At the past three Democratic conventions, only one presidential nominee mentioned the scourge of gun violence. Eight years ago in Denver, Barack Obama devoted a single sentence to the subject in his 5,000-word acceptance speech. This year’s convention is shaping up very differently, the Washington Post reports. Shooting survivors, mothers of shooting victims and gun-safety activists took turns at center stage in this week’s Democratic National Convention. The duo atop the party’s ticket — Hillary Clinton and Sen. Timothy Kaine (D-Va.) — have put the fight for tougher gun laws at the heart of their campaign.
By spotlighting gun control during their party’s biggest showcase, Democrats are marking a significant evolution in presidential politics. For the past two decades, Democrats have been timid and even paralyzed when it comes to guns, afraid of agitating the powerful gun lobby and alienating owners of firearms. One horrific mass shooting after another, coupled with the spate of police shootings, have presented what Democrats see as a political opening to appeal to suburban women in particular with calls for stricter gun regulations. “We’ve crossed a watershed moment,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.), who has been a vocal gun-control advocate since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 that killed 26 young children and educators in his home state. The Democrats’ push on gun issues has prompted a fierce rebuttal from the National Rifle Association, which has endorsed Republican nominee Donald Trump and has begun a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign against Clinton. “The NRA has a higher favorability rating than Hillary Clinton, and voters do not trust Hillary Clinton to tell the truth on any issue, including her support of extreme gun-control measures,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. “We look forward to exposing Hillary Clinton’s lies about her support of extreme gun control.”