A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: background checks

The Changing Politics of Gun Control

by evanmcmurry

While Kelly Ayotte saw her approval ratings plummet and her townhalls go south following her vote against background checks, two red/swing state senators are benefiting from their vote for background checks:

45% of voters in the state say they’re now more likely to support Landrieu for reelection because she voted for background checks, compared to only 25% who say they’re now less likely to vote for her. Landrieu has also seen a 6 point improvement in her net approval rating from the last time we polled the state in February, from +2 then at 47/45 to now +8 at 49/41.

It’s a similar story in North Carolina. There 73% of voters support background checks with only 22% opposed. Again there is a strong consensus across party lines with more than 60% of Democrats (86/11), independents (67/28), and Republicans (61/34) all supporting them.  52% of voters say they’re more inclined to reelect Hagan next year because she voted for background checks, while only 26% of voters say they will be less likely to support her because of it.

Hagan and Landrieu are both faring a lot better on this issue than their Republican colleagues in these states. 50% of North Carolinians say they’re less likely to vote for Richard Burr in the future because of his opposition to background checks, compared to only 26% who consider his vote to be a positive. And in Louisiana 41% of voters say they’re less likely to vote for David Vitter in the future based on his vote on this bill, compared to just 25% more likely to.

Obvious disclaimers: the election is still eighteen months away, polling doesn’t really mean that much, credibility interval, etc.

But still: all available evidence indicates that gun control, or at least a cautious, moderate version of it, is no longer a suicide pill for Democrats, even in swing states. The recent failure of any gun control measure to pass the Senate looks on the surface like a stinging defeat, but the politics shifted during the debate: the NRA wildly overreached, public opinion moved considerably more toward center, and most important, the so-called “enthusiasm gap”—the theory, true until now, that gun owners overwhelmed with intensity any possible majority on gun control issues—is beginning to close. The Newtown families’ admirable and forceful lobby work on the issue is giving a new ferocity to gun control arguments.

Two of the possible outcomes: the Toomey-Manchin bill comes up again—they’ve both pledged it’s not done—and other senators take note of the outcome from the last vote and switch. Or senators who voted for the background check see a benefit in 2014, and revise the truth that a gun control vote is suicide.

Expanded Background Checks Won’t Pass

by evanmcmurry

Welp, background checks was the best we could do, it was pretty pathetic (as we had to loosen some other gun restrictions to get them) and we still couldn’t do it.

Despite 90% of support of the public, including overwhelming majorities from Republicans and independents, a compromise from two Senators with A ratings from the NRA, lobbying from families of the Newtown shooting, and lobbying from Gabby Giffords, a congressional colleague shot in the head, background checks won’t even get an up or down vote in the Senate.

Sargeant deserves a full quote here:

If Manchin-Toomey dies, there also will be a lot of chatter to the effect that this was inevitable, that the NRA’s grip on Congress is invincible, and that it was naïve to imagine that anything could happen, even after Newtown. This is all just wrong, and indeed, it lets culpable Senators off the hook. If the proposal goes down, it will be because a few Senators did the wrong thing. It was not at all inevitable that a half dozen Senators who were genuinely undecided voted one way and not the other. The death of this proposal will be on them.

Your Depressing Gun Control Update

by evanmcmurry

The compromise between Toomey and Manchin on background checks, which is supposed to break the impasse on the only facet of gun control that stands a chance of passing, also includes the following:

The agreement also contains provisions expanding firearms rights, and that concerns gun control supporters. Some restrictions on transporting guns across state lines would be eased, sellers would be shielded from lawsuits if the buyer passed a check but later used a firearm in a crime and gun dealers could conduct business in states where they don’t live.

And so our response to Newtown has become a loosening of gun laws. This is part of securing a “compromise” for background checks, which 80-90% of Americans support, depending on the poll. And the families of Newtown will be lobbying legislators just to pass this. And it still might not pass.

Here’s the relevant part of Obama’s response:


To which Charles Pierce rejoinds:

To belabor the obvious, any compromise brokered on the issue of gun control between Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey is not “bipartisan” just because one of them is a Democrat and the other is a Republican…on this particular issue, there isn’t enough room between Manchin and Toomey to shine a flashlight. To call the deal struck today “bipartisan” is to fetishize the adjective into virtual uselessness.

Back to your regularly scheduled program of wondering whether you might be shot today.