Thanks to the resurgence of the far left in Democratic politics this year, gun control will be front and center at their convention and in Hillary Clinton’s campaign from here until November. That’s just a given, right? Even when we have an Islamic terror attack on our own soil or criminals are murdering police officers right and left, the Democrats find a way to use that as an excuse to call for more gun control laws. So be prepared to hear plenty of that talk all the way through the election.
Or… maybe not. Rather than suffering self-inflicted wounds, the Democrats have been listening to the public relations advice of some of their own gun grabbing groups and are being advised to tone it down a little. (Politico)
While Democrats think they have a winning election-year issue, a group led by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and her husband, Mark Kelly, is pushing to rebrand their effort — based on poll and focus-group data — in the hope that it will take root in an American culture that has long accepted gun ownership, if not revered it in parts of the country. It’s a cultural linkage that’s likely to be highlighted Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, as the top lobbyist for the NRA plans to take the stage, as will Donald Trump Jr., who has touted his affinity for hunting.
With that in mind, representatives from a broad mix of progressive groups sat around a table last week at the Washington offices of Global Strategy Group, where they received a tutorial on how — and how not — to talk about guns. Leading the lesson were top officials from Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, the campaign wing of the group Giffords and Kelly founded after the Sandy Hook massacre.
Let’s give credit where credit is due here. These folks aren’t entirely tone deaf and they can read poll numbers as well as anyone else. Restricting the rights of gun owners is a losing proposition across most of the nation and particularly in some of the critical swing states. Coming on too strong simply drives up gun sales and depresses turnout at the ballot box. They know this, so they’re preparing to fine tune their message for the fall.
This is a smart move on their part. One poll after another shows that American value the preservation of gun rights more than stricter gun control. It’s true that you can find majorities willing to answer vaguely worded surveys in support of concepts like “closing gun show loopholes” or “more background checks” but when you drill down to the realities underlying those proposals, most Americans grow increasingly skeptical. If that’s where the Democrats hang their hat this fall they’ll run into trouble and they’re clearly in the process of figuring that out.
The bottom line is that we should be prepared for different language from Hillary Clinton in the near future. As per the results of this meeting, you’ll see her stop referring to the National Rifle Association (which remains far more popular than her) and talking instead about “the gun lobby.” I’d love to hear a journalist ask her precisely what that means because she’s unlikely to have an answer. The only suggestion thus far doesn’t sound promising.
“The NRA has great favorabilities in a lot of places,” said Global Strategy Group Jeff Pollock, pointing to the 144-year-old organization’s popular — and apolitical — hunting and safety training programs.
Stick to stressing “the gun lobby” as a special interest out to “protect the profits” of manufacturers, Pollock told the assembled representatives of Priorities USA, NARAL, AFSCME and the Senate and House Majority PACs. A strategist from the Democratic side of Google’s political consulting operation was also there.
That’s the best you’ve got? You’re going to accuse a loose association of businesses of wanting to “protect their profits?” Oh, the horror! Imagine the nerve of a business wanting to show a profit.
All I can say is that it’s going to be an interesting set of debates this fall.