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NAT’L – GUN POLITICS – After Kenosha & Portland, Why Aren’t We Talking About Guns?

The killings on the streets of Kenosha, Wis., and Portland, Ore., by gun-toting, self-appointed ministers of justice bolster one of the main arguments made by gun control advocates: widespread access to guns leads to needless death. In both cases, confrontations between political opponents quickly escalated, shots were fired, and people died. Further, the Kenosha shooting involved a semi-automatic “assault” rifle, in a state with an open carry law (though the 17-year-old shooter, Kyle Rittenhouse, is one year short of being able to legally open carry in the state). Yet the shootings have not sparked a fresh dialogue about gun control. We are not spending much time at all debating background checks, assault weapons bans or open carry laws. Why aren’t we talking about guns? Chiefly, because the presidential candidates aren’t talking about guns. Donald Trump is busy blaming Joe Biden and Democratic mayors for failing to crack down on rioting and looting, while Biden is blaming Trump for fueling divisiveness. Biden, as the candidate with a long record of supporting gun control, is the one you might expect to emphasize the issue. But he apparently does not see the political gain in doing so. Biden wants to frame the election as a choice between a uniter and a divider, between an incumbent who is constantly polarizing America, and a challenger who will remind Americans of our common purpose. He can’t easily run as a de-polarizer and stress gun control, because the gun debate inflames our cultural polarization. It’s hard to fault Biden’s political logic. He wants to win big — not just to win the presidency and Congress for Democrats, but also to encourage any remaining Republicans in the Senate to cooperate with his agenda. He said during a July fundraiser, “If we win as big as we possibly can, there’s going to be a great, great epiphany that’s going to take place. Republicans are going to begin to wonder … by just being obstructionist, whether they’re going to lose the rest of that blue-collar vote out there in the nation.” In turn, Biden wants to draw Republicans into his fold, and help Democratic Senate challengers in red states such as Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas. Hammering the gun issue is not the best way to flip those seats.  [full article]

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