Both sides in the debate over gun policy are indulging in stereotypes and name-calling, fueled by a distrust bred from previous culture war fights. As the NRA convention continues this weekend, are red and blue America really so far apart?
To proponents of stricter gun control, some of whom will protest outside the convention hall on Saturday, “common sense” proposals such as expanded background checks on gun buyers could immediately improve safety in a country where handguns are involved in about 30,000 deaths a year, two-thirds of them suicides.
But to many of America’s gun owners, some 70,000 of whom have also flocked to Houston, any measure of additional federal gun control is tantamount to a Trojan horse in a broader culture war – a way not only to suppress gun rights, but also to conduct a sneak attack on attitudes, viewpoints, and a lifestyle that they hold dear, all in the name of "gun safety."
That cultural divide seems only to be growing, as NRA members gather this weekend and as Vice President Joe Biden vowed Friday to try again on expanded background checks. Each side seems intent on playing up the indignity of the other's position – some indulging in name-calling and flame-throwing – perhaps with an eye to rousing their political allies ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake. The upshot is a debate that intensifies regional splits and serves to exacerbate the red/blue political divide, say some analysts.
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