The following analysis by BuzzFeed Reporter Evan McMorris-Santoro on the political calculus of taking up the gun-control issue says that the debate is changing. It’s no longer a no-win issue for democrats. They are emboldened to politicize it more and more, having experienced recent election wins by gun-control candidates Gov. Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, and by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Virginia. They see it as feasible and beneficial to make gun-control a top bed issue this coming political season.
1. Gun-control advocates emboldened
2. Gun control now up for political debate
via BuzzFeed President Obama expressly promised to “politicize” the Oregon deaths in his first remarks following the murders last week, the latest in a series of emotional speeches he’s delivered after mass shootings. These days, they’re just the two most prominent Democrats of the many elected officials willing to talk about gun control early and often.
This is the sound of the new gun control political safety net working, say advocates and Democratic political strategists.
That Democrats move instantly to politicize shootings — and invite the sustained criticism of gun rights supporters, who view the move as callous at best and calculated at worst, for doing it — is now an expected part of the national debate. Not too long ago, it really wasn’t.
“Washington is certainly a town of political calculation but as the strength of our community has grown, it’s become something that our elected leaders can’t ignore,” Hayley Zachary, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, told BuzzFeed News. She said her talks with politicians sometimes still result in “antiquated responses” to the politics of the guns, but that looking away from Washington has helped her make the point that pushing for expanded background checks and other measures isn’t the political risk it once was.
“There is definitely a history of political involvement on this issue from the gun lobby,” Zachary said. “We are up against them more than we are against a political party.”
Millions of dollars are flowing in support of gun control now, and the politicians that take risks have backup they didn’t used to.
The impact on Democrats of a consistent gun control push from the White House and a support system to back it up on the trail is clear. But gun politics are still some of the toughest politics around: While polls routinely show huge majorities of Americans favor stricter federal background checks and tighter regulations on gun purchases, 2016 will be the first test in a long time of how willing they are to vote against politicians who continue to block background check expansion.
Gun rights advocates have shown they’re still willing and able to punish lawmakers who cross them, or at least convince them that the politically beneficial path after a mass shooting still steers them well clear of new gun laws that, the gun rights advocates often point out, might have done little to prevent the event in question.
Democrats who have stared down the NRA and found an infrastructure to back them up say the feeling is liberating. “You can vote your conscience here and that’s something you couldn’t say five years ago,” the Malloy insider said.
“The most interesting contrast is between 2008 and 2016,” said Feinblatt, president of Everytown. “Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were not debating gun issues in 2008. I’d argue they were doing just the opposite because they had really accepted the notion that no matter how you felt about it in your heart, it wasn’t worth the political risk of talking about it.”
Seven years later, Feinblatt said, there’s been a “sea change” in Democratic presidential politics.
“Clinton is talking about it and she’s talking about it everywhere, not selectively,” he said. “And Bernie Sanders is actually trying to convince voters that his record on guns is actually better than most people think. … That is a completely different political calculus, and I think that’s happening because of what’s happening in the states.” via BuzzFeed