In the New Hampshire Union Leader, Drew Cline notices that gun control isn’t an issue in the midterms:
In the six months after the Sandy Hook shootings, the left brought up gun control constantly. In April of 2013, Granite State Progress brought the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim to a Kelly Ayotte town hall meeting to confront Ayotte, who had just voted against a Democratic gun control bill. Since then, support for gun control has fallen in the polls and the issue has been dropped in favor of character assassination and innuendo. Mentions of the words “Koch brothers” probably outnumber mentions of the word “guns” by more than 1,000 to one.
This is an excellent point. But, honestly, it was never going to be any other way. Gun control comes up when something terrible happens, and then it immediately dies down again when people come to their senses. The idea that an election in November of 2014 would be significantly changed by something that happened in 2012 was always a preposterous one.
Not, of course, that this stopped the predictions from flowing. Per Business Insider, last April,
“Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough reamed into Senate Republicans and four Democrats who voted against the passage of a bill expanding background checks. Particularly targeting Republicans, Scarborough said that the party was “moving toward extinction.”
“You do not ignore 90 percent of the American people on an issue of public safety,” Scarborough said, citing poll numbers that consistently showed nine in 10 respondents supporting the measure.
“Mark it down — this is going to be a turning point in the history of the Republican Party as well,” he added. “And let those out there chattering, let them chatter away all they want to and scream like hyenas. Let them do what they want to do.
This line, popular among progressives last summer, was always nonsense. But it was especially odd to hear it coming from a former Republican congressman who won his seat in Florida in 1994 on the back of a Republican wave that materialized in opposition to, among other things, an overreach on gun control.
Cline wonders why Republicans haven’t picked up the cause:
Republicans have been handed an opportunity to show Democratic candidates as actively hostile to some of our most cherished and important constitutional rights, and they are not taking it. Jeanne Shaheen co-sponsored Sen. Mark Udall’s constitutional amendment to rewrite the First Amendment and allow government — including states — to suppress speech. Kuster and Shea-Porter both support it. These incumbents also want to pass laws that, at the very least, further restrict Second Amendment rights. Together, those encroachments upon the Bill of Rights would make a powerful Republican campaign ad.
I agree wholly with Cline on the matter of Udall’s proposal. That Republicans haven’t been running ads noting that their opponents have been trying to repeal the First Amendment is surprising. But I don’t know how much traction most candidates would get by talking about the Second – especially given that most of the competitive Senate seats are in pro-gun states in which Democrats are unlikely to take a strong stance in favor of more control. Mark Pryor and Mark Begich both voted against the Toomey-Manchin bill, so any sustained attack would look a touch odd. Iowa’s Tom Harkin voted in favor of the bill, but he’s not running for re-election. In Kentucky, Alison Lundergan Grimes has done just about everything she can do suggest to the electorate that she’s pro-gun, thereby neutralizing McConnell’s vote against as a campaign issue.
There have been skirmishes in a couple of states. In Kansas, the surprise rise of Greg Orman has led Pat Roberts to bring up the issue — and hard. According to the Wichita Eagle, background checks have become an issue in the race:
Orman said he is a gun owner and Second Amendment supporter. But he came out in favor of closing the so-called gun show loophole, which allows people to buy guns while bypassing the background check they’d need to pass if they bought a gun from a licensed dealer.
“I don’t think that having a loophole that allows people who couldn’t get guns at a legitimate gun dealer to get them otherwise is sound policy,” Orman said. “I just don’t think it makes sense to make it easy for a convicted felon or someone who’s under a restraining order for domestic abuse to be able to walk into a gun show and easily get a gun.”
Roberts’ response: “Well, there you have it. He’s for the Second Amendment, but more federal controls, more federal requirements. I’m for the Second Amendment; I’ve always stood for the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.”
Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Bill Cassidy has criticized Mary Landrieu’s vote in favor of Toomey-Manchin. In late September, the Times-Picayune reported that:
The National Rifle Association is out this week with a controversial TV ad attacking Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, while Everytown for Gun Safety has announced its endorsement of Landrieu and accused the NRA of playing fast and loose with the facts.
This leaves us with Shaheen, Udall, and Hagan, all of whom voted in favor. Given New Hampshire’s nature, I can’t imagine that Scott Brown would profit greatly from knocking Shaheen for her vote in favor of a background-check bill. (Perhaps of all the “no” voters, Kelly Ayotte got the most flack.) And, even if he would benefit, he is on record as supporting that legislation — and much more besides. Colorado has been ground zero for the fight over post-Newtown restrictions, voters there having already pushed back against lawmakers who helped to institute new state rules. Would a sustained push from Cory Gardner motivate anyone new? I doubt it. As for North Carolina, Hagan seems to have already lost whatever ground her “yes” vote was going to cost her, while Thom Tillis seems reluctant to bring the issue up at all.
In September, Gallup noted that a whopping one percent of Americans believe gun control to be the biggest issue facing the country. Bottom line: Nobody really cares.