While urban centers have long tended to be anti-gun, despite often having a first-hand observation of gun control’s many failures, the suburbs and rural parts of the country tend to counter that a fair bit.
Amid a debate within the Democratic Party about whether progressive ideas can sway voters in suburbia, candidates affiliated with an advocacy group that campaigns against gun violence sought — and won — elected office even in historically conservative suburban districts.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America appealed to suburban women on overhauling gun laws amid a rash of mass shootings in recent years, including the one in Parkland, Florida, in February.
The organization advocates so-called red-flag laws and banning bump stocks and assault weapons, and it opposes allowing guns on college campuses. It plans to achieve those policy aims by campaigning aggressively in future election cycles.
“Exit polling is still being parsed, but one thing is clear: In an election where women voters were crucial in swaying the balance of power, gun violence prevention was a priority issue for women from all walks of life,” the group’s founder, Shannon Watts, wrote about the midterm elections. “Gun violence isn’t a right-or-left issue — it’s a life-or-death issue.”
Putting that theory to practice, Moms Demand Action launched a formal training program last year for volunteers interested in running for office — an ambitious new stage for the six-year-old organization. It’s just one sign of the group’s growing influence: Everytown for Gun Safety, its parent organization, and Giffords PAC, another gun control group, outspent the National Rifle Association this midterm cycle.
The groups say views on guns in America’s suburbs have altered in a way that is unfavorable to the guns rights movement, especially among women. And that shift coincides with gun rights groups becoming increasingly aligned with the Republican Party.
My kneejerk reaction is to tell Shannon that she’s out of her mind, as per usual, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
You see, I blew it with one key race. I was sure Lucy McBath was going to get trounced by Karen Handel. I just knew it.
I was wrong.
That was a suburban district that has been solidly Republican for years. That particular seat once belonged to Newt Gingrich, after all. It was as staunchly Republican as you could get.
Handel also didn’t make major gaffes or mistakes during her time in office, either. She held her seat and did a solid job. There was no reason Handel should’ve lost.
But she did.
Now, that’s only a single data point, but it’s indicative that maybe I’ve been too complacent. I’ve been too comfortable with the status quo, and I know I’m not alone. Maybe it’s time to step back and examine what the hell happened.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still think the Democrats’ gains were modest and more indicative of normal election cycles than anything else, but that doesn’t mean pro-gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association should play defense. It’s time to begin fighting back, to lay down the arguments and the reality. Ads featuring women who defended themselves with guns should be at least part of the effort to counter the fearmongering.
For once, Watts may be right, and we’d do well to start fighting back before it’s too late.