Red state Democrats who voted for the failed Senate gun control bill in April 2013 have been scrambling lately to focus their campaigns on anything but guns and gun control. With November closing in, they’ve even asked Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly to stay out of their states to avoid a shift in focus to guns or gun control.
But the reality is that Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) all voted for the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill in 2013–a bill that would have ended the private gun sales which free people have enjoyed in this country for nearly 220 years. It would have implemented an expansion of background checks from retail sales to private and forced every would-be gun owner to pass the same background checks Elliot Rodger (Santa Barbara), Ivan Lopez (Ft. Hood 2014), Karl Halverson Pierson (Arapahoe High School), Aaron Alexis (DC Navy Yard), James Holmes (Aurora theater), and Nidal Hasan (Ft. Hood 2009) passed, to name a few.
When Hagan voted for gun control, those around her said that doing so would bolster her chances of re-election in 2014. But by the end of last year, she was already losing ground because of the vote. It is, therefore, not surprising that she doesn’t want a photo-op with Giffords and Kelly right now.
And Senator Udall certainly doesn’t want gun control to become the topic of conversation in his state of Colorado, where successful recall elections cost two pro-gun control state senators their jobs and forced a third to resign.
The situation is so politically perilous for red state Democrats that even senators who didn’t vote for Manchin-Toomey are staying as far away from Giffords and Kelly as possible.
As early as July of last year, as The Washington Post reported, Giffords and Kelly traveled to Alaska to talk to Senator Mark Begich (D-AL) about supporting gun control–only to find he was on vacation in an area too remote for phone service.
So Kelly spent time with Begich’s brother, Tom Begich, who made it clear he “did not officially work for his brother or represent his views.” He also suggested that Giffords and Kelly should not ask his opinion on background checks.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.