Gun control could be the glue to hold Democrats together

President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Connecticut on Friday to speak on one of the key issues uniting his ideologically and demographically diverse coalition: gun control.

Biden’s speech Friday at the National Safer Communities Summit in Hartford, hosted by major gun control groups, is not officially a campaign event. However, it comes as Biden kicks off the most intense period of political activity since announcing he would run for re-election in April, a day before the first official rally for his re-election bid.

A central problem facing Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s re-election bid is simple: Their coalition includes everyone from moderate suburban baby boomers to voter-anchored, progressive inner-city college students. blacks and latinos across the country. Gun control is a key issue that brings these disparate groups together.

Just in the past year and change, mass shootings have killed people in midwestern white communities, West Coast Asian Communities And Northeastern Urban Black Communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 49,000 Americans have died from gun violence in 2021, the most recent year for which figures are available. And as the number of gun deaths increases, so does the American willingness to engage it as a political issue.

“It can affect anyone. No one is safer anymore,” said Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, a national public opinion and Democratic political strategy research group that has worked with the campaign. Biden in 2020. “Whether you’re talking about your church, your workplace, your grocery store, your kids’ school.

She said the broad – and growing – impact of gun violence means it has cross-cutting appeal as a political issue.

“Gun violence becomes a great equalizer,” Lake said. Gun suicides in rural America, communal violence in urban areas, and mass shootings in public places do not discriminate between those injured or killed. “There’s just a sense that there’s now a broad reach of all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances,” she added.

Walkers with gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action, which has been calling for tougher restrictions on guns for a decade.

Walkers with gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action, which has been calling for tougher restrictions on guns for a decade.

Walkers with gun safety advocacy group Moms Demand Action, which has been calling for tougher restrictions on guns for a decade.

Polls indicate significant concern on the issue of gun violence, across all demographic groups: Figures from gun safety advocacy group Giffords in the fall of 2022 found that gun violence was a significant issue for 87% of suburban women voters, 76% of the population declaring that they were ‘concerned’ about shootings especially. The shootings were also a major concern for Hispanic and independent voters. Meanwhile, a Black To The Future Action Fund poll conducted in December 2022 and released in March 2023 found that 44% of black voters thought guns control legislation should be a priority for the Biden/Harris administration.

Even an April 2023 poll from Fox News, a medium that normally gun control poopfound that a majority of voters preferred stricter gun limits to arming themselves as a way to prevent gun violence.

Many of these demographics, of course, are part of the traditional Democratic constituencies. Lake said the issue of gun violence has the ability to connect multiple factions within the party.

“It can strengthen our persuasion strategies and our mobilization strategies,” she said, and strengthen the political platforms of other parties. “It can engage young people, it can engage African Americans, and it can persuade Latino voters who fear their children will be shot at school. We can mobilize Asian American voters. There are so many constituencies it can reach.

The consensus on sensible gun reform — specific policies, like preventing people with mental illness from buying guns or expanding background checks, having broad support – can also complement or add contrast to other big issues that voters care about, like abortion, crime and inflation. Lake notes that it’s hard to justify why postage of abortion pills is prohibitedbut one the case of 1,000 balls can be ordered online. And while crime remains a big concern for voters, it raises the question of how much crime overlaps with gun violence when 43% of gun deaths in the United States are murders.

Even the issues that seem to affect Americans across the board equally cannot match the weight of gun violence. “People think everyone is affected by inflation,” Lake said. “But it’s not… inflation doesn’t take your life.”

The list of speakers at the Safer Communities summit shows how gun control ties the Democratic coalition together: Sen. Chris Murphy, whose political roots lie in the upscale western Connecticut suburb, hosts the rally. Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Quinton Lucas, with his roots in the city’s impoverished East Side, is one of the speakers.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a hardline progressive, speaks just before Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), a member of the centrist NDP coalition and favorite of the moderate former mayor of New York , Michael. Bloomberg.

While gun control policies have been widely supported by Democrats, Republican politicians have largely withstood new regulations, in apparent fear of displeasing the vocal wing of the party that opposes gun regulations. Instead, in the aftermath of the shootings, Republicans were quick to call for investment in mental health.

This strategy had consequences: a poll by the progressive group Navigator Research in April 2023 – a report that includes the footnote that it was conducted entirely after a mass shooting, and entirely before a separate shooting two weeks later late – revealed that Democrats, including Biden, were more voter confidence on issues related to gun violence than Republicans. Crucially, that difference included a significant gap to independent voters, who trusted Democrats by an 18-point margin.

Yet in 2022, shortly after mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, the two sides were able to come together and pass the bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most comprehensive gun control legislation passed in the past 30 years. . The law project, implemented by a bipartisan task force, included investments in mental health and age restrictions on the purchase of firearms, as well as funding for community interventions. However, he passed the Congress with the support of all Democrats, but only 30 Republicans – 14 in the House and 15 in the Senate. Two weeks after the bill was passed, seven people were killed in a mass shooting at a 4th of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois. Friday’s summit is intended to shine a light on the legislation and its implementation.

“The sad thing is that nothing brings people together, sometimes, more than having something you have to respond to, some kind of tragedy,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of the advocacy group gun safety Moms Demand Action, one of the lobby groups leading Friday’s summit.

“Whether you come from a suburban area, you come from a more rural area, [or] you come from a big city. Even in these different spaces, we can always find common ground. And I think when we can also see proof of our work with things like [what’s] happens in states that sign major bills, then people can feel a sense of community together.

Victories have been a long time coming, she noted. “Starting this job, it was really difficult in many ways. One, because it was a third rail of politics and nobody really wanted to talk about it when you think about our leaders,” she said of founding Moms Demand Action in 2012, following the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 people, mostly children. “[In] the decade we’ve been through, the wonderful thing is, No. 1, it’s no longer a third rail of politics.

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