Where's the Debate Over Gun Control?

The campus shooting at Northern Illinois University may be old news by now, but forgive me for thinking it might have presented an opportunity at last night's debate for someone to ask Hillary or Obama about gun control. Can you remember the last time either candidate talked about it? The last time any Democratic presidential contender did? Thinking "Dems" and "guns" leaves me with images of John Kerry in a hunting outfit. Embarrassing.

Gun control used to be one of those bread and butter issues for Democrats, but recent years have seen the party's rapid evolution towards staunch protectors of the 2nd Amendement. When the Clinton-era assault weapons ban passed expired three years back, few in Congress leaped to renew it. The results have been deadly: As the Brady Campaign's Paul Helmke points out: "One thing the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shooters had in common was that they both used high capacity ammunition magazines that would have been prohibited under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004."

Of course, easing up on gun control has been critical to the Dems courting voters in Western and Southwestern swing states; the more Democratic candidates have traded gun bans for wishy-washy pro-regulation positions, the more the NRA has rewarded them, upping their political contributions to the Dems. ''Certainly, we support more Republicans than Democrats," a public affairs director told the Boston Globe in 2005, "but we've seen in the last few years an increasing number of Democrats actively seeking the NRA endorsement and actually winning it."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close