Gun Support Declines Among Businesses, Democratic Candidates

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High Schoolers at Alderdice High School in Pittsburgh, PA.protest school shootings. Photo by Mark Dixon via Flickr

After the Parkland, Fl. massacre galvanized gun politics in the U.S., gun support has been on a steady decline.

A striking number of Democratic candidates in midterm elections, from congressional contests in the Rocky Mountains to governor’s races in the Deep South, are disparaging the National Rifle Association, a group with deep pockets, a loyal membership and a record of Election Day score-settling, the New York Times reports. 

Those Democrats, and a few Republicans, believe that after Parkland, many voters have been turned off by the NRA’s hard line, its belligerence and its demands for lock-step loyalty from elected officials. 

John Heenan, a Democrat running for Montana’s sole seat in the House of Representatives, said that, “all Montanans, especially gun owners, just want people who are going to be responsive to them and bring common sense to the table.”

Democrats say they feel emboldened by the groundswell of outrage over gun violence after the Feb. 14 attack in Florida, which left 17 people dead.

They are encouraged by polls showing that measures like universal background checks and age restrictions for gun buyers are widely popular. 

Meanwhile, a report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General showed record-keeping deficiencies, storage shortcomings and just plain sloppiness with guns at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

The Inspector General’s office determined that the ATF, responsible for tracking stolen weapons, had “26 instances of lost, stolen, or missing firearms” between fiscal 2014 and 2017.

That is not much, compared with the organization’s more than 35,500 firearms, stun guns and silencers, but it is disturbing, because one of the stolen guns was later used in a crime. 

“Our findings are particularly concerning,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said last week, “because prior audits identified similar issues and recommended corrective action.”

ATF firearms have vanished under embarrassing circumstances.

The report said that ten firearms, including one rifle, were stolen from government vehicles in separate incidents. The agents received four- or five-day suspensions.

Amid declining political support for guns, businesses have started to withdraw their affiliations with gun-related corporations as well.

Bank of America will stop lending to business clients that manufacture military-style weapons for civilian use, becoming the latest U.S. financial institution to break ties with gunmakers following the mass shooting in Parkland, FL. 

“We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings,” Anne Finucane, vice chairman of the Charlotte, N.C.-based banking giant, said during a Bloomberg TV interview on Tuesday.

Amalgamated Bank announced similar restrictions last week, saying it would not invest any of its own assets “in companies that manufacture or distribute firearms, weaponry or ammunition.” The bank also said it would work with industry peers to seek “responsible practices” from gun manufacturers and distributors.

This summary was prepared by Megan Hadley, a TCR staff reporter.

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