Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The New Republic: Adam Winkler: Franklin Roosevelt: 'The Father Of Gun Control'

Source:The New Republic- President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat, New York) 1933-45.

"Just as many southern Democrats opposed gun control, many Republicans from the west and northeast supported it. In California, Republican Governor Ronald Reagan pushed lawmakers in his state to adopt new laws making it more difficult for radicals like the Black Panthers to walk around carrying guns openly.  “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons,” Reagan said at the time. Less vocal than Reagan was his fellow Californian Richard Nixon, who would be elected president later in 1968. “Guns are an abomination,” he told his speechwriter, William Safire.

Yet the NRA and gun owners were once again able to scale back the most ambitious proposals for gun control.  As finally enacted, the Gun Control Act of 1968 banned the possession of firearms by felons and drug users, prohibited the import of cheap handguns known as “Saturday Night Specials,” and required licensed gun dealers to report gun sales. National gun registration was dropped. A testament to the complex partisan lineup, every member of the mostly Democratic delegation from Texas voted against the law, except one. Republican congressman George H. W. Bush voted for the law, bemoaning that “much more” should be done.

Over the next twenty years, the country underwent a historic political realignment. Conservative southern Democrats switched to the Republican Party and liberal Republicans increasingly identified as Democrats. The partisan breakdown of support for gun control was also transformed.

Cognizant of the growing strength of the emerging gun lobby, Democrats, who had long called for stricter gun control in the party platform, softened the language in 1976 to acknowledge “the right of sportsmen to possess guns for purely hunting and target-shooting purposes.” This didn’t satisfy anyone, however, especially the many gun owners who believed guns were about personal protection in an era of rising crime and decaying cities. Gun enthusiasts knew that if the right to bear arms was simply about recreational activities, it might not last long. Ever since, the Democratic Party has fumbled around trying to find language that both calls for gun control and recognizes the Second Amendment.

The NRA, now committed to a more extreme view of the Second Amendment hostile to nearly any gun control, became a key partner in the New Right coalition that lifted Reagan to the presidency. Reagan, who understood the politics of gun control in this new environment better than anyone, gave up his support for gun laws. His turnaround was so complete that even after being shot in 1981 he refused to support new restrictions on guns.  Once freed from the constraints of office, he changed his tune once again, coming out in support of the Brady background check law that was named after his press secretary and enacted in 1993." 

What Adam Winkler seems to be implying here is that if you are front the South, you tend to be on the Right, regardless of which party you are affiliated with and if you are from the North, you tend to be on the Left, again regardless of which party you are with. 

I think it's more like if you are from a metropolitan area, whether from a major, if not big city, or you live in a major metro center, you are more likely to even be center-left, than center-right. And if you are from a rural community, north, south, east, west, or in the central, you are more likely to be center-right, than center-left. If you are highly educated, more likely to be center-left. And if you just have a high school diploma, more likely to be on the Right. If you have a couple years of college, more likely to be on the Right.  

My point is, depending on what polls you look at today, there's still roughly 3-5 or 2/3 of the Democratic Party that still supports the 2nd Amendment, but don't view it as absolute and would like more regulations to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally incompetent. 

The base of the Democratic Party is certainly not the rural South, or the rural Midwest, rural North, like upstate New York or Central Pennsylvania, or even the rural West Coast. The base of the Democratic Party is in the major cities and metro areas in the country, the suburbs It's not like the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly against the 2nd Amendment and wants to see it repealed.

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