Tuesday, August 06, 2019

More gun control remains unlikely soon; Republicans are more dependent on rural voters who once backed Dems

The renewed debate about guns is driving the political parties to their rural and urban corners.

The Democratic presidential candidates all favor more gun control in the wake of mass shootings, bt "The once-in-a-generation realignment that’s underway makes it less tenable for Republicans to support significant gun control, as the GOP has become more dependent on rural voters who once backed Democrats," James Hohmann of The Washington Post writes in "The Daily 202."

His object example is the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly, which ended a special session on gun control "after 90 minutes without even considering a single bill" proposed by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who called the session in response to the May 31 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, he writes. Republican leaders, "after initially suggesting that they might be open to doing something, decided to refer all the bills to a bipartisan commission for study and then reconvene after the November off-year elections, in which all 140 legislative seats are on the ballot. This has made gun control a top issue in these local campaigns."

Virginia has become a mainly suburban state, and “Republicans are headed for extinction in the suburbs if they don’t distance themselves” from the National Rifle Association, oil-and-gas executive Dan Eberhart, a big Republican donor, told Bloomberg News. “The GOP needs to make several moves such as universal background checks, eliminating loopholes and banning military-style assault weapons to neutralize the issue. Otherwise, Republicans will lose suburban voters just like they did in the midterms on health care.”

Hohmann notes, "Groups that push more restrictive gun laws have become bigger counterweights to the NRA in recent years, thanks to infusions of cash from billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the gun lobby’s internal struggles and increasingly sophisticated tactics. This has liberated some Democrats in areas where the issue is still marginal to stake out more liberal positions. But the NRA maintains structural advantages in the Senate – where rural votes have disproportionate influence."

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