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Guns for votes? Politicians load up 2nd Amendment to fire up supporters

March 18th, 2014 9:14 am by Tony Casey

Guns for votes? Politicians load up 2nd Amendment to fire up supporters

An attack on Second Amendment freedoms is the reason politicians are saying their campaigns are using gun giveaways as a way to drum up support during election season.

Joe Carr, a Republican member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and current U.S. Senate hopeful from Lascassas, in Rutherford County, just wrapped up a contest in which a Beretta 92A1 will be given away. Carr’s website directed entrants through the entering process before immediately popping them onto a page where they were asked if they’d like to make a donation to Carr’s campaign, as is the common end of other political gun giveaways.

Carr said the donation page following the giveaway sign-up page on his official site are not correlated, regardless of how close they are in proximity, but he does recognize an uptick in donations recently. He said about 45,000 people signed up for the contests, but couldn’t share how many immediately made donations.

What prompted Carr’s gun giveaway, he said, was when Italian arms company Beretta just announced plans to open a manufacturing plant in that section of Tennessee, moving away from less-gun-friendly Maryland. Carr’s contest for the Beretta ended over the weekend, and he hoped it might give him a push in the right direction against incumbent Republican Lamar Alexander. Recent polls showed Alexander to have a significant lead over Carr.

He believes that for pro-gun Tennesseans, he’s the stronger pick of the two.

“I don’t know that Lamar’s ever sponsored or put forth legislation that’s helped gun owners,” Carr said.

Though the polls are not favorable, Carr called them a “lagging indicator,” and that they’ve been doing extremely well lately.

A release on his website showed Carr to not only be taking aim at Alexander, but also those in the nation’s capital.

“With this giveaway, I not only want to celebrate Beretta, but also our sacred 2nd Amendment rights,” Carr said. “We’re locked in a struggle with (Barack) Obama, (Harry) Reid, (Nancy) Pelosi, and the rest of the liberal elites in Washington for our 2nd Amendment rights. That’s why I decided to take the fight to them by introducing legislation in Tennessee to nullify any of Obama’s unconstitutional gun-grabbing laws.”

This kind of contest isn’t completely unique. Carr said he got the idea from Georgia Republican Senate candidate Paul Broun, who is in the middle of his second giveaway. The winner of Broun’s contest will go home with either a Colt Marine Corps 1911 pistol or a Colt Magpul 6920 Flat Dark Earth rifle, complete with sure-fire tactical flashlight. The two guns are displayed on Broun’s website, like Carr’s, with a close proximity to a banner saying Obama is destroying Constitutional rights.

Giveaways are fine, said Dana Barnett, co-owner of Barnett’s Guns in Hampton, as long as they’re held within the legal limits. Barnett has done just that when the business had its grand opening, giving away a shotgun.

Though she says pro-gun politicians tend to hold true to the other issues she believes in, Barnett says while Carr has her attention with a gun giveaway, she won’t necessarily vote for him without knowing his other stances.

“Our area is very pro-gun,” Barnett said. “Second Amendment rights tend to be important to us in this area.”

She recognizes the giveaway as an effective way to drum up support in such a pro-gun part of the country.

Stanley Shell of the local Unaka Rod and Gun Club agreed, saying he supports Carr’s giveaway as long as it’s done within the confines of the law for him to give it away, and the winner to receive it.

John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, in conjunction with the charity Standing with Hope announced the TFA is giving away a Kel-Tec KSG 12-gauge shotgun April 15 and said it’s something the TFA has done in the past. Standing with Hope is a charity group for people with missing limbs started by Peter Rosenberger, whose wife, Gracie, has prosthetics in place of both of her legs and is originally from Carter County.

Giving away this deluxe shotgun came about through Rosenberger, who said in his nearly 30 years as a caretaker of his wife, he’s seen a need in other caretakers to prepare themselves for the worst situations. Around 100,000 people in Tennessee suffer from Alzheimer’s, Rosenberger said, and he’s heard of many horror stories of people going to take care of people and finding loaded weapons on the counter or coffee table, and hadn’t heard of anyone trying to prepare caretakers for possible violent situations.

“This could be a problem, folks,” Rosenberger remembers saying about his concern. Since, he’s said he’s worked with groups from both political spectrums to increase the safety of caretakers, including the TFA and the AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, to raise awareness and training of people around firearms.

“We don’t want people standing there, holding a shotgun like a dead mouse,” Rosenberger said, proud to be pushing for caretakers’ ability to lock, unload and generally be more comfortable around guns.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to the gun Rep. Joe Carr gave away as a 921A, when, in fact, it is a 92A1.

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