Yesterday I received my weekly (sometimes daily) email from our friends at Everytown asking me to give them some bucks. If it weren’t for the fact that a gun-nut friend of mine wants to sell me his Smith & Wesson Model 41 for $700, I’d respond positively to Everytown’s solicitation today. But I’ll get another email from Mayor Mike tomorrow. I won’t see another Model 41 out there for $700 bucks, okay?
What caught my eye in the Everytown email was not the request for dough, I will send them something soon. It was this statement which sums up the Everytown analysis of the election results in 2018: “For the first time, it’s clear that across the country gun safety is a winning issue.” Which happens to be what every Gun-control Nation organization is saying about the mid-terms, by the way.
When either side in the great gun debate makes a claim, I try to verify the statement before I accept it as being true; I’m just a contrarian when it comes to noise made by advocates on either side . Take a look, if you will, at the House races where major donations from Bloomberg helped Democratic candidates grab the brass ring. Of the 44 seats which will now be occupied by Democrats and were either GOP seats or vacant last year, 19 of those races evidently turned on major cash infusions from Bloomberg, either monies he directly gave those campaigns or money which he gave to other outside organizations which then used the dough to bolster those same campaigns. These campaigns also received money from the Everytown PAC, so we can assume that for these contests, the gun issue was a ‘winning issue,’ correct? The answer: yes and no.
In Virginia’s 2nd CD, a pro-gun Democrat, Elaine Luria, beat out a ‘pro-gun’ incumbent. In Virginia’s 10th CD, the defeat of Barbara Comstock had nothing to do with the gun issue at all. In both of these races, the issue was Trump. In New Jersey’s 11th CD, an open seat, Mikie Sherrill won an open seat against her GOP in a race where guns meant nothing to either side. Take a look at the issues in Pennsylvania’s 6th CD, guns aren’t mentioned by either side. And even in a race where the blue candidate, Jason Crow, touted his gun-control bone fides against NRA stooge Mike Coffman, the loser was against an assault weapons ban but he supported a red-flag law, too.
The one race where guns were certainly front and center was Georgia’s 6th CD, where the incumbent Republican, Karen Handel, lost her seat to a first-time Congressional hopeful, Lucy McBath. What created the noise in this race was the fact that McBath has been a spokeswoman for Everytown, following her son’s shooting death in 2012.
Am I saying that gun-control issues didn’t make a difference? No. Am I saying that the energy and determination of Gun-control Nation didn’t outdo the efforts of the other side? No. Am I saying that the NRA’s lack of fungible cash wasn’t a factor in how the mid-terms turned out? No.
What I am saying, however, is that the gun issue, in and of itself, just doesn’t explain how most electoral contests turn out. The CNN exit polls for House races found that support for stricter gun laws ran 59% in favor, 37% opposed. But 76% of Democratic voters favored stricter laws, while 76% of Republican voters were opposed. The Parkland kids generated lots of media attention, but if you’re a Democratic candidate, you’re in favor of expanded background checks. If you’re a Republican, you’re not.
What my GVP friends need to remember is that while NRA political contributions went down the drain in 2018, lobbying expenditures slipped from the previous year but were $1 million higher than 2016. Wishful thinking about the demise of the NRA to the contrary, the balance sheet of America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ shows them $26 million in the black.
Want to reduce gun violence? Maybe the fight’s just begun.