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The gun safety fight is coming

Bring it on.

As the coronavirus outbreak ravages fundraising efforts by political campaigns across Texas, the political affiliate of one of the country’s oldest gun violence prevention groups is bringing reinforcements to the state, where it sees Democrats’ efforts to flip the state houses as among the most important races in the nation.

BradyPAC is the latest gun safety group to turn its attention to Texas, planning to spend more than half a million on elections in the state — more than it’s spending anywhere in the nation by far — as it remains the top target in 2020 for groups pushing for new gun laws.

“If you can get Texas passing strong gun laws, I think that sends a really strong message to the rest of the country,” said Brian Lemek, executive director of the political action committee affiliated with Brady, a nonprofit formed in 1974 that advocates for assault weapons bans, red flag laws and stricter gun storage requirements, among other things.

Texas gun rights groups are also stepping up fundraising, warning supporters that they need to help defend 20 seats in the Texas House this fall.

BradyPAC’s spending plans — the full extent of which were shared exclusively with the Houston Chronicle — come as other activists, including the Everytown for Gun Safety group backed by former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, have said they plan to spend millions in Texas on an “unprecedented financial and grassroots effort” to flip the Texas House, defend vulnerable freshmen Democrats in Congress and help Democrats take congressional seats in the suburbs.

I read this story and it reminded me that I had drafted a post about Everytown making the same pledge to pour a bunch of money into Texas with an eye towards helping Dems take over the Lege. That was from before the coronavirus madness, so about five hundred years ago in quarantine time. To save myself a bit of typing, here’s what I had written then, which works as well for this story now, plus the extra vigorish of the knowing that our current leadership thinks gun stores are “essential businesses”. Read on for that earlier post.

Good.

Texas is a top target for gun safety groups that helped flip Virginia’s state House blue last year — and they’re planning to go big here, with one group announcing Wednesday it will spend three times what it spent in Virginia — at least $8 million — supporting candidates and buying ads.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a Michael Bloomberg-backed group that pushes for expanded background checks, red flag laws and other measures, is plotting what its political director calls an “unprecedented financial and grassroots effort” to flip the Texas House, defend vulnerable freshmen Democrats in Congress and help Democrats take congressional seats in the suburbs. A memo detailing the plan, the group’s biggest state investment to date, was shared exclusively with Hearst Newspapers.

“We believe that Texas, as it becomes younger and increasingly diverse, can be the next emerging battleground state with gun safety as the tipping point,” Chris Carr, the group’s political director wrote in the memo. “We believe there are opportunities to elect gun sense candidates up and down the ballot, from the statehouse to the U.S. Congress — and potentially even statewide.”

It’s part of a broader national strategy by the group that includes spending at least $60 million, twice what it spent during the 2018 elections.

“Texas is definitely the big target,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group of activists affiliated with Everytown. The group has 400,000 volunteers on the ground in Texas already, Watts said.

[…]

Everytown is also planning to go on the offensive against Republican U.S. Reps. Dan Crenshaw, Michael McCaul, Chip Roy and John Carter, and it’s planning to spend big in districts left open by retiring Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Will Hurd.

But the state House — where Democrats need to flip nine more seats to gain control — is the biggest goal, as it was in Virginia, and most of the group’s targets are in the Houston and Dallas suburbs.

As the story notes, expanding background checks for gun sales polls well in Texas, which is something that Everytown and Moms Demand will surely hammer on. I believe the poll numbers, but it’s not clear to me how much difference it makes. Will Republicans who say they support background checks vote for a Democrat who support them over a Republican who doesn’t? Color me skeptical. I believe this issue can gin up turnout, but I believe that will work both ways, at least to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to have all this happening, I’m just managing my expectations. I’ll be happy to be pleasantly surprised.

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10 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I don’t see that the anti-gun position is any stronger in Texas, or anywhere else, for that matter in the wake of the Wuhan virus. Once governments at various levels started shutting down businesses, putting people out of work, harassing travelers, and in some areas, enacting curfews, what happened? Gun and ammo sales went (pun intended) ballistic.

    People are legitimately fearful of a breakdown in social order, especially when some jurisdictions are trying to put prisoners back on the streets, too. Most of those panic buyers are new to gun ownership. In other words, they are folks who never cared in the past about exercising their right to own a gun, but now, as the saying goes, “shit just got real,” and they are scared.

    People in gun unfriendly states are finding out just how difficult it is to get a gun when they feel the most need to buy one. They’re finding out just how all those laws they cheerfully supported now affect THEM in their time of need.

    Oh, you need a gun? Where’s your FOID? Don’t have one? OK, you can apply for one, but no one is even working to process the application, so good luck at the zombie hordes break down your door.

    Anecdotally, the range I patronize infrequently has been absolutely overrun with people new to guns…..in other words, people who probably aren’t conservative right wingers. Those folks are most probably the swing voters you’ll need, and the appetite for gun control in the Wu flu era doesn’t seem there to me.

    Personally, I hope Dem. candidates highlight their anti gun policies and Anytown/Brady ties, because I don’t see that playing well in Texas, especially now. My advice for Texas Dem candidates is, don’t bring up guns, and hope the (R) opponent doesn’t force them to be clear on their position.

    Do we not remember Beto’s spectacular crash and burn?

  2. brad says:

    Bill,

    It isn’t “anti-gun”, it is gun safety. Get it straight.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Brad,

    Even if that was true, which it isn’t, panicked, scared people aren’t going to make that distinction, which is where we are now.

    Look at this from a different perspective. Abbott and Co. aren’t anti-abortion, they just want abortion safety via common sense abortion laws, like making expectant mothers view sonograms and listen to heartbeats. Requiring abortionists to have hospital privileges and requiring that abortion clinics meet hospital standards are also promoting abortion safety. Waiting periods, too.

    It’s very clear to you (and me, too) that those laws are all bullshit designed to harass women and inhibit them from getting abortions, but its couched in the language of safety. It’s the exact same thing with the anti-gun folks. We all know what it is, and the Beto example stands. Anytown and Brady aren’t Ralph Nader type safety advocates, they are explicitly anti-gun. They say so right up front.

    You think people who are out there panic buying guns for the first time, especially those that try and fail because of draconian state laws, are going to be receptive to “gun safety” rhetoric? They’re scared.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Edit:

    The friendly folks at my local gun range told me something else….you know what these noobie gun buyers are actually buying? Handguns. Handguns with “high capacity” magazines, magazines that hold at least 15 rounds.

    Hmm. Gun safety advocates sure push hard for banning of those ‘high capacity’ magazines. They’re pushing to outlaw the exact stuff these new buyers are asking for.

  5. brad says:

    Bill,

    Actually it is about gun safety.

    Did your “friendly folks” at the local gun range ask the political affiliations of and the ‘high magazine’ positions of these new gun buyers? Did the ‘noobies’ have their official “Gun Safety Advocates” name tags on their shirt at the range?

    Yep, didn’t think so.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    @ Brad:

    Fair enough. We don’t know the political affiliations or leanings of the plethora of new gun buyers in Texas or the US generally, only that there are a bunch of people buying guns who previously did not buy guns.

    I think we can reasonably infer, however, that a bunch of people buying handguns with 15+round magazines, aren’t going to support the banning and criminalization of guns they just bought, which is a basic tenant of ‘gun safety’ advocates like Anytown, Brady (AKA Handgun Control, Inc.), etc.

  7. C.L. says:

    I haven’t seen a marauding horde lamenting the breakdown of civilization or overall social order, armed with 15 round handguns in at least a month. Odd.

  8. Manny says:

    All I have to add is that there sure are a lot of scary cats out there, they jump when they see their shadows and a gun makes them think that their manhood has gotten bigger.

    Probably the same people that already own guns, they buy more guns so that they can feel more secure.

    By the way Bill one source does not make it a fact, it could be but that is not the way the world works.

    One more thing Bill, since you always claim that it is fake media, why is the media not fake this time?

  9. Bill Daniels says:

    Ah, Manny,

    Meet the newest lying, Trump flunky folks to endorse the Trump pill as the PRIMARY treatment for the Wuhan virus: Yale Medical College.

    https://covid.yale.edu/clinical/protocol/COVID-19%20TREATMENT%20ADULT%20Algorithm%204.3.20_381497_47435_v3.pdf

    Tell us how Trump got to Yale and forced them to lie about HCQ.

    As to the topic at hand, I’ll agree that we don’t know, other than anecdotally, via media stories, that the massive increase in gun sales is to people who didn’t already own a gun, and I do agree that the MSM is not necessarily trustworthy. Valid points, Manny.

  10. Manny says:

    Bill all they are doing is experimenting, notice the large disclaimers at the very beginning?

    If it works fine, but just more hoaxes from the right wing crazies, to get people beliving in magic.