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Friday, December 02, 2005

The DU Gun Rights Crowd

I bet the staff of the NY Times would have a collective stroke if they read the Democratic Underground Guns forum. Here's a recent topic started by someone who believes that the Democrats' anti-gun position has really hurt the party. Part of the original post:
How badly has the anti-gun position hurt the Democratic Party? I am asking this about specific elections in which the gun issue played a pivotal role.

For example, the 1992 AWB played a large role in the disaster of the 1994 elections, from which we have not yet recovered. Clinton himself said that several of the congressperson that had voted for the AWB paid for it with their political careers.

The gun issue cost Gore his home state of TN and made FL as close as it was.

Kerry had to try to diffuse the gun issue by a hunting photo-op, and like most photo-op during a campaign, it backfired. If you have to do a photo-op to shore up a sagging area, it serves to point out that the area is sagging. His photo-op pointed out that he had voted FOR every piece of gun control legislation that came up for a vote.
and a follow-up comment:
9. In my state (NC) it sure as heck does... considering that a majority of registered Democrats here in NC probably own guns, not to mention independent swing voters. And of course, the majority are not hunters.

When you consider that nationally, about 40% of households own guns...and ALL such gun owners are people of voting age. At least one third of registered Democrats are gun owners, and among some groups that percentage is far higher (blue-collar union workers in pro-gun states, for example; 80% of Tennessee union members are gun owners, again mostly nonhunters).

Our pro-gun Democratic governor easily won NC in the 2004 election (55% to 45%, IIRC), even as the presidential ticket (which had run on a vocally anti-gun platform) lost by about the same margin. Erskine Bowles, President Clinton's former chief of staff and an eloquent, nationally recognized figure, campaigned on an anti-gun platform for NC's open Senate seat and lost to a no-name Repub largely on the gun issue. But most of the NRA-endorsed Dems won here.
and someone from MI:
Trust me, I have run for state office in Michigan and I never was asked how I was going to limit or control guns by a voter. But on a daily basis I would be asked if I supported the 2nd amendment. It doesn't take long to realize that the pro-gun/NRA folks are doing a much better job getting the message out to their people.
and an interesting comment from NH:
19. Dick Sweat (D) narrowly lost to Bob Smith (r) here in NH Sweat was a Congressman who pledged to oppose the AWB, then turned and voted for it. He ran for Senate against wacky, wing-nut Bob Smith and narrowly lost. He was hammered constantly throughout the campaign on his AWB vote. The election was so close that it was actually called in Sweat's favor, then, the returns from the small rural towns came in... The campaign team had popped the champaign and everything. It was a real kick in the nuts and I for one am convinced that had Sweat honored his word and opposed the AWB he would have been Senator.

Anecdotal I know, but representative of the effect that the gun issue has on elections at least in my state.
My feeling is that gun-owners care about the right to own them and take gun-control measures aimed at non-criminals as a mortal and highly personal insult. Everyone approves of measures keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. But when you start cutting into the rights of individual law-abiding people to own them, they feel as if they are being told that they aren't trusted. That's because they aren't.

I think this is a serious issue for the Dems, because it correlates with more than just guns. I am not a major pro-gun person, but I do watch candidate's position on the issue. I do that because people who don't trust the law-abiding citizen with a rifle won't trust the average citizen with free speech or the rest of the Bill of Rights either. Such people are all, to some degree, statists. And I try never to vote for those types. I never have and I never will. I do look at the NRA's ratings to see how people vote, because those votes generally carry a wider implication.

The national Democratic leadership really does have a strong tendency to regard citizens as "those poor stupid dears" (or ratfinks who vote Republican). They think we can't be trusted with our own religion. They think we need to have our attitudes adjusted in school. They think we can't be trusted with our own retirement accounts, when it is the politicians who have spent 22 years worth of Social Security surpluses. We could not do worse.

But many local Dems don't think this way, and my guess is that the national trend is turning to the local Dem and the Republicans. This is why I don't take polls very seriously. There is a hard core of people in this country who will never, ever think this way and who will never, ever stop voting the way they do.

To boot, world and national events are pushing the national mood more toward self-reliance. It's hard to look at the hurricanes and terrorism and not to realize that to some degree, we are each responsible for our own welfare. A swing of 2 - 5 percent will be very significant in national elections. I think at least 3 percent of the people in this country have been swung.

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