From a Harper’s article written in the immediate aftermath of the Aurora shootings:
The harm we’ve done by messing with law-abiding Americans’ guns is significant. In 2010, I drove 11,000 miles around the United States talking to gun guys (for a book, to be published in the spring, that grew out of an article I wrote for this magazine), and I met many working guys, including plumbers, parks workers, nurses—natural Democrats in any other age—who wouldn’t listen to anything the Democratic party has to say because of its institutional hostility to guns. I’d argue that we’ve sacrificed generations of progress on health care, women’s and workers’ rights, and climate change by reflexively returning, at times like these, to an ill-informed call to ban firearms, and we haven’t gotten anything tangible in return. Aside from what it does to the progressive agenda, needlessly vilifying guns—and by extension, their owners—adds to the rancor that has us so politically frozen and culturally inflamed. Enough.
The Republican Party is doing its dead level best to destroy everything America stands for, and the Democrats— owned by corporations and the wealthy, sure, but still the only viable alternative to Republican totalitarianism— are actively driving away millions of voters who in any sane world would be the Democrats’ most solid base, over an illogical ideology that can be dismissed by the simple expedient of actually looking at gun crime statistics from the places in America that have the strictest gun control laws. When Washington, DC— where it was until recently just plain illegal to own guns at all— has rates of gun crime that make it look like Kabul, gun control laws are an objective failure by any measure, and chances are that guns themselves are probably not the root cause of the problem. All of the psychos and lunatics out there who are shooting at bystanders probably could have benefited from the kind of comprehensive affordable mental health care system we might have had by now if Democrats weren’t so busy alienating voters who would have supported it otherwise.
I can tell the Democrats how they could dominate Texas and “The South” and take control of the House for a generation, and I can do it in three words: Abandon Gun Control. There are millions of working poor people out there— literally millions— who hit that one issue and stop listening, and they are almost universally the exact kind of people who would benefit most from Democratic policies, and who are penalized the most by Republican policies. Baum is right; this one nonsensical, exploded ideology is actively hurting America.