our Founding Fathers knew the right to vote would be of prime importance in what would become our democratic republic. They wanted Americans to choose their own elected representatives and replace them when necessary. To that end, elsewhere in the Constitution they outlined how the people elect the president, vice president and the members of Congress.

No doubt, men such as Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Adams had hopes that voters would make wise choices after carefully considering the candidates. Perhaps they deemed that an informed voter is a smart voter. If so, their perception was dead on.

With Election Day nearly upon us, the stakes are enormous, and the outcome might define how the elected administration, its appointed officials and Congress treat your Second Amendment rights for years to come. Forming an opinion on a candidate is obviously a good thing, but only if it is backed by knowing a candidate’s voting history and stated positions on issues of importance to you. In other words, know who and what you’ll vote for on Nov. 6, 2012.

More importantly, do not ever think that a single vote won’t make a difference. The worst thing any of the 100 million gun owners in America can do is not vote.

Data compiled by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) shows more than 17 million people hunt and nearly 20 million Americans participate in target shooting each year. Factoring in the probable double counting between hunting and target shooting, the NSGA estimates more than 30 million individuals take part in those two sports, and there’s likely another large contingent of gun owners who do neither. In several key states, such as Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, sportsmen comprise about 20 percent of the population that is capable of making a significant impact at the polls.

Considering about 130 million voters went to the polls in the 2008 presidential election, the votes of 30 million sportsmen can make a mega difference in the outcome on Election Day. If the majority of them decided a single vote was meaningless, however, the totality of those single uncast votes would make that true.

When it comes to the Second Amendment and other issues, NSSF is out front in an effort to inform voters through its #gunvote website. The site provides links to polling places and voter information for all 50 states, a guide to political races in voter districts and the latest polls. There’s also a wide array of news articles and blogs written by people who are following the campaigns and providing perspective.

To reach the most people possible with its effort to inform more voters, the NSSF encourages Twitter users to tag their election-related tweets with #gunvote and to visit the NSSF’s Facebook page.

“Not only will gun owners, hunters and sportsmen be electing a president this year, but they will be, in effect, giving the authority to the winner to make a variety of appointments,” said Steve Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer. “Understand that voting for a president means voting for the entire executive branch–ambassadors, secretaries, directors, and agency bureaucrats. He will have tremendous influence over the judicial branch, because he can nominate judges for any vacancies that occur on the Supreme Court.” Remember, both the Heller and McDonald Supreme Court decisions were decided by just one vote. The next president could end up appointing several new justices. Justice Sotomayor, appointed President Obama, voted against the Second Amendment in the McDonald case.

Thomas Jefferson knew the inherent dangers of uninformed voters when he said, “Who will govern the governors? There is only one force in the nation that can be depended upon to keep the government pure and the governors honest, and that is the people themselves. They alone, if well informed, are capable of preventing the corruption of power and of restoring the nation to its rightful course if it should go astray. They alone are the safest depository of the ultimate powers of government.”

Jefferson was referring to you, the voter who can make a difference. Let #gunvote provide the information to help you cast an informed vote.

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