January 11, 2013

One thing you’ll be seeing more of as the gun debate unfolds: Republican lawmakers being pressed to say whether they support specific individual gun law reforms that have broad support, such as improved background checks on gun buyers and bans on high capacity magazines.

Along these lines, this is interesting: GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia — who has an “A” rating from the NRA — has now signaled that he very well may support both of those provisions. The Marietta Daily Journal has this account of a town hall meeting Gingrey held yesterday:

Gingrey said he was open to considering certain gun control measures in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre.

“There are some problems, and maybe these huge magazines even for someone who says, ‘look, I just use an AR-15 for target practice,’ but do you really need to be standing there shooting at a silhouette a shot a second or even quicker with that kind of weapon? For what purpose?” Gingrey asked. “I would be willing to listen to the possibility of the capacity of a magazine.”

Gingrey … said he is also open to revisions of the so-called gun show loophole.

“What it is basically, if you go to a gun show and there’s somebody out there in the parking lot, and they’re getting out of their car, and they’ve got an A-15 on their shoulder or …. John Q. Public wants to sell a handgun or whatever, then there’s no background check,” Gingrey said. “You know, you’re buying a used weapon from somebody and then basically no background check.”

Keep in mind that these measures have very broad public support, including among Republicans. A recent CNN poll found that 97 percent of Republicans support background checks on all gun buyers, and 61 percent of Republicans support a ban on high capacity magazines.

Quotes like these from Gingrey point towards the possibility that the White House and Democrats may opt to push individual proposals separately, rather than solely as part of some big package. The individual provisions have widespread support, and pushing one massive package makes it easier for the “gun rights” brigade to characterize the proposals as a massive Big Government power grab. We’ve seen this dynamic before during the Obama years; the individual provisions within Obamacare were all quite popular, but the overall law itself was relentlessly tarred as a massive Big Government overreach.

The idea here would be to challenge Republicans to oppose popular measures such as beefing up background checks to prevent criminals or the mentally ill from buying guns or banning high capacity magazines, which even Gingrey above says are not necessary for target shooting with semi-automatic weapons. One option might be to push the whole package and then also push individual provisions, as the White House did with the American Jobs Act.

Relatedly, there is going to be a lot of stuff like this unfolding in your states and districts when lawmakers begin debating these measures in earnest with their constituents — and when the NRA seriously cranks up constitutent pressure on Members. So tell me what you’re seeing out there.

 

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.