Whither the gun lobby and Harry Reid?


The National Rifle Association this week announced it opposes Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court, saying she is no friend to the Second Amendment.

More important to senators running for re-election, the powerful gun lobby said it would be keeping track of who votes for Kagan and who votes against her when it calculates political endorsements this fall.

The development prompted speculation about how the upcoming Senate confirmation vote on Kagan will affect Sen. Harry Reid's standing with the gun crowd.

Reid has long been gun-friendly and was endorsed by the NRA when he ran for re-election in 2004. More recently, the NRA sent a letter to its Nevada members last summer touting all the things Reid means to gun owners.

But as for Kagan, there is no conceivable way Reid, the Senate majority leader, is going to reject a Supreme Court nominee chosen by President Barack Obama.

(Asked about this, Reid aide Jon Summers said: "Senator Reid bases his votes on whether to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court based on their qualifications.")

Reid's expected vote for Kagan won't make a difference, according to blogger Erick Erickson at redstate.com.

Erickson said he was getting "credible reports the NRA is leaning towards endorsing Harry Reid." One reason is Reid's nabbing of federal earmarks to open a $61 million gun range in Clark County.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told FoxNews.com there was no quid pro quo between the shooting park and the group's endorsement.

"There have been no endorsements. … No decision has been made," Arulanandam said. "To suggest that that's a sole consideration, no. Would that be taken into consideration? Yes."

Chris Cox, the NRA's chief lobbyist, also left the door open for a Reid endorsement in remarks to the Weekly Standard.

One reason the NRA might want Reid to remain in the Senate is that his two likely successors as Democratic leader -- Dick Durbin of Illinois and Chuck Schumer of New York -- "are the two most rabidly anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment senators in Washington," Cox said.

“Does that give concern to NRA members and gun owners all over America? Absolutely, it does.”

If it endorses Reid, the NRA will be turning its back on Republican Sharron Angle, who is another Second Amendment champion. So much so that she has suggested the constitutional right might come in handy in case citizens need to take up arms "if this Congress keeps going the way it is."