Could Dems Win West By Spurning Gun Control?


An unofficial New Mexico legislature alliance known as the Bull Moosers opposes gun control. For nearly a decade, one of its members pushed for a concealed-carry law in the state, allowing residents to apply for permits to carry hidden guns. This year, says The Nation magazine, with support from Democratic Governor–and talked-about 2008 presidential candidate–Bill Richardson, the law finally passed. It was in some ways symbolic; only about 2,500 concealed-carry permits have been issued. Still, says one Bull Mooser: “There are many, many of my constituents who vote that issue by itself. I know people who are registered Democrats who vote Republican because they don’t think there’s any consistency on guns. At a national level they simply won’t vote for a Democratic candidate.”

It is rural New Mexicans–Bull Moose by temperament, reared on stories of homesteading and gun-toting self-reliance, and living in areas scores of miles from the nearest law-enforcement officers–whom the Democrats have to woo to win back the state in national elections. One such Democratic voter says that until the Democrats stop advocating national gun-control legislation, he will neither vote for national Democratic candidates nor give any money to the national party. “On health issues and economic issues and 75 percent of the issues, I would agree with the Democratic philosophy,” he says. If Democrats would “wise up and focus on issues of importance rather than stupid gun-control issues, would find they weren’t disenfranchising all the sportsmen and people like myself.”

No less a figure than Governor Richardson agrees. He says that “The West is becoming more fertile Democratic territory. It’s important for Democrats on the East Coast not to make the gun issue a litmus test.”


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