We just had an eminent left-leaning jurist promoting the idea on the op-ed page of the paper of record. Seems like fair game! If congressional Republicans can be cornered for reaction every time some party member brain-farts a hot take about a divisive issue, our fearless media should be able to twist some Democratic arms over just how far they’re willing to go to take guns out of the hands of midterm voters.
There’s just one problem.
Some members of that media are too busy reassuring themselves that no one is proposing this idea despite John Paul Stevens having proposed it literally yesterday.
this is a lot of bunk. no one calling for 2A repeal. stop with the bogeymen. we need to stop the shootings and have a rational conversation about what can be done. https://t.co/P2MYoY4EtO
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) March 28, 2018
No one’s calling for Second Amendment repeal? Here’s data from YouGov that’s a month old. Question: Do you favor or oppose repealing the Second Amendment?
Democrats are essentially evenly split. You can dismiss that result as an outlier if you like by noting that the poll was conducted within two weeks of the Parkland massacre, when people were apt to be more emotional. But even if you discount for emotion, what’s the Democratic baseline likely to be on this issue? Maybe a quarter of the party that’s likely to be back in charge of the House this fall?
Still, if you’re looking to make liberal politicians squirm, there are better questions than asking if they want the Second Amendment repealed. It’s easy-ish to say no to that since (a) Americans tend to get nervous when repealing a constitutional amendment is on the table and (b) it damages the incrementalist effort to ban guns by lunging too soon for a maximalist solution. Even leftists who want the Second Amendment gone would forgive Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren — or an imperiled red-stater like Joe Manchin — for opposing repeal publicly. The most important thing to them now is to reclaim political power and a quixotic move to upend the constitutional scheme that has zero chance of success would risk that. Look at it this way: How many liberals who want nothing short of single-payer were happy to support the half-measure public-private solution of ObamaCare in 2010? They play the long game, knowing what’s politically feasible at a particular moment and what isn’t.
A more interesting question would be to ask if they support banning semiautomatic weapons, or at least semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15. They’re all-in on banning “assault weapons” but “assault weapons” is a slippery category, often defined by minor cosmetic changes to semiautomatic rifles. Ask them if it’s time to dispense with fine distinctions and get rid of all AR-15s and their semiautomatic cousins instead. That’s a harder question for a Democratic pol because there’s already *lots* of support within the party for that idea. The same YouGov poll I mentioned above found 82 percent(!) in favor of banning all semiautomatic weapons. Weapons, not just rifles.
Maybe liberal voters would give Manchin and other red-state Dems a pass on opposing a ban like that since they’re fighting their electoral battle on enemy territory. But what about Sanders, Warren, Biden, and the rest of the class of 2020? They’re fighting on a national landscape, one in which Hillary Clinton won more votes than Donald Trump two years ago. Presidential candidates ideally are expected to push Big Ideas and visions for the national future. Would the left let its nominee slide on semiautomatics in the name of staying competitive in places like Michigan and Pennsylvania or does it really believe the Stoneman Douglas kids are going to nudge the country towards an anti-gun majority that would make a “ban all AR-15s” push before 2020 a political winner? Let’s find out.
Here’s the clip. Graham talks about guns at around 7:00.