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Horowitz: Parkland May Break Gun Legislation Stalemate

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

 

Rob Horowitz

While the political factors that have prevented any sensible gun safety legislation from advancing in Congress have not been erased, the senseless taking of 17 young lives in Parkland, Florida by a mentally disturbed former student firing a AR 15 rifle may be a tipping point. The rapid emergence of the survivors of this mass shooting as difficult to ignore spokespeople is providing compelling, sympathetic, telegenic and articulate voices that are breaking through and beginning to change the political calculations of key actors.  As David Hogg, one of the high school students that survived the killing, told CNN, “We are children. You guys are the adults. Work together, come over your politics, and get something done.”

One doesn’t need to look any further than President Trump who up until Parkland was in lock-step with the National Rifle Association (NRA).  He now is voicing support for expanded background checks, banning bump stocks that essentially turn rifles into machine guns, and raising the age by which one can buy a semi-automatic weapon to 21.  I am not asserting that Mr. Trump can be counted on to steadfastly maintain these positions, but the very fact that he felt the need to embrace some sensible gun control initiatives and to hold a televised conversation with Congressional leaders on the issue of school safety-- where he emphasized that he would stand up to the NRA --is a sign of shifting political winds.

Additionally, the increase in public support for common sense gun safety measures in the wake of Parkland as measured in opinion polls is much more pronounced than the movement after previous mass shootings. As reported by Politico, “Support for stricter gun laws has spiked in polls conducted after the fatal South Florida school shooting, hitting its highest level in at least a quarter-century.”  For example in a recent CNN poll, 70% of registered voters now say they back stricter gun laws, up from 52% who said they supported stricter gun laws soon after the Vegas mass shooting in Oct. 2017.

At the margins, new research by Rand Corporation will buttress the case for common-sense gun safety measures. As summarized by Vox, the extensive analysis“ suggests that restrictive laws seem to lead to fewer gun deaths, while the permissive laws seem to lead to more gun deaths.”

This new-found political energy for gun control measures is unlikely to result in sweeping national legislation.  The NRA remains formidable and Republicans, who are still by and large opposed to gun safety legislation, remain in control of the House and Senate. But the need to demonstrate some action does make possible the adoption of incremental universal background checks and the banning of bump stocks in the near future.  Raising the age limit for purchasing certain kinds of weapons still seems unlikely, but now there is at least an opening to advance that initiative.  Restoring the assault weapon is still highly unlikely to gain any traction—at least in the short-term.

More sweeping measures are likely to pass in politically receptive states—the many states where the NRA do not have as firm a grip as they do in our nation’s capital. Most promising is the prospect of the widespread adoption of so-called “Red Flag Laws” that would allow courts to temporarily take guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a threat to themselves of others.  Today, there are only 5 states that have adopted this measure.   In the wake of Parkland, however, many more states appear to be moving forward to put this common-sense protection in place.  These states include Rhode Island where Governor Raimondo recently issued an Executive Order on the topic and where legislation required to fully implement the practice is expected to pass the General Assembly.

Parkland survivor, Javier Lovera, tweeted, “We are too young to be losing friends like this.”  These teenage survivors and the “Never Again” movement they have unleashed are difficult for all, but the most hard-hearted or ideologically certain to ignore.  These few powerful youthful voices have awakened us in a way that the cold statistics of close to 40,000 gun deaths nationally each year never could. It is now up to we adults to rise to the moment.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor at University of Rhode Island.

 

Related Slideshow: GoLocal: Benchmark Poll, October 2017

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Sponsor: GoLocalProv

Sample: N=403

Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

Prev Next

Are you registered to vote at this address?

Yes: 100%

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When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

Unaffiliated: 49%

Democrat: 32%

Republican: 15%

Moderate: .4%

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Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

Definitely be voting: 78%

Probably be voting: 13%

50-50: 9%

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In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

Right track: 39%

Wrong track: 45%

Mixed: 10%

Don't know/Refused: .6%

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What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

Jobs and economy:  21%

Education: 12%

Taxes: 12%

Roads: 12%

State budget: 9%

Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

Healthcare: 3%

Governor: 3%

Homelessness: 2%

Immigration: 2%

Other: 7%

Don’t know: .9%

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Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 35%

Changed for the worse: 16%

Not changed at all: 43%

Don't know/Refused: 5%

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Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

Changed for the better: 26%

Changed for the worse: 19%

Not changed at all: 54%

Don't know/Refused: 1%

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Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

Net: Approve: 28%

Definitely approve: 15%

Probably approve: 14%

Net: Reject: 67%

Probably reject: 19%

Definitely reject: 48%

Don't know: 4%

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Could you please tell me your age?

18-24: 7%

25-34: 15%

35-44: 15%

45-54: 20%

55-64: 17%

65+: 25%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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What was the last grade you completed in school?

0-11: 2%

High school grad: 16%

Technical/Vocational school: 1%

Some college: 23%

College grad: 34%

Graduate degree: 24%

Don't know/refused: 1%

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The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

$50,000 or less: 27%

More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

$150,000 or more: 13%

Don't know/refused: 17%

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What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

American/None: 21%

English: 13%

Italian: 13%

Irish: 12%

Black or African American: 6%

Latino/Hispanic: 6%

French: 6%

Portuguese: 3%

Jewish: 3%

German: 1%

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Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?


Excellent: 13%
Good: 12%
Fair: 14%
Poor: 57%
Never heard of:  0%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 22%
Good: 29%
Fair: 23%
Poor: 15%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 6%

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Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

Excellent: 17%
Good: 22%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 28%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate: 7%

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Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 9%
Good: 29%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 27%
Never heard of: 6%
Cannot rate:  8%

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Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

Excellent: 7%
Good: 30%
Fair: 20%
Poor: 18%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 11%

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Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

Excellent: 6%
Good: 28%
Fair: 30%
Poor: 31%
Never heard of: 1%
Cannot rate: 3%

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Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 16%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 8%
Never heard of: 26%
Cannot rate: 25%

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Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?


Excellent: 3%
Good: 20%
Fair: 28%
Poor: 17%
Never heard of: 13%
Cannot rate: 19%

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Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 18%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 13%
Never heard of: 21%
Cannot rate: 21%

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Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

Excellent: 5%
Good: 21%
Fair: 21%
Poor: 10%
Never heard of: 20%
Cannot rate: 23%

Prev Next

Would you say that Jorge Elorza has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Mayor of Providence?

Excellent: 4%
Good: 24%
Fair: 24%
Poor: 22%
Never heard of: 9%
Cannot rate: 15%

 
 

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