Is it possible for a politician to be too “pro gun”?

by David Safier

Maybe, just maybe, politicians will soon come to realize there are political dangers in supporting the NRA, not just in voting against the NRA position. Case in point: the plummeting poll numbers of Jeff Flake, who said he supported an increase in background checks, then voted no.

The backlash appears to be the harshest for Flake, whose standing in Arizona cratered following his “no” vote on background checks. With an approval rating of 32 percent, Flake is already among the least popular senators in the country, according to PPP. Fifty-one percent of Arizona voters said they disapprove of Flake, while a majority of 52 percent said that his opposition to the gun legislation makes them less likely to vote for him in the future.

Other politicians have experienced similar drops in their poll numbers since voting against background checks.

 [T]he once-popular Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R) numbers have taken a huge dip. . . . Her fellow Alaskan Sen. Mark Begich (D), who was one of four red state Democrats to vote against the background checks legislation, fared much the same. . . . Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), whose national profile rose last year after he emerged as a possible running mate to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, has seen an 18-point drop to his approval rating in the last six months, according to PPP.

This isn't conclusive evidence, but the long-standing common wisdom — that gun rights fanatics will hold a vote for greater regulation against you while voters on the other side aren't committed enough to make a vote on gun regulation a deciding factor — looks like it's less wise. Politicians are naturally skittish folks, and this kind of information could make them reconsider their votes.

The lesson for people who hope to lessen gun violence in the country is, keep up the pressure. March, gather, send letters, send emails, make phone calls, whatever it takes to let politicians know this movement isn't going away. The Brady Bill didn't pass the first time around either, so the recent vote against background checks is more of a temporary setback then a defeat.

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