Gun Rights Group Blasts McConnell Replacement Senator John Cornyn As Senate Leader Race Heats Up

By Victor Winston, updated on March 3, 2024

The quest for leadership in the Senate has sparked a fiery debate.

The bid by Senator John Cornyn to step into Mitch McConnell's shoes as Senate Minority Leader is under heavy attack from major gun rights groups for his gun control stance.

Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the National Association for Gun Rights have not minced words in their opposition to Senator John Cornyn's aspirations to become the Senate Minority Leader. Their criticism centers around Cornyn's perceived willingness to find a middle ground with Democrats on gun control initiatives, which they argue goes against the conservative grain.

Aidan Johnston, the Director of Federal Affairs at GOA, has been vocal about Cornyn's compromises, calling them a form of surrender. Johnston firmly believes that Cornyn's track record on Second Amendment rights makes him "wholly unfit" to lead the Republican conference in the Senate. This sentiment reflects a broader concern within these organizations about Cornyn's legislative posture on gun control.

An Unyielding Stance on Second Amendment Rights

The bone of contention with Cornyn particularly relates to his cosponsorship of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act alongside Democrat Senator Chris Murphy. This legislation encourages states to adopt "red flag" laws, which allow for the temporary removal of firearms from individuals deemed by a court to pose a threat, albeit with provisions for due process.

Despite these protective measures, the GOA and the National Association for Gun Rights see this act as an affront to gun owner rights and a blatant violation of the Second Amendment. The debate over "red flag" laws and their inclusion in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act marks a significant point of contention in the ongoing discussion about gun control and rights in the United States.

Dudley Brown, the President of the National Association for Gun Rights, has equally expressed disapproval of Cornyn's legislative track record. He singled out Cornyn's support for the Fix NICS and his involvement in passing what he described as the largest gun control bill in recent decades. For Brown and many like him, these actions are irreconcilable with the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

The Road to Senate Leadership

Mitch McConnell's recent announcement of stepping down after a historic tenure as Senate majority leader has opened up the field for his successors. At 72 years of age, Senator John Cornyn has thrown his hat in the ring, expressing a keen interest in taking over McConnell's role.

Cornyn is amongst those seen as a strong candidate for the position, commonly referred to along with Senators John Thune and John Barrasso as the "three Johns." However, the backlash from prominent gun rights organizations exemplifies the challenges he faces, not just in securing the position but in aligning his stance on gun control with the expectations of conservative voters.

Every time gun control gains momentum in Congress, Senator John Cornyn is right there, working side by side with Democrats in search of a compromise. That isn't conservative leadership; it's capitulation. In the eyes of gun owners and all those who value our liberties, Cornyn's record renders him entirely unfit for leadership in the Republican Senate.

This opposition from the gun rights lobby underscores a significant divide within the conservative community on issues of gun control and rights. Despite including due process protections, Cornyn's cosponsorship of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act has been a lightning rod for criticism.

Senator Cornyn's Path Forward: A Balancing Act

Given the significant pushback from the GOA and the National Association for Gun Rights, Cornyn's bid for leadership is fraught with ideological challenges. Positioning himself in the GOP leadership race means navigating a complex landscape where gun rights are sacrosanct to a substantial segment of the party base.

Senator Cornyn's endeavor to lead in the Senate encapsulates a broader dialogue on gun control within the Republican Party. While Cornyn seeks to elevate his role, the fervent opposition from key gun rights organizations underscores the ideological battles that lie ahead.

In summary, Senator John Cornyn's campaign to become the Senate Minority Leader, following Mitch McConnell's decision to step down, has sparked controversy among gun rights advocates. His past legislative efforts, especially regarding gun control, have drawn sharp criticism from prominent groups like the GOA and the National Association for Gun Rights.

As the GOP contemplates its future direction, the debate over Cornyn's leadership candidacy highlights the ongoing tensions surrounding the Second Amendment and gun legislation within the party.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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