Second Wins and Losses

How the Second Amendment made out

National Review Online. November 6, 2002 9:40 a.m. More by Kopel on the 2002 election.

The Second Amendment enjoyed a good election night for Congress, a mixed night in the governors' races, and some defeats on ballot initiatives. Here are the key results:


Arkansas: Solidly pro-gun incumbent Tim Hutchinson lost to antigun Mark Pryor — although Pryor claimed to be pro-gun during the election, and so might sometimes vote in favor of civil rights.

Georgia: Usually antigun Democrat Max Cleland replaced by reliably pro-gun Saxby Chambliss.

Louisiana: Antigun incumbent Mary Landrieu faces a December 7 runoff with pro-rights Republican Election Commissioner Suzanne Haik Terrell.

Minnesota: The late Paul Wellstone was strongly antigun. Moderately pro-rights Norm Coleman is leading to replace him.

Missouri: Reflexively antigun Jean Carnahan defeated by pro-rights Jim Talent.

Pro-Second Amendment stalwarts Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Jesse Helms of North Carolina will be replaced by John Sununu and Elizabeth Dole; Sununu will always vote pro-gun, and Dole usually so, but neither will be a leader as their predecessors were. Conversely, South Carolina's Lindsey Graham will be more constructive on the issue than retiring Strom Thurmond.

Net result: Pro-rights gain of +2, with the possibility of adding one more vote in the Louisiana runoff. This brings the Senate to rough parity on most firearms issues.


Alaska: Antigun Democrat Tony Knowles succeeded by pro-gun Frank Murkowski.

Arizona: Pro-gun Jane Hull succeeded by antigun Janet Napolitano.

Hawaii: Moderately pro-gun Republican Lingle has a small lead for this open seat.

Illinois: Antigun incumbent Republican George Ryan succeeded by extremely antigun Democrat Rod Blagojevich.

Kansas: Moderately anti-gun Governor Bill Graves succeeded by thoroughly antigun Democrat Kathleen Sebelius. Concealed-carry and preemption legislation will be stifled.

Maine: Retiring pro-gun Governor Angus King succeeded by anti-gun Democrat John Baldacci — so fervently anti-gun that he criticized armed pilots legislation.

Maryland: Energetically antigun Parris Glendening succeeded by moderately pro-gun Bob Ehrlich. This should provide Marylanders with a respite from repressive new laws, and ensure that existing laws are administered more fairly.

Massachusetts: New Governor Mitt Romney is mildly pro-gun, and should be better than retiring Jane Swift.

Michigan: Moderately pro-gun John Engler replaced by solidly antigun Jennifer Granholm.

New Hampshire: Antigun Jeanne Shaheen replaced by pro-gun Craig Benson.

Oregon: Pro-gun Kevin Mannix narrowly trails mildly antigun Ted Kulongoski to replace outgoing antigun leader John Kitzhaber.

Pennsylvania: All that prevents new Governor Ed Rendell from being the most anti-gun governor in America is Rod Blagojevich's victory in Illinois.

Rhode Island: In a surprise, outgoing antigun Republican Lincoln Almond is replaced with moderately pro-gun Republican Ronald Carcieri.

Vermont: Strongly pro-gun Democrat Howard Dean is leaving to run for president. Pro-gun Republican Jim Douglas won a plurality, but not a majority, over mildly antigun Democrat Douglas Racine. The Vermont house will select the next governor, in a secret ballot, and is expected to pick Douglas.

Wisconsin: Pro-rights incumbent Republican Scott McCallum defeated by energetically antigun Jim Doyle, thanks in part to a Libertarian who polled 10 percent.

Net result: Progress in small or medium population coastal states (Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island) is outweighed by losses of medium and large states in the interior (Arizona, Kansas, Illinois [bad to terrible], Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin).


The two antigun incumbents defeated by pro-gun candidates was Minnesota's Bill Luther and Ohio's Tom Sawyer. The only pro-gun incumbent to lose was Republican Heather Wilson of New Mexico, while Henry Bonilla of Texas is trailing, with 3/4 of precincts reporting.

For open seats, the pro-gun candidate won in Alabama 3 (over a moderately pro-gun Democrat), Arizona 1, Colorado 7 (with 3/4 of precincts reporting, in a tight race), Florida 24, Georgia 12, Indiana 2, Michigan 9, Michigan 10, Michigan 11, New Hampshire 1, New Jersey 5 (replacing antigun Republican Marge Roukema, who retired), Ohio 3 (moderately pro-gun), Oklahoma 4, Pennsylvania 6, Pennsylvania 18, and Utah 1. The pro-rights candidate lost in California 18 and Maryland 2.

Net result: The pro-rights majority in the House of Representatives grows wider by a notable margin — large enough to make a difference in a tough vote.


South Dakota had an initiative to explicitly inform juries in the criminal cases of their right to acquit a technically guilty defendant, if they thought the charges were unjust. The initiative lost in a landslide, thus stopping a potential nationwide movement that would have been of great help to people accused of violating repressive gun laws, or of using firearms against attackers.

Oklahoma voters rejected an initiative to make it more difficult to put hunting, fishing, and trapping initiatives on the ballot — a proposal aimed at heading off initiatives against outdoor sports.


In the states, California and Illinois poised for more restrictions on gun rights. The Michigan and Pennsylvania legislatures should block most of their governors' proposals, although progressive legislation is impossible to enact. Concealed carry reform can't become law in Kansas or Wisconsin, but remains viable in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Ohio.

In Congress, the Homeland Security Department bill will pass the Senate during the lame-duck session, along with language allowing commercial airline pilots to carry handguns. The House Commerce Committee has already passed legislation, using its power to regulate state or local efforts to interfere with interstate, to stop abusive anti-gun lawsuits by municipalities. The Senate might pass such a bill during the lame-duck session, or in the next Congress. The 1994 Clinton ban on cosmetically incorrect firearms (so-called "assault weapons") sunsets in September 2004, and efforts to renew or expand it face an uphill battle.

Bush judges who respect the Second Amendment will take their place in the federal judiciary, including, perhaps, the replacements for Supreme Court Justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Stevens. Should Rehnquist (pro-Second Amendment), O'Connor (mildly so), and Stevens (strongly opposed) all be replaced by rights-conscious justices, the Supreme Court may be ready for a ruling to explicitly reaffirm its line of cases recognizing the Second Amendment as an individual right, albeit one subject to a wide variety of regulation.

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