In this political convention season, both parties have gun regulation in their sights, but with different targets. Last week GOP nominee Donald Trump and other speakers warned that if Hillary Clinton is elected, she will destroy the Second Amendment. This week Clinton and especially her vice presidential choice, Tim Kaine, will point to recent terrifying incidents of violence to argue for sensible gun restrictions.
Democrats are right on this issue, and Republicans are wrong. And polls continue to show voters in both parties agree.
Eight years ago, conservatives warned that Barack Obama would come for their guns. The National Rifle Association ran ads saying Obama would create a “huge new tax on my guns and ammo.” As a result, gun sales increased dramatically. Gun regulations did not.
This time is no different. What is different are results of an Associated Press-GfK poll released last week that show 66 percent of Republicans and those who lean to Republicans support background checks for gun-show or private purchases, while 87 percent of Democrats and those who lean to that party do; and 71 percent in the Republican category want to ban sales to people on terror watch lists, while 84 percent in Democratic category do. Most Americans, however, won’t support banning handguns and making manufacturers liable for guns used in crimes.
But what really sticks out is the trend line: In 2009, 55 percent of voters said laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the public’s right to bear arms. Now, that has fallen to 43 percent. Politicians need to pay attention to voters, but voters also need to pay attention to candidates, and not just at the presidential level. Americans want sensible restrictions. So should the House and Senate members they elect. — The editorial board