Democrats all over the nation are running on gun control right now. They’re arguing that we need tougher gun laws, and they’re convinced that Parkland is the incident that will make people see that they’re right.
However, a Colorado House district has had more than enough reason to vote in favor of gun control. After all, being the home of two high-profile mass shootings should do it, if anything will.
Colorado’s most competitive congressional district holds an infamous distinction in the history of American mass shootings: It was where 12 students and a teacher were gunned down at Columbine High School in 1999 and where 12 died in the Aurora movie theater massacre in 2012.
These tragedies have produced some of the nation’s loudest calls for tighter gun control in the past two decades, yet voters in the metro Denver district have in the past five elections backed Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and someone who has won backing from the National Rifle Association.
This juxtaposition is one that Democrats want to spotlight in their latest effort to dislodge the incumbent — a potentially risky move in a state where firearms are often a political third rail and an issue that hasn’t helped the party win the 6th Congressional District seat in years past.
But gun control advocates and others on the left say it may work in November because they see a shift in attitudes toward firearm regulations in the wake of recent shootings, such as the one at a Parkland, Fla., high school that sparked a series of marches in Washington, D.C., Denver and many other cities across the U.S. and around the world.
The attitudes haven’t shifted as much as gun control advocates like to think.
For one thing, gun control just isn’t that high up on most voters priorities. While they may favor gun control at this point, it’s not the topic that’s going to decide how they vote in November.
Further, support for gun control is currently trending downward. As per usual, people get worked up after a mass shooting, probably because the media bombards them with “experts” talking about just how easy it is to get these guns and how awful people are for having them. But then other news claims the news cycle. People stop getting near constant propaganda and start listening to actual debates. They start to see how gun laws already existed to prevent the tragedy, but people dropped the ball. They wonder why new laws will be needed.
By the time November happens, things will be different.
It’s why gun control isn’t really anyone’s best move as a campaign priority. Even people who live in anti-gun districts don’t need to run on gun control. Yes, they need to make pro-gun control noises and make pro-gun control votes, but even they have bigger priorities. They’re worried about jobs, retirement, healthcare, or any number of other issues.
And these are the friendlies.
Frankly, about the only people who get spun up over a gun control candidate are the gun rights voters. They’ll oppose a candidate for no other reason than their lack of support for the Second Amendment, but there’s virtually no opposite side there. Few voters will pick a candidate solely for their position as pro-gun control.
That’s what’s happened in Colorado through the years, and I suspect that’s what will happen again this year. I’m not alone in that thinking.
“Democrats are making the bet that somehow, post-Parkland, times have changed,” said Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst in Denver. “They didn’t change post-Columbine, they didn’t change post-Sandy Hook and they didn’t change after a dozen other incidents. In the past, not only did the issue not work, but if you flash back to the early part of this century, there was a backlash to this issue.”
Got it in one.