Could Gun Violence Become A Deciding Factor In 2020 Senate Races?
In the wake of another mass shooting — indeed, just the second such incident occurring within the state of Texas within the past 30 days — Democratic lawmakers in Congress are calling for stricter gun laws to be passed by the Republican-led Senate.
The issue, which has widespread support from Americans overall, could become an important one for the 2020 elections, not just in the presidential race, but also for control of the Senate (and Congress overall).
According to analysis from NBC News, at least three Senate seats in the states of Arizona, Maine, and Colorado are considered “vulnerable” for Democrats to have a good chance of winning away from Republicans. Another five seats — in North Carolina, Iowa, Texas, and two in Georgia — are in traditionally “safe” states for Republicans, but are trending dangerously close to being up for grabs as well.
Republicans presently control the Senate with a 53-seat majority. Democrats gaining a net of four seats in the 2020 elections would mean they’d take control of that chamber of Congress. If they also retain the House, they’d control the legislative branch completely.
The issue of gun laws likely weighs heavily on the minds of voters within those vulnerable states, especially in Texas, which has seen two mass shootings in the past month — one in El Paso, where 22 individuals were killed, and another in Odessa this past weekend, where seven were killed. Dozens more were injured between both events by assailants wielding assault weapons.
Democrats have long-made the issue of tighter gun laws one of their top priorities. This past week, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring a vote on a bill passed by the House that would require a background check on every gun purchase, CNN reported.
Julián Castro: "The biggest lies that the president has told include that he would do something about universal background checks. He's said that twice, after Parkland and then after El Paso and Dayton. And he's gone back on his word." https://t.co/UyXDTsIhlF
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 1, 2019
“Every day, the epidemic of gun violence inflicts a devastating toll in communities in every corner of our country, forcing far too many to endure heartbreak and tragedy,” Pelosi said. “The Republican Senate must end its obstruction and finally pass the commonsense, bipartisan, House-passed gun violence prevention legislation that the country is demanding.”
Polling on the issue demonstrates Americans want the proposals passed, as Pelosi has implied. Ninety percent of Americans, for instance, want to see background checks expanded, according to a recent Fox News poll, while 67 percent want to see a ban on assault weapons. Even conservative voters want something passed, with 89 percent of Republican-leaning voters saying they, too, want stronger background checks put in place.
The issue of gun laws could be a hindrance to Republicans, especially if the issue is tied to the presidential. Only 15 percent of Americans think that President Donald Trump has made the country “safer” when it comes to the threat of mass shootings, while 46 percent believe we are “less safe” since he’s taken office.
If GOP lawmakers back Trump up in the election, particularly on the issue of gun legislation, it could feasibly be a liability for their own election chances.