Come Election Day, Gun Control Could Actually Benefit Radical Right
Especially If It’s “Same Old Story” For Democrats And Young People Where They Start Fighting Amongst Themselves And Don’t Vote
Those of you hoping for fast action this week from Congress are probably already sorely disappointed. While several Republicans individually talked big last week about common-sense changes, now that they’re all back together, they’re backing off every which way. (Which is why lots of people need to turn out in DC on March 24 if they can, to support the Parkland students and protect the momentum they’ve created).
With that in mind, let’s focus on the gun debate’s potential impact on the midterms this fall, when every seat in the House of Representatives is potentially up for grabs. Public opinion is changing, so slam dunk for Democrats, right? Not so fast…
Republicans already have one “good” issue to run on: their tax cuts. As long as the economy is strong and the stock market is up it’s going to be hard to argue they’re bad. And now they may have a 2nd “good” issue: guns. That’s right: nothing stirs passion within the radical right electorate as a threat to their guns.
Guns may even be a better issue than tax cuts. Because face it, fiscal policy isn’t really going to get anybody out of bed come Election Day. Guns will. On both sides.
As the New York Times reports, Democrats in swing states, who always had to walk a fine line, are now finding themselves more able to ally themselves with anti-gun forces. But that strategy will only work out if the folks rallying against guns right now vote in November. If they do, the radical right can’t win*. There are many more Democrats and young people out there. But the reason for the asterisk is the passion, momentum and numbers have to be there come Election Day.
And it’s especially important this year. Here’s why:
A lot of the more moderate or “common sense” Republicans have taken themselves out of the running this fall, meaning if Democrats can’t flip the House or Senate, even if they win a few more seats, the Republicans across the aisle are going to be a lot more radical.
In the meantime, it may be more important to keep an eye on individual states than Capitol Hill. As fivethirtyeight reports, the Parkland massacre could lead to the passage of stricter gun laws in blue states, and stymie laws expanding gun ownership in red states. But it also points out that following a violent incident, states in the past have often loosened gun laws, not tightened them. That happened in a big way in Arizona, after Representative Gabby Giffords was shot and nearly killed. The New York Times reported in the year after Sandy Hook, 39 new laws passed nationwide tightening gun restrictions, but 70 passed loosening them.
And that’s happening again right now in Florida, where the Republican- controlled legislature, under pressure to pass something quickly, is rallying around the Trump/N.R.A.-backed proposal to arm some teachers. Their version of that proposal just made it out of committee and calls for nearly 40,000 more guns, not less.
How is that even possible? Passion and fear. The more poignant and emphatic the anti-gun movement becomes, the more mobilized and reactionary pro-gun people get. And they push back hard.
Is anything really that different this time?