- Ethics and lobbying reform for politicians
- Healthcare reform
- Bush’s blatant disregard for science and the environment
- The reduction of so many civil liberties during the last 12, and more specifically the last 6 years: Things like the PATRIOT act, warrantless spying, and reduction of Habeas Corpus rights.
Most Democrats running for office realized this, and left "the gun issue" out of their rhetoric and platforms. Polls have shown that Democrats own guns at rates ranging from 31% to 41%. That's a high number, and is one of the reasons that guns are an easy swing issue for Republicans to “wedge” on. Beyond that, that the numbers don't tell the whole story. Guns are a swing issue in swing states, and swing states are where the Democratic Party made important gains in November '06. States like Oregon, Indiana, Montana, and West Virginia are all part of the new Democratic mandate, and are all states that can swing on this issue.
If Democrats go after the guns, an issue that is currently a non-issue becomes a swing issue. A lot of pro-gun Democrats, Independents, and Republicans believe that gun ownership IS a Constitutional right. These voters have a deep sense of history, often unique in its American perspective, that gun ownership is a right, a responsibility, or even a duty. They are tired of having to justify what they see as a right. When you say, "I don't like the Republican administration's awful handling of the Iraq war" you rarely feel the need to then defend the very ability to say such a thing, because it is assumed: It's a right well written into the first amendment.
Gun owners are constantly under attack for exercising their (and your) rights. They look back to English common-law, the Constitutional Conventions, and note that the right to bear arms is an important part of our history and democracy, as well as a check against tyranny. They are pointing to Constitutional Framers such as Theodore Sedgwick, Noah Webster, George Mason, James Monroe, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams, and others. Other people do the same as they refer to other rights enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Please note, I am not attempting to debate history, Constitutional law, or whether the Second Amendment is an individual right. I’m trying to present how a large block of voters views the issue. These very voters helped change our political maps from Red to Blue.
Given these strong beliefs, attempts at further gun control will mitigate the value of the Democratic mandate. If Democrats force gun control, many centrist democrats, independents, and left-leaning Republicans will become one-issue voters. Iraq, healthcare, ethics and others become secondary. These swing voters believe that there is nothing more important than the Bill of Rights, and even that the Second Amendment protects the other nine. Whether right or not, these voters swing elections.
So, now that congress is done with its “100 hour” legislative agenda, don't lose sight of where this country should go. Don't lose a sense of direction over guns, when there is so much to be done elsewhere. Gun control has largely proved ineffective in a number of ways, starting with reducing crime. Nor should Democrats lose their legislative control by forcing voters to become one-issue voters (which I generally abhor). As we’ve seen over the last six years of George Bush, without at least a balanced government, everyone loses civil rights.
I've included a light vote from Jyte.com here, just to see where some readers might land on this one. Vote for/against it and let's where it goes.