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Gun Control Dynamics in New York

This poll is rather shocking.  It shows Kirsten Gillibrand losing in a Democratic primary to Carolyn McCarty, with 34 percent of Democratic voters supporting McCarthy, with only 24 percent supporting Gillibrand.  I’m a bit like a kid with an ant farm over this whole topic.  A pro-gun politician elevated to represent a staunchly anti-gun state as a member of the staunchly anti-gun party is not something I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it’s been fascinating to watch.

I still don’t believe there’s any real passion for gun control, even among New York City Democrats.  If there were, we’d run into them more often, and we don’t.  Even the Huffington Post is a rather lonely place for Paul Helmke.  But the fact remains that Carolyn McCarthy, a Congresswoman from Long Island, who’s sole issue is gun control, and who had no success getting anything relating to guns passed until NRA rewrote one of her bills and backed it, is ahead in polling for the Dem primary.

My theory is that it’s not so much gun control itself that is the issue, but that it represents a cultural signaling mechanism to the downstate establishment.  Gillibrand’s support of gun rights signals that she is not one of them.  That she comes from an area that hunts, fishes, and shoots.  That’s something upstate cousin-humpers do.  Those aren’t the values of the Upper East Side.  The message hammered home by the media downstate is that Kirsten Gillibrand is not one of you.  She’s not New York.  Carrie McCarthy?  Well, she’s from Long Island at least.  I do think the cultural condescention is actually that bad among upper middle class urban dwellers from the Northeast, which are going to be heavily represented in any Democratic primary in New York State.

I actually think framing the debate in terms of hunting hurts her.  Self-defense is another matter, and if I were advising Gillibrand on how to handle the gun issue, I would advise her to steer clear of hunting.  Hunting is something completely alien to someone who has lived in New York City all their lives.  Most everyone, even liberal Democrats, can relate to wanting to protect their family and their homes.  Gillibrand will no doubt want the media to drop the gun issue completely, but they won’t.  Given that, if she is going to keep her position on the issue, she needs to speak about it in a context New Yorkers can understand.

7 Responses to “Gun Control Dynamics in New York”

  1. SayUncle says:

    How are you shocked? NY (mostly NYC) + Democrats. The whole city has been fed the ‘guns are bad, mmmkay’ line for decades.

    And Ms. Shoulder Thing That Goes Up is from the city.

  2. Sebastian says:

    They might have that general attitude, but what has Carolyn McCarthy accomplished in her career in Congress? I can see people in New York City generally not liking guns, but I can’t see them electing a single issue failed Congresswoman to office over that issue alone. If New Yorkers cared that much about gun control, we’d be arguing with them all the time. There are 8 million of them.

  3. BobBob says:

    Could not agree with you more. I live in Washington, DC and am a liberal Dem gun owner. You would not believe it here. Recently, a councilwoman from the whitest and wealthiest Ward in DC introduced, and got passed, a regulation requiring 5 hours of out of state handgun training to have the right to own a SHOTGUN in your home. It is not such an impact on here Ward, of course.

    Also, if you peruse the comments and Letters to the Editor in the Washington Post, you will see many “enlightened” people in VIRGINIA(!!) who think that “more guns equal more crime.”

    It is sad.

  4. She should obviously steer clear of the gun issue, and when asked, reply with a short and direct response and quickly, and authoritively move onto the next issue.

  5. Mike w. says:

    “Also, if you peruse the comments and Letters to the Editor in the Washington Post, you will see many “enlightened” people in VIRGINIA(!!) who think that “more guns equal more crime.”

    Sounds like those folks are migrating from less free states like DC and MD and bringing all of their stupid crap with them

  6. Jacob says:

    That poll is BS. Newsday adores McCarthy. The only reason she’s still in office is because the Nassau Co. GOP is non-functioning and refuses to put up a serious candidate against her. If you took all of her opponents over the years and rolled them into one challenger, he it wouldn’t rise beyond the level of cannon-fodder.

  7. tarpon says:

    Newsday … not exactly fair and balanced.

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