Gun rights supporters have been talking a lot about women lately, claiming that any new gun regulations will impact the ability of women to defend themselves against attackers. Join the call for new firearms regulations, they’ve said, and you risk alienating the women voters.
Former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), leader of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, told TPM Tuesday that view of things is exactly backwards.
“I think the Republican Party, at its peril, is seen as in the pocket of the NRA and not willing to engage in the conversation,” LaTourette said during a roundtable organized by the partnership in Washington. “We haven’t fixed our problem as a party with women. And women don’t quite understand why the Republican Party, in my opinion, is so resistant to doing what the Supreme Court said in the Heller decision … that yes, the Second Amendment is an individual right that needs to be protected just like the right to free speech and the right to have a jury trial but you can have reasonable regulations upon that right.”
“To just say, ‘No, we’re not even going to have a conversation,’ that’s a perception [the GOP] shouldn’t have,” he said.
LaTourette, who said he had an “A” rating from the NRA while in Congress, called for a middle ground the so-called gun show loophole, saying a system should be set up so buyers could be pre-screened for legal gun possession before sales took place. That way, he said, people could still buy weapons at temporary gun shows that might not be able to because a background check might not be complete before the gun show closed. LaTourette said some supporters of closing the loophole were “being too cute by half,” and hoping that the potential time constraints on background checks would make gun shows unworkable. He shouted out some of his colleagues working on bipartisan gun trafficking legislation in the House as an indication that there’s at least some chance at gun legislation in the divided Congress.
LaTourette was joined at the roundtable by two sitting members of congress and members of the partnership: Reps. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY). Dent said he was open to expanding background checks and both men joined LaTourette in a call for a new tone when it comes to guns.
But they didn’t set expectations for that happening in the current Congress very high.
“I think a lot of it does deal with tone, and there are some issues that we can come to consensus on. You can call yourself pro-life or pro-choice and still vote for an appropriations bill that still has the Hyde language in it,” Dent said. “There are ways to find consensus on some of these hot button issues at least on some aspects of these issues, whether it be on abortion or firearms or some other issue.”
“But it’s no different than a lot of issues,” Hanna said. “If what goes to the floor, if the conversation that ensues is ‘those people represent the extremes,’ then those conversations don’t go nearly as far as if both parties talk about things that generally is more acceptable to more people. But that doesn’t usually happen down there. And it probably won’t happen with the gun issue.”