Guns are not a winning issue for Democrats

Guns are not a winning issue for Democrats

Bouquets are stack up in front of crosses put up for victims along the temporary fence line outside the parking lot of a King Soopers grocery store, the site of a mass shooting in which 10 people died, in Boulder, Colo. Credit: AP/David Zalubowski Gun control is back on the national agenda. While the killings in Georgia two weeks ago mostly prompted dialogue about motives and anti-Asian hate crimes, the murder of 10 last week in Colorado led President Joe Biden to urge Congress not "to wait another minute" before acting on gun regulation proposals, including a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. The urgency is understandable. But from a political standpoint, Democrats would be better off focusing on parts of their agenda that have more realistic prospects of success. It’s not just that the odds are low for passing even modest gun-control legislation. It’s that the kinds of measures that are politically feasible would have little effect without policing reform, while those that would save large numbers of lives are politically toxic. For eight years, between John Kerry’s defeat in 2004 and Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, progressive leaders were pretty successful in keeping the gun-regulation issue off the national agenda. When he was head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and later the House Democratic Caucus, then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel recruited many explicitly pro-gun candidates to run in tough House districts in 2006 and 2008 — and many of them won. Democrats with safer seats didn’t stop […]

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