After the deadly shooting at the Orlando night club last year, Democrats quickly took up the House floor for a full day to protest the GOP’s refusal to take up new gun control laws. This time around they haven’t been as assertive in their actions and instead are demanding primarily that Republicans drop a gun silencer bill, reports Poltico. In fact, they are much more realistic about the prospects of passing gun control – it’s pointless. So they’re not even going to make a serious attempt this time.
This difference in approach shows the careful political landscape that Democrats now have to tread lightly on. It is easy for Democrats to blame Republicans for these mass shootings, but with upcoming midterm elections looming closer, Democrats have to be careful not to repel the very voters they need to regain control of congress again.
The Democrats have made no plans to elevate the issue of gun control currently. Also not to mention that their odds of ever winning a gun control debate, even when the both Houses weren’t controlled by Republicans, was very dim. So now the Democrats are making their goals a bit more attainable.
“I am calling on the president to come out against the absurd law about silencers. Threaten to veto it if he must and put an end to that bill,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
But it’s not like the Democrats haven’t asked for anything since the shooting in Las Vegas. They called for a bipartisan bill to expand background checks and requested the creation of a select committee to study gun violence. They just don’t expect anything to happen with it.
Several Democrats realize that it will be impossible to pass any sort of gun control legislation if they do not have any kind of Republican support on their side.
“It doesn’t seem to make a great difference at the ballot box, and that’s frustrating,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday.
House Democrats plan to meet on the Capitol steps Wednesday morning to honor the victims of the Los Angeles shooting and criticize the GOP inaction. Rep. John Lewis or Georgia, one of the architects of last years sit-in and former Rep. Gabby Giffords who was nearly killed in a mass shooting in 2011.
But this time around, the Democrats do not have any drastic protests planned and are less aggressive than last year.
“I think at this point, that’s probably not the best course of action for Democrats to take,” Rep. Linda Sánchez of California, vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters Tuesday.
Sanchez also noted that the idea didn’t even come up during a Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday when lawmakers discussed various responses to the shooting. It also seems unlikely that they will make gun control a central issue in the midterms either.
In the Democrats 2018 agenda they presented in July, dubbed “A Better Deal” it purposefully avoided divisive social issues like gun control.
“First and foremost, it’s an economic agenda,” Sanchez said. “While for some members gun violence will be a platform that they will talk a lot about, we want to emphasize the fact that Democrats have and always will continue to stand with working families.”
Chuck Schumer’s insistence that President Trump bury the GOP silencer bill offers Democrats a way to address the Las Vegas attack that speaks to the chamber’s handful of vulnerable incumbents facing tough reelections in deep-red states.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana is one of those Democrats, but has gotten a high score card from the National Rifle Association, since agreeing the they need to “hold off” on legislation until the Las Vegas shooting is fully investigated. Another vulnerable red-state Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, partnered with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) that fell just short of five votes in 2014 to pass a bipartisan gun bill.
While Toomey told reporters Tuesday that he still supports the measure, he understands that no progress can be made without support from the White House.
“It’s really going to take President Trump, who looks at something from a law-abiding gun owner’s standpoint, that makes common sense and gun sense, and puts his stamp of approval on it,” Manchin said.
Despite that most Democrats feel that a drawback from their previous approaches is appropriate now, their are some that don’t agree and don’t care about the risk of alienating moderate voters.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who led three other democrats on Tuesday in a public call for action on guns, is planning to propose a new background checks bill in coming days. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Tuesday that she is looking at legislative options to address the easy availability of so-called bump fire stocks, which law enforcement officials say the Las Vegas shooter used on at least one of his weapons to boost its rate of firing.