NRA endorsement could trigger backlash for Southern California Republicans

NRA protest

Candidates who regularly vote with the NRA, such as Reps. Steve Knight, Dana Rohrabacher, and Mimi Walters, could face a backlash from the 70 percent of voters who support stricter gun laws.

Southern California Republicans brag about their endorsements from the NRA, but staunch opposition to reasonable gun control measures could spell trouble in November.

Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) are already in tough re-election battles, and a nationwide movement for stronger gun laws is just more evidence they are on the wrong side of public opinion.

According to a new CNN poll, 70 percent of American favor stronger gun laws. In fact, CNN notes, “Strong support outpaces strong opposition by a nearly four-to-one margin, a massive increase,” over previous polls.

Surburban Republicans who are maniacally loyal to the NRA, such as Knight, Rohrabacher, and Walters, present some of the best pick-up opportunities for Democrats, argues Ronald Brownstein in the Atlantic.

[T]here’s a majority of voters for gun control in many of the suburban districts where Trump’s white-collar woes are already threatening Republicans. ABC/Washington Post and Quinnipiac University national polls released Tuesday found that about three-fifths of college-educated white men and two-thirds (or more) of college-educated white women support a ban on assault weapons—the Parkland student movement’s principal policy demand after the shooting.

Brownstein notes Knight, Rohrabacher, and Walters are among the surburban Republicans who have “bent compliantly” to vote “in lockstep with the NRA.” He brings up two examples from 2017 where these three lawmakers sided with the NRA to weaken gun laws and even make it easier for people with a severe mental illness to acquire guns.

After 17 people were killed in Parkland, Florida, Rohrabacher released a statement on Facebook saying, “In the aftermath of such carnage as this, we always hear calls for the confiscation of firearms from honest people. That is totally counterproductive.”

While virtually no one is calling for confiscating all the guns, Rohrabacher is ignoring a majority of gun-owning households who support stricter gun control measures (57 percent). Additionally, almost 3 in 5 Americans support banning “the manufacture, sale and possession of rifles capable of semi-automatic fire, such as the AR-15, the same style as was used in both the Parkland and Las Vegas shootings,” according to the same CNN poll.

Republicans like Rohrabacher, Knight, and Walters are eager to offer “thoughts and prayers” after every mass shooting, but steadfastly refuse to take action to bring about change. Each seems to value their NRA endorsement over taking reasonable steps to at least try to prevent casualties from military-grade weapons. Each has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign cash from the gun lobby, and each has sought to earn their “A” rating from the NRA.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who left Congress after being shot at a campaign rally, recently described politicians like Rohrabacher, Knight, and Walters this way: “They look at the most benign and practical solutions offered by moderates from each party, and then they look over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby and choose to do nothing.”

Voters will have a chance to decide whether or not doing nothing is acceptable when they go to the polls in November.