Congressional Democratic leaders in Washington think they have a winning issue in gun control this time around, seemingly impervious to the lessons they should have learned from literally every single other time we’ve been through this rigmarole. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are pushing for policy ideas that will make the party stand out as the ones who stood up against the NRA, but there are many Democrats on the analysis side of things who think the leadership should be very careful in how they approach the issue.
“It’s one of those fundamental issues that riles up American politics — it’s up there with abortion and immigration — and they need to be very careful,” a former Democratic leadership aide told The Hill. “If a Democratic candidate, or the party as a whole, overextends on this issue, then it becomes incredibly easy for the Republicans to play that up in a lot of districts. It’s easier to demagogue on this than to do something about it, and you risk overreaching as a party if you try to make it a one-size-fits-all [issue].”
Here’s what Democrats fail to understand about the gun control debate: It’s not as much of a left vs. right issue as the media makes it seem. Sure, when you look at Washington, that’s all you see. Republicans are trying to intervene legally as little as possible, Democrats are trying to ban assault rifles. And that carries over into the media. Conservatives are gun-totin, NRA membership card-holdin’, rootin-tootin, Second Amendment lovin’ rednecks; liberals are fancy-pants intellectuals who think that no one other than police and the military should have guns.
In reality, though? Not so much.
Despite what some flawed polls would have you believe, there are plenty of gun owners who vote for the Democrats. There are plenty of “liberals” who like to go out and hunt in the fall. There are plenty of social leftists who would not willingly part with the AR-15 they bought for home protection. Just take Vermont for an example. It’s one of the most extreme left-wing bastions in the country and their favorite son, Bernie Sanders, was not NEARLY as far to the left on gun control as Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Democratic Party. That’s because there are plenty of gun-loving socialists up there in the northeast, and while they may have some confused ideas about how much power the federal government should wield, they don’t think it should extend to firearms confiscation.
On guns (much like immigration), the Democratic Party is coming increasingly untethered from middle America. Their zero tolerance policy on the Second Amendment plays well in New York City and San Francisco, but it’s a loser in places like the Rust Belt that the party desperately wants to bring back into the fold. They would be wise to ease up, but far be it from us to give them advice on politics.