AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane
One of the latest anti-gun talking points has been that a reported large number of Republicans want gun control.
It’s been used over and over again in debates. It’s been used to justify claims that the majority of people want new gun control laws. It’s been used to claim that support for gun grabs are growing.
However, that support among Republicans isn’t growing like it once was, and without political cover, GOP lawmakers may not be likely to even touch gun control.
Support among Republican voters for stricter gun control laws has increased since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, but polling suggests that tide has ebbed, casting doubt on the prospect that Congress may pass meaningful gun reform when it returns next month.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll conducted roughly a week after the deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, found GOP voters are split, 47 percent in support and 45 percent in opposition, on the question.
That’s down from the first survey conducted after the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, when 53 percent supported stricter gun measures versus 42 percent opposed, and down even more from another post-Parkland survey that found 57 percent of Republicans — a Morning Consult record — backing enhanced gun control.
What’s more, the latest survey found that Republicans who oppose stricter gun measures are more energized than those who support it: Twenty-eight percent say they are “strongly” opposed, up 5 percentage points from the post-Parkland high, compared to 20 percent who said they “strongly support” such measures, down 5 points.
Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee spokesman, said GOP opponents of stricter gun control laws represent the party’s base — the people who reliably vote for Republican candidates and are loyal to Trump.
“So unless Trump weighs and leans in on a deal, telling his base, ‘You know I wouldn’t take your guns,’ it’s hard to see that dynamic changing,” he said in an email.
That would appease some in the base, but not others. Particularly the more vehement defenders of the Second Amendment.
Still, it’s not like those vehement defenders are going to back Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren for president out of spite, but the question remains, would Trump provide that kind of cover?
Well, as I noted yesterday, some don’t think he’d do it. Still others such as myself think he might.
However, if support among Republicans for gun control is dropping, then there’s even less of a chance of the president backing gun control. It’s one thing to do something that some in your base likes and others hate. It’s another when your base is split on an issue. Particularly when, as the article noted, one side is way more energized on the issue.
Without that GOP support within the base for gun control laws, it’s unlikely Trump will back much of anything.
Could the president merely be stalling for time, allowing some distance between El Paso and Dayton while pretending to give it considerable thought? Well, that’s impossible to know. However, it’s also something we can’t completely rule out either.
Regardless, with waning support for anti-gun measures, it’s unlikely anyone in the GOP is going to risk reelection just to make Democrats happy.