The state of Pennsylvania has shaped up to be quite the battleground state when it comes to gun rights. While it boasts two massive urban areas–Pittsburg and Philadelphia–it also tends to have a fairly pro-gun lean to the legislature. Or, at least, it has up until now.
While pro-gun lawmakers have been able to hold their ground despite Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s preferences, it seems that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun organization has decided to get into the mix.
In particular, he’s planning on dropping a cool million to try and swing the state.
The political arm of an anti-gun-violence group cofounded by the billionaire former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg says it will spend at least $1 million to help Democrats try to gain control of the Pennsylvania legislature in the November elections.
Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund said Wednesday it would aim to oust Republican lawmakers in Harrisburg who “have refused to take action on common-sense gun safety legislation” like strengthening background checks.
“We see Pennsylvania as one of the most important battleground states for gun safety in 2020,” Charlie Kelly, senior political adviser for Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund, said in an interview Wednesday. “After yet another year without action on gun safety, I think that the Pennsylvania state House and state Senate are absolutely in play.”
Pennsylvania is already considered a crucial swing state in the presidential election, but the fight over gun laws underscores how some Democrats and progressive groups see an opportunity to expand their ambitions beyond merely defeating President Donald Trump.
Of course, that’s only part of it. While the national election looms large, the hope is also to unseat some pro-gun lawmakers at the state level and turn Pennsylvania into an anti-gun state, much like what happened in Virginia.
Now, can Bloomberg and company do it?
I’d love to tell you no, but Virginia illustrates that one shouldn’t be too sure of it. As noted earlier, Pennsylvania has two large urban centers. These are strongholds for anti-gun sentiment and can have a huge impact on a state’s politics. The fact that Pennsylvania isn’t rabidly anti-gun already is kind of a miracle as it is.
That means Bloomberg and company have a real shot here.
However, urban doesn’t automatically mean leftist. A number of people in these cities harbor pro-gun sympathies. While they may not be enough to sway local politics, they join with their partners in the rural parts of the state to make a real difference. It’s entirely possible that they’ll be enough to carry the day despite Bloomberg’s efforts.
What we can’t do, however, it take a “wait and see” approach. Instead, pro-gunners should prepare themselves for battle. They’d best take this seriously before anti-gun activists make Pennsylvania into Virginia Part 2. Take it seriously and fight it like you’re the only trying to take control. Only then can you be confident of victory.
Even then, it’s best to play like you’re behind regardless of what the polls tell you.