Why Have the Dems Become so Gun-Ho for Gun Control?

Bob Owens did a tweet string that explains the motivations behind the Dems embracing gun control. I agree that philosophical progressives are terrified of an armed citizenry, because such an idea runs counter to technocratic central planning, but I view most politicians as opportunists, rather than die hard ideologies. There’s two reasons the Dems are so crazy for gun control today.

One is the Democrats mounted a comeback strategy that culminated in retaking Congress in 2006 largely by running “blue dog” candidates that were good on guns and could win in their local districts. The theory was that the gun vote could deliver a lot of single issue voters, and would therefore help Democrats hold their seats. NRA issued a lot of endorsements to blue dogs in the 2010 election, despite taking a lot of crap from their members. They bent to the will of their members and pulled Harry Reid’s endorsement largely because he voted in favor of Sotomayor and Kagan. The blue dogs were laid to waste in the 2010 election. Democrats took the lesson, rightly or wrongly (I would argue wrongly), that there was no use chasing gun votes, since they weren’t reliable for Democrats.

The second reason the Dems are so gung-ho for gun control in 2016 is because of the vast sums of money that Mike Bloomberg’s bringing to the table. He’s not necessarily bringing all that money in for guns, but you can bet when a big donor is willing to dump a million bucks worth of ad buys into a state-level race, even of those ads aren’t on guns, politicians will start dancing that donor’s tune on gun control if they know that’s a big issue for him.

The older I get the less I think politics has really anything to do with political philosophy and reason. Sure, there has to be enough of that for the chattering classes, but for the most part it’s really just a bunch of hucksters, grifters, and opportunists vying for media time in order to manipulate poorly informed people they are worth coming out for and checking their name in the box at the next election. The people who are good at that win elections, and the people who suck at it lose.

What keeps me from becoming completely jaded is that I do believe it’s possible for motivated groups of people to play this game, manipulate the manipulators, and come out ahead. What will make the Democrats listen on the gun issue? A motivated group of people (it would probably only take a million nationwide) willing to be visible in the Democratic coalition and willing to withhold their votes and money solely on the issue of gun rights. If we had that, they’d start to listen.

24 thoughts on “Why Have the Dems Become so Gun-Ho for Gun Control?”

  1. Related: people want me to be a single-issue voter. That’s not how it works, unless the issue is how much control the government should or will have. The folks who want to sit out the election if Trump is the Republican nominee are a vote against gun rights. Not because I trust Trump on guns, but because I DO TRUST HILLARY!

    1. I think that ship sailed and then sank in the harbor when they picked a blue northeastern state (New Hampshire) instead of Wyoming. For ever Free Stater that moved to NH, 10 New York and/or Boston liberals moved there escaping taxes.

  2. I understand the part about, “the NRA has alienated every pro gun dem, so why not,” but it is a short-sighted approach. I think Hil went out on guns purely to differentiate from Bernie. However, she is going to need the “independent” (e.g. the stupid people vote) in order to get elected. That group is pretty pro-gun, but I don’t know if they are single issue pro gun.

    1. The NRA didn’t abandon “blue dog democrats,” those individuals turned their back on the RKBA and the will of the people; The NRA’s decision to withhold endorsements and money from them was in response to this abandonment, not the cause of it.

        1. Looks like Americans are not just single issue voters. The unpardonable sin of Obamacare is what sank the 2010 Dems. Their token gun votes were NOT going to save the Dems that year. Am I the only one who remembers the REALLY angry town halls who were basically halted after it became crystal clears to the politicians that they might have gone too far that time. That’s why the Dems lost that year. If they thought fake gun support was going to save them, they are idiots.

  3. The problem for the Dem’s blue dog strategy was it was pretty flawed.

    The theory was that the gun vote could deliver a lot of single issue voters, and would therefore help Democrats hold their seats.

    See… a lot of the GOP people who ran against the Blue Dogs were also pro gun. So for a single issue voter the only difference is that they have a voting record of support on the incumbent. Where the challenger is an unknown.

    Sure that’s an advantage, but that’s not much.

    I mean how many Blue Dogs lost their seats to anti-gun Republicans?

    1. This.

      Those democrats lost because they proved that we couldn’t trust their pro-gun soundbites to be anything more than platitudes.

        1. Yep!

          The Democrats have soft peddled gun control (at least at the national level) since 2000 when Gore’s lose was blamed on gun control advocacy, up until December 2012 when Newtown “changed everything”.

  4. Partly, but also it’s a negotiating strategy. They are doing it on social security, government pension reform, and other issues as well (see here for example http://www.wsj.com/articles/democrats-rethink-social-security-strategy-1428270057).
    “Meanwhile, liberal strategists say they got tired of fighting to stave off cuts and decided to change the debate to more favorable terms.”

    Free college! Expand healthcare! $15 minimum wage! Confiscate Guns!

    It is a risky strategy. If as a voter you think some cuts are needed (say, -0.5), and your choices are -2 (Republicans) or 0 (Democrats), you will vote for 0, but are ok if there are some cuts negotiated. Now as the Dem party moves left, they are offering a choice between -2 and +2. Who do you vote for? You probably vote R and hope they do not cut as much as they say they will.

    In different terms, the whole Democratic party has shifted left to attempt to move the debate in a way that preserves programs rather than conceding cuts are needed. Gun control, social security, pension reform, minimum wage, you name it.

    I personally think it will backfire. The top issues are not guns, they are taxes, the economy, and terrorism. Gun control is pretty far down the list. Anthony Brown ran for governor in Maryland on gun control in deep blue Maryland, the Dems learned nothing from that experience.

    I am still waiting for gov Hogan to deliver my free pile of AR rifles to my daughters school yard.

  5. I’m hardly the first to point this out:
    If the dems weren’t stirring up the hornets nest on gun control, they might actually have to discuss their & president empty chair’s record over the past seven years: Obamacare has turned health care & insurance into a total cluster-fudge. The economy is in tatters. Income inequality is up. Home ownership is down. The Middle East is in flames. Europe is committing suicide. Russia is resurgent. The NORKs have a hydrogen bomb. The Ayatollahs are well on their way to one. Their 2 presidential candidates are an openly socialist economic illeterate and a frumpy stroked-out alcoholic who spent the last few decades running interference for her sex fiend husband.
    What would YOU want to talk about?

  6. My take on Democratic Party is halfway between Bob and Sebastian.

    I think the change in emphasis on gun control is because of ideology. But the reason the ideological balance of the Party is so different today is because of all the defeated and/or retired blue dog Democrats. Only the hard core lefties remain to guide the party.

    It isn’t just on gun-control and it isn’t just recently the Democrats have become more hard core left wing. Recall how the ‘democratic wing of the democratic party’ primaried Joe Lieberman because of his apostasy on foreign policy issues, even though he had been the parties VP nominee just a few years earlier.

    Also the Democrats are really full of themselves lately. In 2006-08 they were hungry, they had been out of majority control of Congress and the Presidency for too long and were willing to mute gun-control positions in order to win. But today? Despite the losses since Obama’s election, Obama has so intoxicated the Party they desire moral purity more than they want to win.

    Besides, they really don’t think a more ideologically pure party and public stance will hurt them in the election, they even think it will help them win. The sudden turnaround on gay marriage has them convinced history is on on their side and America is at a ‘tipping point’ on guns, just like they think America ‘tipped’ on gay marriage.

    1. America is at a “tipping point” on guns – which is why this election is so @#$% important. Peak Gun Control was 1994, and they’ve been losing since then. Heller and McDonald pushed us to the balance point, but not over. The next SCOTUS appointment is going to be in a lot of ways, the one for all the marbles. Heller got us “keep,” but the current court has been ducking “bear.” The next court is likely to take up the question again; and we need to have them uphold and extend HEller, not neuter it.

        1. I use the term “high water mark” for gun control. Inspired by the usage of the term at Gettysburg where the line marking the furthest northern advance the South every made in the Civil War and in retreat from then on. And I agree, 1994 was it.

          1. Well, the period 1994-2004 is more or less a stalemate, nationally. The failure to renew the AWB in 2004 is when the antis start actually losing ground.

            1. I believe that the case can be made that the ’94 AWB was the straw that broke Al Gore’s camel’s back and kept him from winning the presidency. Yes it was close, but based on the love Americans apparently have for Bill Clinton, Gore should have won in a landslide.

              1. 1994 was the antis’ overreach. The full extent of which took the next decade to shake out.

    2. Pro-gun Dems are pretty much extinct on the federal level, and most of us know that. None of us should be fooled by what we hear. I think the party has this illusion that the demographics of this country have successfully “tipped” to the point that they can run on every hardcore progressive/statist issue and still win. They’re not holding anything back at this point, evident by Hillary and Bernie trying to out “anti-gun” each other instead of ignoring the issue altogether.

      There are still pro-gun Dems on the state level and below in many states. I may not agree with my Democratic state rep on issues like unions, but the man has voted for every pro-gun measure and against every anti-gun one since I’ve been his constituent. Representing well-developed parts of Allegheny County, he’s more pro-gun than most Republicans back in my home state of NY, and I’m not going to forget that.

      1. The problem with “pro gun Democrats” is that no matter how pro-gun they are, their very existence in a public office empowers the party writ-large … which is overwhelmingly anti-gun.

        1. The real question is what does a pro-gun Democrat put first? Party loyalty or fealty to their pro-gun voters?

          That is what doomed Democrats like House Speaker Foley in 1994. Even though Foley had a good pro-gun record, when the head of the Party said vote my way on banning so-called “assault weapons” Foley obeyed.

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