The Democratic primary for the special election in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District will be the first federal election since 20 children were killed at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The first since President Obama proposed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips.
Because of that and because the district lies partially within Chicago, which had the most murders in the U.S. last year, gun control is the number one issue in the campaign. That’s why it will be a huuuuge victory for the National Rifle Association if Debbie Halvorson wins this election.
While every other major candidate has spoken out in favor of an assault weapons ban, Halvorson is styling herself as the Annie Oakley of Illinois. During Sunday’s debate at Trinity United Church of Christ, the woman who has twice been endorsed by the NRA recited the redneck talking point about how Chicago’s murder rate proves gun control doesn’t work.
“Cook County has an assault weapons ban. We have the highest amount of murders in the country. Let’s do more about enforcing the laws we have at the same time doing more about keeping our streets safe.”
Cook County’s assault weapons ban is ineffective because local gun control laws don’t work as long as guns are available nationwide. If Halvorson goes to Congress, she’ll vote to make sure they stay available.
The NRA won’t be stupid enough to endorse Halvorson again, but if she wins, you can bet they, and their allies, will gloat. They’ll insist it’s proof that Chicago voters rejected gun control -- even though most of Halvorson’s votes will come from the district’s rural precincts.
This election is about more than a single vote in Congress. It’s about whether the NRA or the gun control movement has momentum as President Obama tries to pass his assault weapons bill.