Will guns be an issue in midterms? You can bet on it in these districts

Will guns be an issue in midterms? You can bet on it in these districts
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After the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many political pundits speculated that the midterm election cycle would be dominated by the issue of guns. They expected students and activists to swarm districts, shaming Congress into acting, if not for moral reasons then for the overriding rationale of political survival.

We’ll know soon. Within the next few weeks, school will be out for most of the country. College and high school commencements will have concluded. Summer vacation will be in full swing, but there’ll be a new political science test for student activists. Will their predicted political energy surge or dissipate? Will it be applied with pinpoint precision or will it be scattered and, therefore, diluted? I’m betting on the students to pass these tests. But here’s a study guide of five districts where their energy matters the most this summer.

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Virginia, 10th District — In the suburbs and exurbs of Washington, Republican Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockGun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE has regularly voted against gun safety laws and received an “A” rating from the NRA. Six Democrats are running in a June 12 primary, all unified in their support for common-sense policies on guns, including background checks. If a strong Democratic candidate emerges, this will be one of most flippable districts in the country, with a vivid contrast in gun safety issues.

Minnesota, 2nd District — Angie Craig, a former health-care employee and newspaper reporter, is running in the Twin Cities metropolitan area against Republican incumbent Rep. Jason LewisJason Mark LewisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Former GOP Rep. Jason Lewis says he'll challenge Tina Smith in Minnesota Republicans must push through genuine health care reform MORE, who has an “A” rating from the NRA. Craig has an “F” rating from the NRA and supports a ban on military-style, semi-automatic weapons as well as “bump stocks” and other attachments that increase the lethality of certain firearms.

Colorado, 6th District — Near Denver, Jason Crow is a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is now an attorney and veterans advocate who’s running against Republican Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE, who has an “A” rating from the NRA. Crow has promised to support expanded background checks, end the gun show loophole, prevent sales to persons on the “no fly, no buy” list as well as domestic abusers and the mentally ill, ban military-style weapons, and other common-sense ideas.

Washington, 5th District — Lisa Brown, who was given a “D” rating by the NRA during her final term as the majority leader in the Washington state senate, is facing Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersSocial determinants of health — health care isn't just bugs and bacteria Lawmakers deride FTC settlement as weak on Facebook Overnight Energy: Fight over fuel standards intensifies | Democrats grill Trump officials over rule rollback | California official blasts EPA chief over broken talks | Former EPA official says Wheeler lied to Congress MORE, who has an “A” rating from the NRA, in eastern Washington. Brown has voted for gun safety in the state legislature and, if elected to Congress, promises to support a strengthened background check system and allow the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence as a public health issue.

New York, 19th District — In Hudson Valley, a June 26 primary will select a Democrat to oppose Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority MORE, another Republican incumbent with an “A” rating from the NRA. All of the leading Democrats have strong stances against the gun lobby. Pat Ryan is a combat veteran who makes a compelling case that weapons of war should be used in, well, war. (Full disclosure: I’ve contributed to Ryan.) Other Democratic candidates — Jeff Beals, David Clegg, Erin Collier, Antonio Delgado, Brian Flynn and Gareth Rhodes — also have strong positions favoring gun safety. This is one race in New York where a gun lobby loyalist can be replaced by someone who will stand up to the gun lobby.

Opponents of stronger background checks and other sensible measures are betting on our children to fail. They’re hoping they go to the beach instead of a phone bank, and sit around streaming instead of knocking on doors. If these opponents are right, if faithful NRA incumbents are reelected in competitive districts even after the outrage of Parkland and Santa Fe, Texas, and whatever tragedy comes next, even in the most competitive midterm environment in a decade, then don’t expect change anytime soon. If not now, probably never, which means there’s work to be done this summer vacation.

Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelIs war with Iran on the horizon? 3D-printable guns will require us to rethink our approach on gun safety The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Democrats set for Lone Star showdown MORE represented New York in Congress for 16 years. He served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011 to 2015. He is the author of the new novel “Big Guns,” a satire of the gun lobby. You can follow him on Twitter @RepSteveIsrael.