On One Hand

June 26, 2008

Which is Scarier – Gays or Guns?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 2:39 pm
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Todays Supreme Court decision overturning a Washington D.C. handgun ban may cut in John McCain’s direction, taking off the table, at least for now, a goal of many on the left to ban handguns nationwide.

But in 2003, gay marriage cut in John Kerry’s direction, when the Supreme Judicial Court in his home state of Massachusetts demanded that gay marriage be legal for the first time in American history. And while John Kerry himself did not claim to support gay marriage, the electorate knew full well that Democrats are more favorable to the issue than Republicans. After John Kerry’s candidacy ended by a close loss in Ohio, a working-class state where a ballot initiative banning recognition of same-sex relationships passed by a landslide in the same vote, many murmured that the gay-marriage backlash is what tipped the entire election in the favor of George W. Bush. Ironically, a court ruling favoring liberals turned into a huge win for Republicans in an election.

Democratic candidates are recognized as having a tough time on “culture” issues like gun control. Rural Democrats like their guns, and a candidate’s position on gun control is often what paints him or her as an elitist urban “liberal” who those Democrats wouldn’t want to vote for. While most Americans nationwide do not own guns and support bans on concealed weapons in public, the ones most likely to switch sides over the issue seem to be this group of Democrats who cross over to vote Republican.

But this ruling helps take that issue off the table to gun-owning Democrats. Meanwhile, it frightens another segment of the elctorate that Barack Obama needs to win by large margins for a victory this fall – suburban women. These are the Independent voters who may have picked Hillary Clinton over John McCain, but still like McCain – and feel financially secure enough to resist Barack Obama’s positions on helping the working class.

Single women already favor Democrats by large margins, but married women with children, particularly those living in the suburbs, are swing voters who tend to favor Republicans on things like terrorism and crime. Married women also worry their kids in school, and strongly favor gun control. The composition of the Supreme Court suddenly becomes an important issue for them – the NRA has already announced it will launch challenges to gun bans in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, which will no doubt get into the news and be there until election time. They’ve even said they’ll look into challenging background check laws, which is something an overwhelming majority of Americans support. The composition of the Supreme Court will be important to them, which now has 7 members appointed by Republicans and 2 members appointed by Democrats, and upcoming retirements may tip that even farther. The decision may leave these women wondering what gun laws are going to be repealed next.

If these women end up voting on gun control, they’re going to vote for Barack Obama. They’re also going to vote for downticket Democrats who can fine-tune their gun control message to exactly the issues their voters are concerned about, or more delicately campaign to save current gun control laws without scaring pro-gun Democrats about the passage of new ones.

Current polls show Obama losing suburban women voters, but if he picks them up he’ll surge ahead in overall polls. Obama will have the coalition Bill Clinton (soccer moms and traditional Democrats) had and Ross Perot’s independent-thinking reformers (who like Obama’s change message) as well.

It begs the question; which is scarier, gays or guns? Gay marriage is an issue again since the state of California just legalized it, and New York and New Jersey may follow. If gay marriage can terrorize an electorate enough to surge George W. Bush into a second term, it may help John McCain as well. Democrats can hope that the repeal of gun control laws can surge Barack Obama – and local Democrats – into office instead.



  1. It begs the question; which is scarier, gays or guns?

    Gays WITH Guns!

    Comment by jdhenchman — June 26, 2008 @ 9:53 pm | Reply

  2. the question…

    I don’t think either…I take a gun with me ( a rifle ) when I go camping, but that hardly makes me a gun nut, because I believe in gun control. I don’t agree with the courts decision, but I don’t think screaming gun control is the answer either…then again the NRA is nasty bunch of zealots.

    Comment by bon_homme_dane — June 27, 2008 @ 5:22 am | Reply

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