If you want to know how far the conversation over gun control has moved away from the NRA's grasp since the Valentine's Day shooting in Parkland, Florida, look no further than Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator with an A- rating from the gun lobbying organization:
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) on Sunday said both parties will “suffer” if Congress doesn’t take up gun legislation.
“If we don’t take this up and Democrats don’t work with us, we’ll all suffer and we should,” Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The South Carolina senator argued Republicans must work across party lines on the gun issue.
There's two levels of absolute heresy here. The first is working with the Democrats on anything that the left wants and the second, of course, is going against NRA orthodoxy and suggesting that there is any possible legislation that can deal with gun violence that does not involve making guns easier to buy.
Graham doesn't specifically say he wants gun control legislation to deal with the violence but since that's the only kind of legislation that the public will accept as "doing something", it's very clear what he's talking about. Republicans have been pushing the NRA talking point about arming teachers, with the Florida Republicans going so far as to vote on legislation to fund the nonsensical idea, as a distraction but it hasn't been working. In fact, it's come across as particularly tone deaf and has only served to increase the public pressure on lawmakers to do something useful instead of making matters worse.
Graham is wrong about one thing, however. He suggested that both parties will "suffer" if Congress doesn't do anything about gun violence before the election and while it's true that the Democrats have a few anti-gun control atavisms, mostly in red states, there's a general consensus among the party that gun control has to happen. There's a healthy debate of how far to go and what needs to be done among Democrats but the public is quite aware that only one party is trying to get guns off the street and the other party is entirely owned by the NRA.
That's not to say gun control is a partisan issue at its core because it's not. Republicans have made it one by turning it into a culture war issue and Lindsey Graham is trying to warn his fellow Republicans that the bill for that incredibly bad decision is about to come due and bite them in the ass in November. Republicans are already looking at a brutal midterm wipeout even with gerrymandering, voter suppression and Russian interference left unchecked by Trump and GOP collaborators, add the usual "thoughts and prayers" inaction on top of it in the face of a large and growing national movement to deal with gun violence and the wipeout threatens to become existential in nature. And this is just after three weeks of pressure after Parkland. Three. Weeks. What's it going to be like in three months?
Let's hope Republicans heed Graham's warning and finally take steps to alleviate the carnage. And if they don't, remember in November that Republicans were more interested in the NRA's money than in keeping your children safe and vote accordingly.