Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman, and Daniel Lippman at Politico:
MANY REPUBLICANS FEEL LIKE THEY GO HOME to their safely red district and interact with constituents who are gun-toting NRA members -- many of whom show up to barbecues, fundraisers and political events carrying a weapon. Multiple Republicans told us they have held events at high-end shooting ranges. Gabe Debenedetti: “AR-15 auction removed from McMorris Rodgers fundraiser” http://politi.co/2GwJiSp
FORGET THE MONEY that the NRA gives -- it’s relatively inconsequential compared to other industries, and it’s a lazy explanation for the position that many Republicans hold. But many GOP voters exist in a media environment where they read the NRA’s magazines, pay attention to their scorecards come election time and wonder if the long arm of the U.S. government will come get their guns.
MOST REPUBLICANS exist in a climate in which their only political fear is a primary challenger on the right. To these Republicans, national polls mean squat. Getting on the “wrong side” of the gun issue would be going soft on guns -- that’s the way to lose a primary election. Few of these Republicans believe they’ll lose an election by not supporting stringent gun regulations.
CONSIDER THIS: In the House -- the more conservative of the two bodies -- 36 lawmakers sit in seats that elect Republicans by an average of 20 points or more. If you start looking wobbly there on any core issue -- which lawmakers say is immigration, abortion and gun rights -- you could be looking for a new job.
THEN THERE’S THEIR ARGUMENT that new gun laws wouldn’t do much. Ban assault weapons? Well there are plenty on the streets now. And if you ban assault weapons and someone shoots up a school with a pistol, then what’s next? Will the government move to make pistols illegal. How about tightening background checks? Many Republicans will tell you the laws in place now aren’t being enforced as they should be. Why add new regulations?
THERE IS A CLEAR SPLIT AMONG TOP REPUBLICANS WE TALK TO.Many believe this shooting is a tipping point. Others say, “eh.” Remember, Republicans didn’t do anything after one of their own — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — was shot. And in 2011, they did nothing when Gabby Giffords -- then a member of the House -- was shot in the head meeting constituents outside a supermarket.