Outdoor Life Online Editor

NEWTOWN, Conn. -  George W. Bush’s second term as president caps a long list of Election Day victories by candidates who share the values of hunters and shooters, setting the stage for a period of sportsmen-friendly leadership in Washington D.C.

“With pro-gun leadership in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, we’re very optimistic about our prospects for protecting 2nd Amendment freedoms and hunting traditions, and advancing legislation to protect firearms makers and sellers from frivolous lawsuits that threaten their businesses,” said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Tuesday’s newsmakers include:

  • Net gain of four pro-gun seats in the U.S. Senate with gains in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and South Dakota, and a loss in Colorado. An important highlight was South Dakota’s ousting of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, who supported the poison-pill amendments that prevented passage of the lawsuit immunity bill (S. 1805) that would have blocked junk lawsuits against firearms manufacturers.  

  • Of the 251 candidates endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the U.S. House of Representatives, 241 were elected.  

  • The 109th Congress will begin with 235 members given an “A” rating by the NRA. Twenty-seven are rated “B,” 15 rated “C,” 17 rated “D,” 138 rated “F,” and 3 have no rating.

In state ballot initiatives, anti-hunting proposals were defeated in Alaska and Maine, and citizens overwhelmingly passed a measure guaranteeing the right to hunt, fish and trap in Louisiana.

But it was Ohio that proved to be the epicenter of sportsmen’s influence on the 2004 elections. In a tight presidential race that came down to the Buckeye State in a winner-take-all finale, Ohio gun owners apparently gave Bush the votes he needed for reelection. Early indications from exit polls showed a solid majority of Ohio sportsmen voted for the President. In Ohio and nationwide, heavy sportsman participation validated the efforts of the Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Fund’s Vote Your Sport campaign.

Both Bush and Senator John Kerry had avidly courted votes from hunters and shooters. A recent survey by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation showed the wisdom of those efforts. In Ohio, 75 percent of sportsmen were considered “likely voters,” according to the survey, and a majority said it was essential for a candidate to share their views on hunting and fishing. For many, gun rights were a top concern.

Most, however, remained unconvinced by Kerry’s staged waterfowl hunts and other campaign theatrics intended to win their favor.

“Kerry couldn’t hide a 20-year anti-gun, anti-hunting career behind 20 weeks of hollow pandering. We thank America’s sportsmen for their vigilance and for voting their sport,” said Painter. ÂÂ