In an extraordinary turnaround, fueled no doubt by a series of mass shootings that have devastated communities across the U.S., Democrats in previously gun-friendly districts are taking on the powerful National Rifle Association in their campaign speeches and finding voters approve.
According to a report in the New York Times, a harbinger of the waning power of the NRA can be seen in the state that contains the site of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre as well as the 2012 Aurora movie shooting where a 4-time-elected pro-NRA congressman is about to be ousted.
The report states that Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman, who boasts about his “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and rakes in more campaign contributions from the NRA “than any other member of Colorado’s congressional delegation,” is trailing in the polls by 9 percent.
His opponent is Army vet Jason Crow, a Democrat who has unabashedly called for ban assault weapons, expand background checks and restrict high-capacity magazines — all of which have been fiercely opposed by the NRA.
The Times notes that Crow is tapping into a popular opinion as Americans have become appalled about the mass shootings that have left a bloody stain on the country with Gallup reporting that 61 percent of those polled — including gun owners — want stricter gun laws. Support for universal background checks and red-flag laws poll substantially higher.
According to Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, “So many candidates for Congress, particularly women, are running on this issue — not just making it part of their platform and not just supporting it, but actually running on it.”
One of them is Amber Gustafson, a gun owner and a former Republican, running for majority leader of the Iowa Senate as a Democrat.
“I say, ‘I’m a gun owner’ — and I always put my hand over my heart — ‘and I care about the Second Amendment, but I also want to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them,’” she explained. She added that she supports universal background checks and taking guns away from people if that person’s relatives or law enforcement state that they pose an immediate threat.
According to Gustafson, her opponent, state Senator Jack Whitver (R), supported a bill that would have gutted Iowa’s gun purchase permitting system.
Aurora resident Jessica Price, who taught some of the teenagers who were in the theater during the shooting, put the sea change in attitudes on guns in perspective.
“As somebody who’s grown up in this community, who has lived through many of our community tragedies,” she said, “I have never seen the energy around this issue like it is now.”
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