Instead We Have Careerist Politicians
Even if the Pelosi-Hoyer-Clyburn-Jeffries-AIPAC scheme to defeat Jessica Cisneros and keep the NRA's favorite Democrat in Congress ultimately fails in the recount, Cuellar will still be voting this month to kill any attempt by Democrats to ban assault weapons. He isn't the only Democrat opposing the ban. As we noted yesterday, the "Protecting Our Kids Act" may beef up federal criminal penalties for gun trafficking and 'straw purchases' but it doesn't actually protect anyone's kids, which would take the political capital-- and courage-- to pass another assault weapons ban (not to mention a compulsory buy back program).
Blue Dog Mike Thompson's Judiciary Committee statement yesterday was pure congressional double talk: "Chairman Nadler, Leadership and I are working together to send the strongest bill with the most votes to the Senate. Our strategy is to save lives by reducing gun violence and we have a package that has the backing of our caucus and the American people to do just that." Meaning: to assault weapons ban, no mandatory buy back... juts a little nippin' and tuckin' around the edges... which the Republicans will kill in the Senate anyway.
This morning, Adam Wren, reporting for Politico, wrote that "With opinion essentially hardened on guns in rural and urban America, the suburbs have become the political crucible for winning support for more significant restrictions [on guns]." Wren artfully painted a somewhat misleading picture of the 2020 race for the open red IN-05 seat insinuating the Republican, Victoria Spartz, beat Democrat Christina Hale because Democratic gun control efforts in the suburbs north of Indianapolis lost. But Hale won in the suburbs and lost further north in the backward rural Trumpist part of the district. Overall, Spartz beat Hale 208,212 (50.0%) to 191,226 (45.9%). But in the suburban precincts of Marion County, Hale won 67,007 (63.0%) to 35,734 (33.6%). Where Hale got swamped was in Tipton (24.0%), Howard (24.4%), Grant (29.9%) and Blackford (29.0%), the rural counties that might as well be the Deep South.And in the biggest county in the district, Hamilton, it was a mixed bag. The southern part of the county is suburban and the northern part is rural. Spartz took it 53.8% to 42.9%. Hale did well in Noblesville, the county seat where there had been a middle school shooting 2 years earlier, but the small town agricultural parts of the county, turnout out en masse for their golden calf at the top of the ticket. The culprit: gerrymandering.
This year gun control efforts are getting behind mostly crap candidates like Blue Dog Hillary Scholten in Michigan and Val Demings in Florida, neither of whom has any realistic chance to win in November. Candidate quality does mean something, not just national issues, not even national issues as present as gun control and Choice.
Emily Brooks, reporting for The Hill, noted that "a trickle" of Republicans are "open" to banning assault weapons. She named two-- Adam Kinzinger, who is driven by hatred of his own party, and Chris Jacobs, much of whose district is in the suburbs of Buffalo, which just had a horrific mass shooting. A couple of other Republicans who are in districts that had less recent mass shootings-- Mike Turner (R-OH) and Brian Mast (R-FL)-- seem to still be on board with some kind of assault weapons ban. And then there's Brian Fitzpatrick, generally the only "moderate" Republican left in the House. Will that be enough to balance out the Democrats who tell Pelosi they are against a ban or don't want to vote on one due to spinelessness?
“I have opposed a ban fairly recently. I think I’m open to a ban now,” Kinzinger said on CNN Sunday when he was asked why private citizens need “weapons of war.”
“It’s going to depend on what it looks like because there’s a lot of nuances on what constitutes certain things, but I’m getting to the point where I have to wonder,” Kinzinger said. “Maybe somebody to own one, maybe you need an extra license. Maybe you need extra training.”
Jacobs said in a press conference and during a Buffalo News interview last week that he would support such a ban, but not confiscation of such weapons.
“If an assault weapons ban bill came to the floor that would ban something like an AR-15, I would vote for it,” Jacobs said.
...A few other House Republicans have previously expressed support for banning military or assault-style weapons, usually after a mass shooting with a weapon of that type hit their own states. They have not been particularly vocal about their positions in the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre.
In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in 2018 that killed 17 people and injured 17 others, Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) announced support for banning assault weapons.
“The exact definition of assault weapon will need to be determined. But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify,” Mast wrote in a February 2018 New York Times op-ed.
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) did the same after the Dayton, Ohio, shooting in 2019 in which a gunman killed nine people and wounded 17.
“I strongly support the Second Amendment, but we must prevent mentally unstable people from terrorizing our communities with military style weapons. I will support legislation that prevents the sale of military style weapons to civilians, a magazine limit, and red flag legislation,” Turner said in an August 2019 statement the day after the Dayton shooting. “The carnage these military style weapons are able to produce when available to the wrong people is intolerable.”
And Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) signaled an openness to banning such weapons in a statement soon after the Parkland shooting in 2018.
“All options must be on the table, including comprehensive background checks, a bump stock ban, prohibiting the sale of military assault weapons and full funding for gun violence research in a comprehensive manner that could have prevented tragedies like this,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
Polling from last year suggested that Republican voters are not expressing the same openness to an assault weapons ban. The Pew Research Center found that support for banning assault-style weapons among Republican and Republican-leaning adults fell from 54 percent in 2017 to 37 percent in 2021, as support slightly increased among all voters from 80 percent to 83 percent.
However, attitudes may have shifted in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting. A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted last week found 49 percent of Republican registered voters strongly or somewhat support banning assault-style weapons, with 41 percent somewhat or strongly opposing such a ban.