Nov 04 2018

Cold Dead Hands

It is well known that the vast majority of United States citizens favor Gun Control, like 61% of them, yet there are few issues that have exposed the craven cowadice of Legislators on both sides of the aisle more.

One would have thought the violent massacre of First Graders at Sandy Hook would have elicited some change and it has in Connecticut where we already had some pretty strict firearms regulations. Instead outrage largely disappeared in a few months, and rabid Right Wingers like Alex Jones spread conspiracy theories about crisis actors. I live near enough to Newtown to assure you it was and is all horrifyingly real.

It is interesting that the Parkland tragedy is getting better traction on the conscience of lawmakers and potential lawmakers. For me the distingishing feature is its dreary ordinariness.

One reason may be that the National Rifle Association has had to scale back its electioneering operations this cycle. Pleading poverty they have slashed direct contributions to candidates as well as their independent expenditures and ‘Get Out The Vote’ efforts. They’ve become quite a toothless tiger.

I can only view this as a positive development, though the United States is awash in Guns and without massive confiscation (highly unlikely and probably ineffective) even immediate cessation of their manufacture would leave every citizen with 1 or two Guns were they evenly distributed (which of course they are not, if you own a Gun you almost certainly own many of them).

So was the invention of fire good for the Chinese people? Too soon to tell.

Suburban Democrats campaign on gun-control policies as NRA spending plummets
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Kyle Swenson, and Katie Zezima, Washington Post
November 3, 2018

Democratic congressional candidates in suburban swing seats are embracing restrictions on firearms as election-related spending from pro-gun groups, including the powerhouse National Rifle Association, has plummeted.

The willingness to campaign on gun-control policies, including universal background checks and restrictions on military-style weapons, runs counter to past elections, when candidates feared the topic could isolate moderate voters or prompt reprisal from the NRA, whose spending is down about 68 percent since the 2014 midterm elections. Groups calling for gun-control measures have injected nearly $12 million into campaigns, the most they have spent in an election cycle since at least 2010.

The candidates’ emboldened approach, combined with the changes in spending trends, reflects a shift in the politics of gun policy over the past two years. Polls show Americans are becoming more supportive of stricter firearm laws amid a spate of mass shootings.

“The convention in swing districts like this is, don’t take it on, not in a purple or light blue district. It’s a wedge issue,” said Jason Crow, a Democrat running against Rep. Mike Coffman (R) in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District in the Denver suburbs. “But I believe the danger is in not taking this on anymore.”

On Thursday, days after 11 people were killed in a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Everytown for Gun Safety launched a $700,000 ad buy against Coffman.

Support for stricter firearm laws has grown. According to an October Gallup poll, 61 percent of Americans said firearm laws should be more strict — a dip from 67 percent in March but still at a high point dating back to 2004.

For the past few years, Everytown had focused on changing laws in states where it saw a chance to make inroads, including Nevada and Washington. It is now trying to replicate that with congressional and statewide races.

“The momentum is with us, the NRA is on its heels, and we think that it’s an opportunity to keep redrawing the map,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown.

While gun policy is not the top issue for most congressional battleground races, a recent Washington Post-Schar School poll found 41 percent of people in battleground districts said gun violence was an “extremely” important issue in their vote for Congress this year. Gun control also resonates with younger Americans. A poll conducted in October by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics showed school shootings were the top concern among Americans from the ages of 14 to 29.

Public outcry after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead, further shifted the political landscape going into midterm season. In its wake, 19 states passed some form of gun legislation. They include Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is now in a tight race for Senate, signed a suite of gun-control bills into law.

The shift is happening in congressional and local races. Democratic gubernatorial candidates in states including Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire and Connecticut have all made gun control a major issue in their campaigns.

The NRA and other groups supporting gun rights have been far less active this election after ramping up their spending on advertising in every other cycle since 2010, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

In 2016, the NRA and other gun rights groups shelled out nearly $55 million on media and advertisements, CRP data shows. This election, their spending has plummeted to roughly $9 million, the majority of which has come from the NRA.

The NRA has spent 2018 fighting a torrent of criticism, facing direct challenges by students, activists, corporate America and politicians. Perhaps in a reflection of the criticism, some Republican candidates running in tough congressional districts this year returned or did not deposit donations from the group, Mother Jones found.

States are also probing the NRA’s insurance products; the group is embroiled in a lawsuit with New York over its Carry Guard insurance policy.

In comparison, gun-control groups have spent nearly $12 million this election, according to an analysis of federal spending records by the CRP. While their spending still pales in comparison to the massive amounts gun rights groups injected in previous election cycles, it is the most gun-control groups have spent in one election cycle going back to 2010, CRP records show.

Giffords PAC, a gun-control super PAC founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot at a campaign event in 2011, and her husband, Mark Kelly, has injected nearly $6 million into races around the country, including in Texas, Virginia and Minnesota. The group says far more political ads on gun control are running this year than in previous cycles.