House Republican Withdraws From Reelection After Daring To Support Gun Reforms

UNITED STATES - JUNE 17: Rep. Chris Jacobs, R-N.Y. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Rep. Chris Jacobs (R) announced Friday that he is withdrawing from his reelection bid after his recent comments in favor of gun reform made him a pariah to his party.

The first-term congressman, whose district in New York sits just miles from the Buffalo grocery store where 10 shoppers were shot and killed last month, acknowledged the political risk of embracing reforms — including a federal assault weapons ban, limits on high-capacity magazines, raising the required age for certain gun sales to 21 and banning the sale of body armor to the public — at the time. 

“I can’t in good conscience sit back and say I didn’t try to do something,” he said then. 

He told the Buffalo News that the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas had forced him to reconsider his position on guns.

A week later, his support of those reforms ended his political career. 

“I truly believe I could win this election, but it would be an incredibly divisive election for both the Republican party and the people of the 23rd district, many of whom I have not ever represented,” he said Friday at a press conference — a reference to New York state’s new maps following the latest round of redistricting. “The last thing we need is an incredibly negative, half-truth-filled media attack funded by millions of dollars of special interest money coming into our community around this issue of guns and gun violence and gun control.”

He added that he will serve out the rest of his current term representing the 27th district; he would have run in the 23rd after redistricting. 

Jacobs was facing potential primary challenges, including from the chairman of the state Republican party, and the wrath of his party. 

“‘Republican’ @RepJacobs already caved to the gun-grabbers whose proposals won’t do a single thing to protect our families & children from criminals & murderers,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted last week. “He knows this but he can’t resist getting a few glowing headlines from the mainstream media.”

Jacobs was endorsed by the NRA in 2020. 

His immediate rejection from the party shows how extreme the Republican party’s orthodoxy on guns has become: any embrace of reforms, even those with no chance of passing in the foreseeable future, is a betrayal.

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