Gun control activists are growing increasingly frustrated with the fact that even with Democrats in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, their agenda is still in doubt on Capitol Hill. A new piece at POLITICO highlights the palpable sense of desperation starting to emanate from anti-gun organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and its affiliate Moms Demand Action, where activists know that their window of opportunity to put new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms is closing. The razor-thin Democratic majority in the House and Senate could very well disappear after the 2022 midterms, and activists
For the gun reform movement — a centerpiece of the Democratic Party’s agenda for at least a quarter century — the question this week has become, if not now, when?
“This is the moment,” said Shannon Watts, founder of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action. “The NRA is sidelined by bankruptcy, and we have a gun-sense trifecta in the White House, the Senate and the House.”
… It’s a pivotal moment for gun politics. The history of midterm elections suggests Democrats are at risk of losing the House next year, shrinking their window for legislative victories.
“The time is definitely now,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of the gun-control group Giffords. “We can’t wait.”
There’s a muddled message coming from the anti-gun advocates. On the one hand, they say that now is the time, knowing that they’re likely to lose ground in next year’s elections, but they’re still trying to spin their movement as one that’s growing in popularity across the country.
Tom Sullivan, a Colorado state lawmaker who sought elected office after his son, Alex, was killed in the Aurora theater shooting in 2012, said the climate surrounding gun legislation has “obviously” shifted — as evidenced by his own election and those of other survivors of victims of gun violence, including Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, whose teenage son was shot to death in 2012. Gun control was a winning issue for Democrats in some congressional swing districts nationally in the midterm elections in 2018.
“We can run on this issue, and we can win elections on this issue,” Sullivan said. “Quite obviously, the tone has changed.”
Sullivan’s comments ignore the fact that, despite spending tens of millions of dollars in states like Iowa, Minnesota, and Texas in an attempt to flip state legislatures into anti-gun majorities, the 2020 elections actually resulted in Republican gains at the state level. Republicans in Iowa just sent a Constitutional Carry bill to the desk of Gov. Kim Reynolds, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for (and is likely to receive) a Second Amendment Sanctuary measure from lawmakers in Austin.
At the federal level, Democrats and gun control activists lost ground in the House, and were it not for the absolute sh*tshow in the Georgia Senate runoffs, Republicans would still be in control of the U.S. Senate. The gun control movement didn’t receive a mandate in the 2020 elections, but they have to act like they did because they know that they’re likely to be in an even worse position after the midterms.
In that sense, the gun control groups are right that this is the best position for the movement in decades, but that doesn’t mean that they’re still in a great position to get what they want. As long as it still takes 60 votes to pass most legislation through the Senate, the prospects for new gun control laws is murky at best. That’s why you’ll be seeing more calls from gun control groups to nuke the filibuster in the coming days and weeks.
The gun control debate has put more pressure on Democrats to abandon the legislative filibuster in the Senate, broadening the range of constituencies lobbying for the change. Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter was killed in Aurora and who now advocates on behalf of survivors of gun violence, said, “The best thing that can happen right now — the one thing I would give everything up for — is get rid of the filibuster so we can pass some laws.”
If the filibuster goes away, the least of our worries will be the passage of gun control bills like H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. At that point, Democrats would try to ram through Biden’s gun ban and a host of new infringements on our Second Amendment rights, while also passing legislation like H.R. 1 that’s designed to ensure a permanent Democratic majority in Congress. One party rule is completely antithetical to the very idea of the United States, and it would be nothing less than a legislative coup. I’m not worried about my Second Amendment rights if the filibuster were to disappear. I’m worried about the future of the nation itself.
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