[Posted Monday, September 10, 2012, at 12:30 p.m.] Gun Owners of New Hampshire (GO-NH), the NH state organization that serves as the NRA’s official state affiliate, went out of its way to give low grades to a large list of pro-gun election candidates (see: http://gonh.org/uploads/515/2012__Primary_Voters_Guide_2nd_Edi.pdf), in spite of the NRA itself giving them “A” grades and endorsing them for election.
The NRA graded only those candidates who have a contested primary. Because we are especially familiar with them, we looked at the legislators on that NRA list who serve as Directors or Advisors of Pro-Gun New Hampshire (PGNH) — people who are well-known as respected and successful Second Amendment supporters, and in fact activists, in the NH legislature. The NRA agreed, as shown by the "A" grades and endorsements for election (see: http://www.nrapvf.org/grades-endorsements/2012/new-hampshire.aspx). We then compared the NRA’s grades for those people against GO-NH’s grades. Here is what we found:
Senate District 6 — Sam Cataldo: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “C.”
Hillsborough District 5 — Bill O’Brien (Speaker of the House!): NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “C+.”
Hillsborough District 6 — John Hikel: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “B+.”
Hillsborough District 7 — Moe Villeneuve: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “A-.”
Hillsborough District 37 — Andy Renzullo: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “C+.”
Hillsborough District 37 — Jordan Ulery: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “B.”
Merrimack District 9 — Ken Kreis: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “C.”
Rockingham District 13 — Dave Welch: NRA “A”/Endorsed; GO-NH “C.”
While John Hikel, Moe Villeneuve, and Jordan Ulery didn’t fare too badly, why did the others receive “C” or “C+” grades from GO-NH? And note that there are quite a few other candidates who, while they’re not PGNH Directors or Advisors, were also ranked much lower by GO-NH than by the NRA.
To focus on two of the above names in particular:
Ken Kreis is one of the five Directors of Pro-Gun New Hampshire (PGNH). He’s the former president of the New Hampshire Wildlife Federation and a co-founder of Bowhunters Wildlife Management Association of New Hampshire; he’s also the former publisher of the GO-NH newsletter. In the NH legislature, he’s a member of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee who, last year, presented and successfully defended Jenn Coffey’s Constitutional Carry bill, HB330, on the floor of the House, served as the House chair of the Committee of Conference on SB88, and had the courage to “blow the whistle” on the state senator who torpedoed HB330 for shameful personal reasons (see: http://pgnh.org/rumor_confirmed_why_senator_boutin_killed_constitutional_carry). The NRA’s recent 2012 primary election guide graded him “A” and gave him the NRA’s endorsement. GO-NH gave him a “C.”
David Welch is one of the six Senior Advisors of PGNH. He has served in the NH legislature for 24 years, many of them as Chairman of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which has jurisdiction over firearms legislation. He has consistently sponsored, co-sponsored, and promoted pro-gun legislation. In the year 2000, GO-NH took offense because he promoted the legislation that became RSA 650-C:1, “Negligent Storage of Firearms.” That law (see: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXII/650-C/650-C-1.htm) provides for, at most, a violation (less than a misdemeanor) when somebody leaves a loaded gun where a child can misuse it, but only under the most extreme circumstances: if the gun is used recklessly, or to threaten, or to commit a crime; or it’s “negligently or recklessly” discharged; and the owner is truly careless or “grossly negligent” in leaving a loaded gun where a child under 16 is “likely to be present.” The law makes even more exceptions, such as for self-defense, or if the child has received gun safety or hunter safety training. GO-NH ignored the fact that Welch did heroic work to substitute that minimal bill for a much more punishing anti-gun bill, which called for a felony charge under much looser conditions. The legislature needed something, and Welch called in favors and pulled strings to give them the least harmful bill. But GO-NH ignored this and gave him low grades. This year the NRA graded Dave Welch “A,” and gave him the NRA’s endorsement. GO-NH gave him a “C.”
In addition to all of the above, GO-NH gave candidate for Governor Ovide Lamontagne a grade of “C-,” while the NRA graded him “A-.” (See our previous article, http://pgnh.org/nhfc_smears_ovide_and_others_with_their_election_guide, for a link to, and quotations from, a debate in which Ovide truly demonstrated his allegiance to Second Amendment principles.)
We hope you will ask the NRA why their own state affiliate organization, GO-NH, has contradicted them so badly. Contact the NRA Political Victory Fund (the part of the NRA that issues the grades) at http://www.nrapvf.org/contact-us.aspx.
Bottom line: If you want to know where your candidates stand, review their voting records (if they’re incumbents running for reelection) and talk to them. Don't depend on so-called report cards that are based on personal issues rather than facts.