I’ve done a lot of media over the past couple of weeks talking about the Senate’s response to the mass murders in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, and one of the questions that inevitably comes up is “what do Republicans get out of this?” The deal doesn’t include any sort of sweeteners for gun owners, after all; no removing suppressors from the National Firearms Act, no national right to carry reciprocity, nothing that any 2A organization could point to and call a win.
My answer all along has been that politics, not policy, is what’s really behind the Senate gun deal. Republican negotiators may have wanted to water down the Democratic gun control proposals (and succeeded in doing so, to be honest), but they weren’t pushing for the inclusion of any actual pro-2A amendments because that wasn’t what this deal was all about. It’s about telling voters, particularly those in the muddled middle, that they “took action” to protect students in school and to reduce mass shootings at a time when support for new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms is ramping up among the electorate. Yes, we’re looking at a red wave election, but with crime and “gun violence” now one of the top concerns of voters (albeit behind the economy and inflation), guys like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell don’t want to give voters any reason to hold their nose and vote for the Democrat on the ballot this November.
There’s one group of voters in particular that McConnell is targeting with the Senate gun deal: suburbanites.
“It is no secret that we have lost ground in suburban areas,” McConnell said. “We pretty much own rural and small town America, and I think this is a sensible solution to the problem before us, which is school safety and mental health and, yes, I hope it will be viewed favorably by voters in the suburbs we need to regain in order to hopefully be a majority next year.”
More than two-thirds of Texas Republican voters approve of Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) job performance, according to a poll released on Thursday, despite heat he has received from former President Trump and others over his involvement in crafting bipartisan gun safety legislation.
The new Morning Consult survey, conducted June 11-20, found that 68 percent of registered Republican voters in the state approved of Cornyn’s job performance, the same percentage he received when respondents were last polled between May 14 and May 23.
A slightly higher percentage of Texas Republican voters have said they disapprove of the job Cornyn is doing, however — 17 percent give the senator a thumbs down in the latest poll, compared to 11 percent in May.
Cornyn was booed at the Texas GOP convention, but that animosity apparently isn’t shared by many of the less activist and more rank-and-file Republican voters. If Cornyn’s popularity among Texas Republicans isn’t taking a hit after leading the GOP side of the negotiations on the gun deal, McConnell can feel pretty confident that the same is true for the GOP writ large.