One of the challenges of being a Democrat in a rural place is that you are often trying to convince your neighbors to join your cause for economic reasons (Democrats have, historically, reduced the national debt and grown jobs while Republicans have, historically, tightened the job market and driven up the national debt). But, while you’re saying all that, your neighbors are concerned about gun control. They genuinely fear that Democratic policies will cause them to lose their rights to own guns and use them legally.
Guns are a huge part of the culture in northern Minnesota and many other parts of the country. It’s not that our people are specifically worried about violent crime, black helicopters and brutal government oppression (though some are), it’s that guns are emblematic of our culture, the concept of freedom and independence. Guns are an important part of my friends’ and family’s identity as hunters and independent-minded northern folks.
So today is a very important day for Democrats in rural areas. The Supreme Court has ruled that Washington D.C.’s landmark law banning handguns is unconstitutional. The Court’s decision affirms a law abiding American citizen’s right to own guns.
What this means is that the federal and state governments can no longer pass gun laws that don’t meet this new Constitutional standard. This further means that Republicans can no longer accuse Democrats of seeking — in the open or in secret — new laws to restrict gun ownership as a way to drum up votes from rural people. The Second Amendment is now defined quite clearly. Barack Obama, when pushed on his negative rating from the National Rifle Association, can (and should) say that legal gun ownership is an established right, we need to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and focus on reducing violent crime in our cities. Political analyst Taegan Goddard says this Supreme Court decision takes gun control out of the national debate.
Which leaves voters to ask other questions. Whose got the best ideas for the economy? Who’s got the most effective foreign policy for the 21st century. Who’s going to fix my damn road?
These are all Democratic issues, or at least they should be, so today is a big victory for rural Democrats.