Friday, June 24, 2016

Democrats return to gun control as an issue for elections; gun-rights advocates say 'bring it on'

Democrats have largely avoided gun control as an election issue for the last two decades, but not now. "The massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, followed by Republican Donald Trump’s calls for new firearms restrictions, have convinced Democrats that they can run and win on the issue of gun control this year," but Second Amendment advocates remain confident, Ed O'Keefe and Isaac Stanley-Becker report for The Washington Post.

"The worst mass shooting in U.S. history ... has pushed advocates for greater gun restrictions to new levels of outrage: and shifted public opinion "in favor of new laws," the Post reports, and Trump is bucked his own party by initially "pushing for restrictions and putting some fellow Republicans in a sticky position with their constituents back home. All of it has prompted Democratic lawmakers to conclude that, even with little hope for legislative action this year, an election looms this fall that could change everything."

Rural areas will be battlegrounds. "The issue is expected to be a subject of attacks on Republican candidates in at least two House seats in upstate New York, five swing districts in Florida and districts in rural states such as Colorado, Iowa and Kansas," the Post reports, citing unnamed Democratic aides. "In the Senate, where Republicans are defending 24 seats, Democrats expect that gun-control-themed messages will resonate with swing voters in Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

On the other hand, "Gun-rights advocates predicted that their supporters would participate heavily in an election in which guns are a major issue," the Post reports. "Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association and a former NRA lobbyist, said that the Democratic Party’s shift away from rural areas means that 'It can write off 100 million gun owners and that its strength doesn’t lie with the gun issue. And it can beat up on those 100 million people and bet that that will work in their benefit. We shall see, but what I know from history is that gun owners care deeply about their firearms and their rights to own them.'"

"Democrats have lost the rural vote so they are no longer worried about trying to appease these voters," Bill Bishop writes for the Daily Yonder, noting a Fortune magazine story by Dan Friedman, who writes, “With a polarized electorate, both parties believe they benefit more by turning out core supporters than from courting a shrinking group of swing voters. Guns, like abortion, have become an issue both parties want to talk about.” (See next item below.)

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