This Democrat Doesn’t Want to Ban Assault Weapons. Republicans Are Attacking Him Anyway.

In the first major election after Parkland, the GOP isn’t backing off its pro-gun rhetoric.

Conor Lamb

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

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Next month’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th district, between Republican state Sen. Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb, will be the first congressional election after last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida. While many Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have been put on the defensive by a series of massive student-led protests, the party hasn’t adjusted its rhetoric in the Trump-loving western Pennsylvania district. Here’s a campaign flyer distributed in an upscale neighborhood in the district by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC associated with the House Republican leadership:

Lamb mailer
CLF mailer

It touts Saccone’s NRA endorsement and attacks Lamb as a puppet of Nancy Pelosi—and Hillary Clinton!—who wants more gun control.

The irony here is that Lamb, a former prosecutor, doesn’t actually want much more gun control, and he’s taken some heat from Democrats because of it. At a recent debate, Lamb said he would not support a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 reportedly used by the Florida shooter. He echoed a statement he made after the Florida shooting, saying that Congress should shore up existing safeguards rather than drafting new laws. (He did say he supported efforts to close the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows private sales of guns to be conducted without a background check.) For his part, Saccone also rejected the idea of an assault weapons ban and lamented that “the left’s first response is always to disarm law-abiding citizens whenever there’s an incident like this.”

The Republican attacks on Lamb are perhaps instructive for other Democratic candidates running in red districts. Even if you explicitly say you won’t support Nancy Pelosi, you’ll still be typecast as “Nancy’s little Lamb.” And you’ll be accused of grabbing guns even if you explicitly take gun control off the table.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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