Only six votes truly matter in the fight over gun control. Five are vulnerable Senate Democrats from deeply red states.
The five senators (with Obama 2012 vote percentages) are Mark Begich of Alaska (40.8 percent), Max Baucus of Montana (41.7 percent), Tim Johnson of South Dakota (39.9 percent), Mark Pryor of Arkansas (36.9 percent) and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana (40.6 percent).
The sixth vote is that of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who faces reelection in 2014 at a time when the state is trending toward Republicans, with Romney winning by 2 percent and Republicans reclaiming the governor’s office and three congressional seats.
Democrats hold a five-seat majority in the Senate, 55-45. Gun-control legislation might very well require 60 votes, and these six Democrats will be the ones to watch.
Red-state America cannot stand being lectured by wealthy Northeastern liberals about guns, when most of them have never fired one, cannot tell the difference between semi-automatic and automatic and have their children in private schools with armed security.
In these red states, and in many other parts of America, voters know that Democrats are using the Newtown tragedy to push an ideologically driven anti-gun agenda. If gun confiscation were politically saleable, they would push that instead, as it is their ultimate legislative aim.
For if preventing school shootings were the goal, why hasn’t President Obama embraced universal, armed school security? If he is against expanding it, then is he against armed school security in every school?
For if solving mass murders were truly the goal, why has President Obama almost completely ignored violence in mass media and video games and the mental health side of the issue?
Instead, the three main parts of his agenda are an assault-weapons ban (which had 900 exemptions and did nothing to reduce gun crime from 1995 to 2005, when we last had one), universal registration (closing the farcically named “gun show loophole” which has been inaccurately described, as authorized gun distributors, even at gun shows, still must use background checks) and reducing the amount of ammunition in available magazine clips (from 10 to seven, as if a person shot with seven bullets would live but eight would die).
This gun-control push has the potential to awaken the sleeping giant of the electorate — the same silent majority that swung the 2010 midterms in historic fashion to Republicans, with a 63-seat gain in the House and six in the U.S. Senate.
Apart from the Senate, the honest truth is that no legislation near what the White House has proposed can pass the Republican-controlled House, where Republicans have 234 members.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly protected his vulnerable incumbents from tough votes. Surely he will do so again on guns, right?
If the White House misfires politically, the gun issue could return the Senate to Republican control in 2014, thus ending the ability of President Obama to enact any agenda in his final two years in office.
Matt Mackowiak is an Austin, Texas- and Washington, D.C.-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.