Two Pennsylvania families profiled by the Baltimore Sun represent two ideologically opposed corners of the state and are typical of the two Americas going to the polls this November and possibly dividing the vote as precisely in half as they did four years ago. Among the many predictors is one’s attitude toward guns. Faced with the reality that nearly 50 percent of voting households have guns in the home, Democrats have shifted their fight from more aggressive goals to incremental safety measures that even many gun enthusiasts support. While Al Gore pressed for federal licensing of gun owners four years ago, John Kerry has shot pheasant on the campaign trail to promote his credentials as a hunter and gun owner, and trumpeted his support for Second Amendment rights.
In this political climate, the 10-year-old federal ban on assault weapons, although favored by a majority of gun owners and law enforcement organizations, was allowed to expire last month. Kerry rarely spoke in favor of the ban until it was about to lapse. Of the pro- and antigun families interviewed by the Sun, one belongs to Gun Owners of America, the other the American Civil Liberties Union. The mother in the “gun” household prefers Fox News, the gun-opponent household favors National Public Radio.