After horrific shootings in El Paso and Dayton shocked the nation and magnified the tragic reality that the gun violence crisis has left virtually every American community feeling less safe, a number of GOP stalwarts issued a warning.
In OpEds and interviews, longtime party figures cautioned that the Republican Party could no longer escape with only paying lip service to preventing gun violence. If the old playbook of doing nothing about shootings even as more than 100 die every day doesn’t change, said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor and oil and gas executive who supports Trump, the Republican party faces extinction in the suburbs.
“Republicans are headed for extinction in the suburbs if they don’t distance themselves from the NRA. The GOP needs to put forth solutions to help eradicate the gun violence epidemic.”
This desire to embrace gun safety policies marks a significant shift for Republican activists. While many Republican politicians—including President Trump—continue to parrot NRA talking points about mental illness and video games, other conservatives are scrambling to get on board with the change that the majority of Americans want to see happen.
Here’s a breakdown of high-profile Republicans calling for gun safety reform:
- Speaking to Bloomberg News, Republican donor Dan Eberhart said: “the GOP needs to make several moves such as universal background checks, eliminating loopholes and banning military-style assault weapons to neutralize the issue. Otherwise, Republicans will lose suburban voters just like they did in the midterms on health care.”
- George Conway, conservative lawyer and husband to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, called for the passage of universal background checks in an op-ed for the Washington Post.
- John Fredericks, Chairman of Trump’s 2016 Virginia campaign, said the following on his radio program: “Right now, Republicans in Virginia are at the alter of the [Virginia Citizens Defense League] and the NRA…but here’s my message to Republicans: ‘If you don’t do something here, you’re going to get annihilated in the suburbs in 2019.’”
- Former Republican congressman from Florida Steve Jolly said on MSNBC: “Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing, ever. If this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating Republicans. Beat ’em. Beat every single one of ’em.”
- In an NPR piece, Ohio Republican state senator Peggy Lehner, whose district borders Dayton, called for bipartisan action on gun control in her state. “I’m personally embarrassed that it has been up to the Democrats alone to be calling for some of these very commonsense, simple solutions that don’t do anything to violate anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” Lehner said. “We’re all in this together, and it’s time that we started looking for solutions together.”
- Former Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo worried about the importance of the issue among younger voters: “Every time the country experiences a tragedy of this nature the Republican brand takes a hit,” he said. “Because many, many Americans perceive that Republicans are unwilling to act on gun reform, due to the influence of the NRA and other organizations. A lot of voters, especially young voters, have lost their patience with this issue.”
- On Medium, Republican Congressman from Illinois Adam Kinzinger called for universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, raising the minimum age of gun purchase to 21, and banning large capacity magazines. “We are all made in God’s image and it’s on each of us to stand against those who would tear us apart,” wrote Kinzinger. “It’s a choice for each of us to make—I know what mine is and whatever it may cost me, I’m prepared to stand behind it, working for a better tomorrow and a safer future for our children.”
- Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who represents Dayton, announced his support for a ban on assault weapons, limits on magazine size, and extreme risk protection orders.
Now more than ever we’re beginning to see a shift in how Republicans are willing to talk about gun violence. If you agree that the Senate needs to convene an emergency session to take action on gun violence, here’s one thing you can do right now:
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