We’re just two months away from Election Day, and the gun owner vote could play an outsized role in races around the country thanks to the anti-gun agenda of the Democratic ticket and an influx of new gun owners in several battleground states. I had the opportunity recently to sit down with PJMedia’s Stephen Kruiser on his Kruiser Kabana podcast to talk about the role that Second Amendment supporters can play in the elections, and where they might have the biggest impact.
One of the first states we look at is Arizona, where Mark Kelly is leading in polls against incumbent senator Martha McSally. While Arizona’s traditionally been one of the strongest states in the union when it comes to support for the Second Amendment, Kelly’s campaign is benefitting from a couple of things.
First, there’s the fame factor. Kelly has a high profile as an astronaut and the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Low information voters may end up voting for him, not because of his stance on issues, but because of simple name recognition.
Democrats also have a strong narrative that appeals to their anti-gun base: Giffords was nearly murdered in a shooting back in 2011 that left six dead and fifteen injured, and in recent years has become one of the most vocal proponents for gun control in the country. The Left sees a compelling story of sending her husband to Congress to pass gun control laws, and soft supporters of gun control may find that narrative compelling, particularly given the vague promises of “commonsense gun safety laws” featured on Kelly’s campaign website.
Kelly isn’t running a campaign focused on gun control. In fact, on the “Issues” page of his campaign website, “Gun Safety” is near the bottom of the page. His website also doesn’t talk much about any particular piece of legislation, focusing instead on empty phrases like “taking on the gun lobby” while expressing support for universal background check laws and “allowing families and law enforcement to ensure dangerous individuals and people in crisis don’t have access to firearms,” which is a rather long-winded way of saying he backs red flag firearm seizure laws that allow guns to be taken from people who haven’t even been accused of a crime.
Polling in Arizona has been all over the place, with the last two polls showing Kelly either tied with McSally or leading by a whopping 19 points. I don’t think his lead is that high, but a lead of 4-6 points at the moment isn’t out of the question. Can gun owners help McSally close the gap?
Maybe, though as I explained to Kruiser, Second Amendment voters aren’t superheroes. We can’t save bad candidates from themselves, and there are a couple of things that I’d do if I were advising the McSally campaign when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. First, there’s absolutely no mention of the Second Amendment (or any other issues) on her campaign website, and that should be addressed right away.
McSally also needs to be talking more on the campaign trail about the gun control laws that Kelly would back if elected, and what it would mean for Arizona voters. Obviously she needs to keep in mind Kelly’s background and the narrative that I mentioned earlier in this piece, but there’s a way to do that without attacking the character of either Kelly or his spouse, which would likely alienate the moderate voters that she’s courting.
I’d start with Kelly’s support for universal background check laws, and point out that in neighboring New Mexico, not a single person has been charged with violating the state’s background check law in the year that the law’s been in place. Yes, we need to be serious about addressing violent crime, but a universal background check law is a completely unserious suggestion. It may poll well among non-gun owners, but it doesn’t actually do anything to stop violent criminals.
The conversation about Arizona is really just the jumping off point for a much broader and longer conversation, so be sure to check out the entire podcast with Stephen Kruiser and myself in the widget above, and thanks as always for being a VIP member of Townhall Media and Bearing Arms!