Why Democrats Are Tame on Guns After Vegas

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House Democrats will gather on the Capitol steps Wednesday morning to honor victims of the Las Vegas shooting and criticize GOP inaction. They will be led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was nearly killed in a mass shooting in 2011, Politico reports. The last record-setting shooting spree on U.S. soil — at a nightclub in Orlando last year — prompted Democrats to occupy the House floor for a full day in protest of the GOP’s refusal to take up new gun control laws. This time, the minority party is using tamer tactics, tamping down talks of another sit-in and demanding that Republicans drop a gun silencer bill they’ve been pushing.

The difference in approach speaks to the tricky, shifting politics of guns for Democrats. It’s easy for them to lambaste Republicans for failing to take action after mass shootings. Elevating the issue heading into a midterm election next year — something Democrats have no plans to do — could repel the very voters they need to woo to regain control of Congress and make their vulnerable red-state Democrats prime for Republican attacks. There’s also a growing sense of futility in the debate. Gun control was a lost cause even under divided government, let alone when Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House. So Democrats are setting their sights lower.

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