The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today informs us that Republican Rep. Tom Cotton and some of the shrillest members of the gun lobby think they have a winner in the 2014 challenge of U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor in the fact that he voted NINE YEARS AGO in favor of an assault weapon ban. Though not lately.
This they equate with a desire by Pryor to take your guns away. Pryor naturally has already trotted out his hunting and gun-loving bona fides.
I hope this fixation on an aged gun vote is the wishful thinking of those so deep in an echo chamber of like-minded ideologues that they don't hear the more moderate broader world outside. But perhaps not.
Polling Report, which rounds up major polling on a variety of subjects, shows that a solid majority in the U.S. — in poll after poll — favors more sensible gun regulation, including limits on military-style weapons.
Is Arkansas an outlier? Arkansas-specific polling over the years doesn't suggest it is, but you'll never convince the gun nuts otherwise. Or Pryor, for that matter. He went wobbly on the last major gun vote despite polling that showed a huge majority of Arkansans in favor of extending background check requirements to gun show sales.
One other thing about numbers: The Democrat-Gazette article began:
In a state where 257,000 people have a hunting license and more than 153,500 have a concealed weapons permit, gun activists said gun control and the right to bear arms will be at the forefront of the upcoming U.S. Senate race.
In a state where about 2.2 million people are 18 and older, that means 2 million DON"T have a hunting license and 2.1 million DON'T have a concealed carry permit. It's worth noting, too, that the number with a hunting license has been declining for years. There's no doubt the fervor among the gun fetishists and fervor is useful in politics. But fervor is not always decisive.