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There's more to this than meets the eye.

Here we have an Alaska Democrat, Bert Cottle, who claims the NRA erroneously put a check mark next to his name in their candidate ratings. He believes he should have had an A rating.

The NRA says they never received his questionaire on firearms and the Second Amendment, hence the question mark. He is not an incumbent, so he has no former ratings.

He also claims the NRA should have taken into account that, when he was chief of police in Valdez, he signed transfer paperwork for machineguns.

And that he and his wife are lifetime members of the NRA and consistently support the Friends of the NRA banquets (confirmed by the Valdez Friends of the NRA Chairman Steve Revis).

After his complaints, the NRA changed his rating from "?" to "AQ", meaning he he gave a favorable A rating on the (Q) questionaire. The NRA says they did this based only on his response to the questionaire. This was only two days before the election.

He further complains that his Republican opponent, who had an A rating, had banners made for his campaign signs touting the NRA rating, giving him an edge, when both should have had the same rating.

But here's the problem.... Did Cottle really deserve an A rating? Especially since he's citing his actions as chief of police in Valdez signing federal paperwork for machinegun transfers.

As it turns out, he's cherry picking his response. He failed to mention that while he was chief of police, he testified in that capacity before the Alaska House on House Bill 351 that citizens should not be able to carry concealed handguns. Oops. If averaged against his signing federal paperwork he probably would have wound up as a C rating.

Both examples are moot, though, since the NRA does not look into the past of a candidate who has not held political office before. They base their rating only on the questionaire.

The questions for Cottle are: Why do you not believe law-abiding citizens should carry concealed handguns; and why, if you are so solidly pro-gun, are you a Democrat, especially in a political unit that is mostly made up of Republicans? (Which is probably a much bigger factor in his loss than he's admitting).

As for the NRA, some here have said that the ratings for questionaires do not make up for lack of actual voting record.

True, but they can give an idea of where someone sits on the issues, if they're honest. Only in this case criticism of the questionaire has merit because of his past anti-concealed carry action. This candidate believes his past actions of signing federal paperwork, his NRA lifetime membership and his support of the NRA should be taken into account. I would hope that if the NRA ever did, they would also have tripped up his testimony before the Alaska legislature. It's probably this need for detailed investigation why the NRA isn't doing this. Also, we've seen wolves in sheep's clothing before, like when Daddy Bush joined the NRA as a lifetime member before his first election bid, yet still managed to sign executive orders against gun owners, and then resigned when it suited him to do so. Or Bill Clinton, who was highly rated by the NRA in Arkansas when he needed gunowner support, then crapped on gunowners when he got into the White House. And if the NRA had to rely on local NRA groups, would those groups give full disclosure, meaning since this candidate was a lifetime member and strong supporter, would they have reported his past actions against concealed carry?

I can appreciate the difficulty in how the NRA does ratings. There are pitfalls to the process. This is why ratings must be as accurate as possible and be based on actions directly related to support of the Second Amendment. The criteria needs to be razor sharp, no fuzzy edges, and be black and white, with no shades of gray, and be as honest as possible. Because in this case, I believe we had a wolf in sheep's clothing trying to get into office.
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