Winning the gun debate | Arkansas Blog

Winning the gun debate

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Noise and lobby intimidation help win political battles, the gun lobby demonstrates. It also might not hurt if the other side shuts up in the face of the gale.

Polls show: 79 percent of Americans favor a permitting process for gun sales; 90 percent favor background checks. There's little support for stricter gun regulation (though I'd like to see some polling on some specific questions such as semi-automatic handguns and extended magazines), but only 10 percent want them looser.

And yet, in Arkansas, all you hear is talk and legislation for still looser gun laws — open carry, for example. That probably correlates with declining support for handgun bans. (As a practical matter, I agree. This idea probably left the station with Wyatt Earp.) But catch this: the percentage of homes with guns is declining, not rising, despite all the pro-gun lobbying, rhetoric and punishment of any politician who doesn't vote down the line with the NRA. (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, despite being a gun owner and supporting concealed carry, earned a "D" grade from the NRA.)

All this comes from a lengthy political examination by Nate Silver. He points to the surrender of the Democratic Party on gun issues as one reason for a changing climate. It's good food for thought.

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