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Lindsey Graham’s political stock is soaring. Could his gun bill blow it? (VIDEO)

THE STATE.COM April 15, 2019 – U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham supports laws to temporarily revoke guns from people who might harm themselves or others, and he’s working on legislation that would give grants to states that pass such statutes. It’s a controversial position among gun rights advocates, but the South Carolina Republican’s not worried about alienating his base.

“Not my base,” he said of his opponents of this issue, adding they are the “the fringe of the fringe. “I think most Americans believe that multiple murderers shouldn’t have gun rights. Most Americans support background checks,” Graham continued. “The Second Amendment’s important to me, but it’s not a suicide pact.”

That Graham can talk this way about his constituents is a sign of his confidence in his standing in South Carolina — which explains how he can work on a hot-button social issue that once might have carried too much risk. A few years ago, Graham was expected to have a 2020 primary challenger. Now, fewer South Carolinians doubt his commitment to conservatism. Between his rallying defense of embattled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and his continued alliance with President Donald Trump, Graham is enjoying popularity with his base, possibly like never before.

According to a March 2019 survey from Winthrop University, Graham has a 74% approval rating among South Carolina Republicans. Compare that to October 2013, when Graham’s support among the state’s GOP was at 45%. This means, said veteran S.C. GOP strategist Dave Woodard, Graham “has some political capital now where he can do something without fear” of angering voters.

“He’s in a pretty good position to tackle something like this,” agreed Chip Felkel, another South Carolina Republican strategist. “Two years ago, he probably wasn’t.”

Woodard and Felkel said Graham still has to be careful not to go too far when it comes to guns or any other provocative social issue, namely immigration, where Graham has taken near-dire political hits for supporting so-called “amnesty.”

Graham is also likely aware of his political limits. Last year, he co-sponsored federal legislation to allow law enforcement and family members to petition the court for an “emergency risk protection order” to keep guns away from those deemed a danger to themselves and others.

Now up for reelection and the chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham just wants to pass a bill that would provide grants to states that enact their own protection order laws, saying that approach has the best chance for success. That narrow gun restriction also has the best chance of winning support from the powerful National Rifle Association, of which Graham — a gun owner who is traditionally supported by the organization — cannot afford to run afoul. [full article]

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