Your average Congresscritter has about as much cranial capacity as a bag of hammers. Like the hedgehog, they know one important thing: never say or do anything that will endanger your stream of campaign cash or rile up your opposition in the run-up to an election. Which nicely explains why the Senate’s Chief Minority Hedgehog, New York’s Charles Schumer, is advising his fellow Democrats to ease off the post-Las Vegas gun control push.
Say what you will about Chuckie, he’s much more like the fox than the hedgehog. He knows from decades of experience that gun control is a sure-fire electoral loser for Dems.
Schumer, focused on next year’s midterm elections, thinks it is smarter to focus on economics — specifically President Trump’s tax plan, which Democrats say is a giveaway to corporations and the rich, and GOP proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid.
But that kind of realpolitik isn’t sitting well with the hard left’s activist zealots and some of the party’s dimmest legislative bulbs.
“Democrats need to find courage and learn to speak to the issue,” said Ladd Everitt, director of 1Pulse4America, a gun-violence prevention group created after the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016.
“There’s a lot of anger in this movement about the response from Democrats right now. People think it’s totally inadequate,” he added.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) tweeted Wednesday night that the country should be talking about answers to gun violence.
“The deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history was 16 days ago,” she wrote. “Conversations about gun violence have faded. We can’t accept that.”
Like the senior senator from New York, Democrat strategists have learned the hard way that touching the third rail of gun control can lead to third degree electoral burns. It’s one of the major reasons the GOP finally took control of the House in 1994 after the Clinton assault weapons ban.
After 20 children and six adults were murdered in Newtown, Dems once again thought the horror of the event would provide the necessary public support they’d need to reenact another black rifle ban. But even with bipartisan sponsorship they couldn’t even manage a “universal background check” bill.
And after the Pulse Nightclub massacre occurred in the heat of the 2016 presidential campaign, Dems — and particularly Hillary Clinton — convinced themselves that the time to push for gun control had finally arrived. How did that work out for them?
The moral of this long, sordid story: even single cell organisms are smart enough to turn away from heat. Which is why Senator Schumer looks at the proposals to ban bump fire stocks, limit magazine capacity and outlaw “assault weapons” and is warning his fellow donkeys to run the other way. Fast.
“I see why he doesn’t want to (get behind gun control),” David Saunders, who has advised former Democratic presidential candidates Jim Webb and John Edwards, said of Schumer’s avoidance of the gun control measures.
“He’s one of the few people up there who can count,” he joked.
Chuckie knows that no matter how motivated gun control supporters may seem, they don’t hold a candle to the level of commitment of gun owners in protecting their Second Amendment rights.
Saunders warned that even though polls might show that various gun control proposals have strong support, the minority of people who oppose them often wield more political clout because they are more motivated.
“The 28 percent that don’t want it are single-issue voters and that’s why the gun numbers are so deceiving for people,” he said.
Saunders said many of those single-issue voters live in some of the Senate swing states that will determine which party controls the upper chamber in the future.
In the end, maybe the Democrats’ best friends in terms of saving them from themselves will be Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. As the GOP controls both houses of Congress, it seems unlikely that any of the proposed gun control bills will make it as far as a floor vote, where Dems would be forced to go on the record as supporting restrictions on civilian gun ownership. Maybe that should be allowed to happen.