Feb 11, 2013
Tea Party House Republicans Out of Step on Gun Violence Prevention
“I see this whole gun issue as an opportunity, not a toxic landmine.”
– President Bill Clinton [Washington Post, 2/8/13]
If there is anything we have learned in the past two years, it is that no one should underestimate the Tea Party Republicans’ willingness to inflict damage on their party. The Tea Party tendency to careen away from mainstream Americans – seen most starkly on issues from rape to government default – will surface again in House Republicans’ tone-deaf approach to addressing gun violence.
On the eve of a major grassroots push in favor of gun violence prevention, it’s clear that Tea Party House Republicans will maintain their out-of-touch approach and obstruct sensible reforms to reduce gun violence that most Americans support – undermining their party’s appeal, hurting their candidates and endangering suburban Republican seats.
Americans believe that no mother or father should ever have to endure the suffering that the families from Sandy Hook are going through, and they are willing to take a reasonable approach to the issue of gun violence. While Democratic candidates and incumbents will reflect the values of their districts, Tea Party Republicans will reflect extreme ideology and the gun manufacturers lobby.
Polling shows strong public support across party lines for sensible gun reforms that will reduce gun violence. Tea Party House Republicans are again defending indefensible positions.
- Supporting sensible measures to reduce gun violence could encourage more women to vote in midterm elections. According to pollsters for the Women Donors Network, “women who may not ordinarily vote in a non-presidential year are among those most engaged with issues of gun violence.” [Women Donors Network, 2/5/13]
- “On gun control, there is overwhelming 92-7 percent support for background checks for all gun buyers…. Support for universal background checks is 91-8 percent among voters in a household with a gun. Voter support 52-43 percent stricter nationwide gun control laws. 56 percent support a ban on the sale of high capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds; 40 percent do not.” [Quinnipiac, 2/7/13]
- Polling last month showed virtually identical results. According to a New York Times/CBS poll, 92 percent of Americans support background checks on all potential gun buyers. Support for universal background checks went across party lines: 89 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats and independents were in favor, as well as 93 percent of gun households and 85 percent of those living in a household with a member of the National Rifle Association. [NYT/CBS, 1/17/13]
- Fifty-six percent believe that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, compared with a combined 42 percent who want them less strict or kept the same. That’s the most support on this particular question since 2006, according to recent NBC/WSJ poll. [NBC/WSJ, 1/17/13]
Even a few Republican officials and strategists are highlighting the dangers of the out-of-touch Tea Party approach to sensible gun measures, saying the obstruction will alienate mainstream voters their party needs:
- Steve LaTourette: “I think the Republican Party, at its peril, is seen as in the pocket of the NRA and not willing to engage in the conversation. We haven’t fixed our problem as a party with women. And women don’t quite understand why the Republican Party, in my opinion, is so resistant to doing what the Supreme Court said in the Heller decision … that yes, the Second Amendment is an individual right that needs to be protected just like the right to free speech and the right to have a jury trial but you can have reasonable regulations upon that right. To just say, ‘No, we’re not even going to have a conversation,’ that’s a perception [the GOP] shouldn’t have,” he said.” [Talking Points Memo, 2/5/13]
- Joe Scarborough: “If they keep their feet in cement, they’re going to be run over – not by Joe Biden, but these polls show by Middle America, by gun owners, by people that want to protect their children when they’re at school.” [Morning Joe, 1/15/13]
- John Weaver: “Newtown changed everything, as well it should. The GOP would be wise to get reacquainted with the country.” [@JWGOP, 1/16/13]
- Chris Christie called the NRA’s ad attacking the President “reprehensible”. “I think any of us who are public figures, you see that kind of ad and you cringe.” House Republicans have been silent on the attack. [POLITICO, 1/17/13]
In fact, House Republicans’ silence continues to allow gang members, the mentally ill and even potential domestic terrorists to purchase guns without a background check or ID requirement. With police officers and other law enforcement groups supporting reasonable action to reduce gun violence, Tea Party House Republicans also run the risk of being seen as anti-law-and-order.
While the gun safety debate plays out, Republicans in critical suburban districts around the country will play defense, as socially moderate families concerned about safety demand commonsense measures to protect their children.