As we noted last week, Fred Upton is not running on his record as a moderate Republican in the August 7 primary against Jack Hoogendyk. He is eschewing decades’ worth of big government values so he can hold onto his seat in Congress.
One of the most common stratagems employed by moderate Republicans (and Democrats) in an effort to ingratiate themselves to conservative voters is to tout their support from the NRA. In May, Fred Upton sent out mailers, which were overtly political (with his congressional Frank), that flaunted his credentials as an A rated pro-gun congressman from the NRA. The mailers reveal the vacuous content of Upton’s record, as well as the foolish electoral approach pursued by the NRA.
Most of the bullet points on Upton’s mailer contain minor legislative initiatives – ones that are supported by every Republican and a number of Democrats. He has not exhibited any unique leadership on these issues more than several hundred other members. The only consequential issue that he boasts is his cosponsorship of a bill to allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry across state lines. The problem is that he supported the wrong bill.
The bill Upton is referring to is H.R. 822, sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL). This bill passed Congress last November with support from 272 members, including all the NRA-backed Democrats. The problem with this bill is that it undermines the states that have some form of “Constitutional Carry” – those states that don’t require a permit in order to carry. H.R. 822 would require a travelling gun carrier to hold a permit in order to benefit from the reciprocity law. This would disqualify many concealed gun carriers from states like Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana. The better bill is H.R. 2900, sponsored by Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA), which recognizes the concealed carry laws of those states. Upton is nowhere to be seen on that bill.
This is not exactly a pro-gun record that is worth spending thousands to communicate to your constituents. Yet this is what it means to be an A-rated member from the NRA.
Here is Fred Upton’s real record on guns, courtesy of Gun Owners of America:
* Brady waiting period. Fred Upton was one of the few Republicans to vote for the Brady Act — a law which imposed a five day waiting period on gun owners before they could buy a handgun (November 10, 1993). This law also imposed a background registration check on all guns, meaning that the FBI now gets the names of every single person who buys a gun through a dealer.
- Semi-auto ban. Rep. Upton supported Bill Clinton’s crime bill which contained a ban on more than 180 types of semi-automatic firearms (August 21, 1994).
- Warrantless searches and seizures. Every gun owner knows that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is one of the biggest abusers of gun rights in the country. Nevertheless, Fred Upton voted for a bill — aptly numbered HR 666 — which would give the ATF a green light to search for and seize the weapons of gun owners in violation of the Fourth Amendment, as long as agents were acting in “good faith” (February 8, 1995).
- Anti-gun CDC research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Gun owners have long-suffered from politicized researchers who use taxpayer funds to produce biased studies aimed at undercutting the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. Regardless, Rep. Upton supported a Democrat amendment to continue funding anti-gun research by the CDC (July 11, 1996).
- Lautenberg gun ban. Amazingly, Fred Upton voted to disarm millions of gun owners for life for small (misdemeanor) offenses in the home — “offenses” as slight as spanking a child or yelling at a spouse. This lifetime ban, in certain cases, can even be imposed without a trial by jury (September 28, 1996).
- Gun Free Danger Zones. Upton voted to impose a half-mile wide disarmament zone around every school in America. While these “gun free” zones have been ignored by criminals, they have discouraged teachers and principals from protecting children, and in some cases, even threatened to penalize them breaking the law in order to protect students (September 28, 1996).
- Banning private firearm sales. Fred Upon supported legislation that would have banned the private sales of firearms at gun shows, unless buyers submitted to background checks that would effectively give the FBI a gun owner registration list (June 18, 1999).
- Supporting UN gun control. Congressman Upton has opposed various efforts to keep the United Nations from imposing gun control upon the United States. (Upton’s four anti-gun votes against defanging the UN were cast in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2005.)
- Supporting an expansion of the National Parks gun ban. Upton voted to greatly enlarge National Park Service lands, and thus, expand firearms restrictions into millions of additional acres of land (March 25, 2009).