This article appeared online at on Tuesday, September 26, 2017:

At a rally Monday night, Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore pulled out a gun and likely sealed his victory on Tuesday against - candidate Luther Strange.

At the climax of his speech, Moore said, “It’s been very hard for my wife and myself to weather two, nearly three, months of negative ads that we couldn’t answer with money because we didn’t have it. Ads that were completely false. That I don’t believe in the Second Amendment.”

And then, as Moore said, “I believe in the Second Amendment,” he pulled from his pocket a small-caliber revolver to prove his point. The audience erupted with cheering and applause.

The presented a much more modest appraisal of Moore’s show of support for the Second Amendment. USA Today: “Alabama Runoff Candidate Roy Moore pulls gun out at Campaign Rally.” Associated Press: “Roy Moore Pulls gun on Stage at Rally on Alabama Election eve.” The Hill: “Roy Moore Pulls out gun While Speaking at Rally.” ABC News: “Ala. Senate Candidate Pulls out his gun During Campaign Rally.”

In a race where Moore has not only faced a significant financial disadvantage — his opponent has outspent Moore by 300 percent — he also has been challenged by President and Vice-President Mike Pence, who made special appearances for his opponent in the closing days of the campaign. Most of the $11 million that poured into Strange’s campaign came from the Senate Leadership Fund under the direction of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Moore also had to fight against the National Rifle Association (NRA), which threw its support to Strange.

Nevertheless, Moore’s show of support for the Second Amendment might just have sealed the election for himself. Harry Enten, writing for the poll analyst website FiveThirtyEight, noted that “Moore has led in every reliable public poll of the runoff” but that Moore’s advantage might be fading following the onslaught of negative ads by his opponent.” Wrote Enten, “To maintain his lead from the first round, Moore will need to continue to rack up huge margins in rural areas [of Alabama].”

Alabama already enjoys some of the least-restrictive gun laws among the several states, with no permits of any kind required to purchase a firearm. Alabama is an open-carry state, while those who wish to carry concealed must obtain a permit first. This no doubt resonates with precisely the people Moore was appealing to — the same people who no doubt also understand the political ties that Strange has with the establishment.

That same cohort also no doubt took when President Trump stumbled during his 90-minute prepared speech on Friday in support of Strange. Speaking off-script, Trump admitted that “I’ll be honest, I might have made a mistake.”

The final tally of the runoff for the candidate to face a Democrat for the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in December won’t be known until Tuesday night. But if Moore wins, as expected (Real Clear Politics shows Moore ahead by 11 points), then it’s more than likely he’ll beat the Democrat running against him. No Democrat Senator has been elected from Alabama in 25 years.

Moore’s win will also ensure that Senate Majority Leader McConnell will be reminded almost daily that, despite his best efforts, a real anti- conservative from Alabama — one that he opposed with millions of dollars — will challenge him at every turn. Moore not only understands the Second Amendment and isn’t afraid to show his support for it in public, he also understands the and its limits to federal power that McConnell, who was first elected to the Senate back in 1985, seems often to have forgotten.

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