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Matthew Yglesias

Guns Are Not a Winning Issue for Democrats

The vast majority of the people who care passionately about the topic are on the conservative side.

Boulder, Colo., March 24, 2021.

Boulder, Colo., March 24, 2021.


Gun control is back on the national agenda. While the killings in Georgia two weeks ago mostly prompted dialogue about motives and anti-Asian hate crimes, the murder of 10 last week in Colorado led President Joe Biden to urge Congress not “to wait another minute” before acting on gun regulation proposals, including a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

The urgency is understandable. But from a political standpoint, Democrats would be better off focusing on parts of their agenda that have more realistic prospects of success. It’s not just that the odds are low for passing even modest gun-control legislation. It’s that the kinds of measures that are politically feasible would have little effect without policing reform, while those that would save large numbers of lives are politically toxic.