Fact: Guns kill people. A homicidal maniac with a gun is going to have a higher success rate than a homicidal maniac with a knife.
Fact: The AR-15 rifle is a scary-looking piece of weaponry, but it is actually unpopular as a killing tool. In 2010, handguns were responsible for 75% of gun-related homicides.
Fact: A handgun is far easier to conceal for surreptitious purposes, making it a more effective killing tool.
With the recent massacre of 17 high school students in Florida, gun control has again risen as a hot political topic.
The typical reaction from left-leaning progressive liberals is to raise the standard gun-control talking points, ranging from more restrictive background checks to comprehensive bans. The use of the AR-15 during the most recent massacre presents a huge opportunity to leverage its frightening appearance. However, any attempt to restrict access to rifles is merely a superficial appeal to emotion and won't have much of a real impact on total gun violence. With constituents awakened by another massacre, the environment is ripe for progress on gun control - whether real or superficial - and the natural reaction is to seize the opportunity.
However, I have a warning for Democrats: NOW IS NOT THE TIME!
What in God's name do I mean?
With the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling and other improprieties tied directly or indirectly to the Trump administration, Democrats have the ear of many Republicans who have recently turned their backs on Trump. On this topic alone, Democrats now have the political capital to take back the House and Senate during the 2018 mid-term elections. That is, if they stay on message.
To win back the House and Senate in 2018, Democrats need to represent the survival of democracy, the return of political capability and the resurgence of normalcy. The 2015 status quo is quite appealing to most Americans right now.
The Republicans would like nothing more than to remind their constituents that Democrats want to take away their guns. And they likely will attempt to make gun rights a topic of debate. If Democrats today take a hard stance on gun rights, they will only fuel the distracting election debate. Worse, if Democrats target rifles, they'll have completely squandered effect for image, while turning off fence-sitting Republicans.
Republicans who have otherwise abandoned Trump will still vote Red if they think their 2nd Amendment rights are under attack. That is a fact.
My advice to Democrats is to present a soft, feel-good message on mass shootings that taps into the vein of civility and normalcy that both Democratic and Republican voters think is missing from the current administration. With the recent school shooting, Americans right now are looking at the current administration to do something about guns - so Democrats would do well to sit back and let Trump muddle through it. Given his track record so far, he's likely to shoot himself in the foot.