Dems Seize on Guns — with Lessons From Immigration Fight

Democratic leaders are working closely with activists to keep the party united and gun control on the agenda.

The last time Donald Trump publicly pushed for a big bipartisan deal, it ended badly for Democrats — with no action on immigration and their base furious.

They’re determined it won’t happen again.

Democratic leaders are working closely with rank-and-file lawmakers and activists, taking steps to stay unified on guns and avoid the kind of strategic lurches that fueled the failed fight over Dreamers.

So Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are acknowledging that big-ticket gun control is probably a non-starter in Congress, given entrenched opposition among Republicans. Instead, they’re working to seize on the mounting public outrage and press their advantage by stoking big turnouts to demonstrations later this month planned by survivors of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

It helps that the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting appears to have staying power, with polls showing stronger support for gun control and activists reporting a surge in grass-roots involvement. Multiple Democratic lawmakers left meetings with student survivors last week convinced that the tragedy would prove to be a pivot point.

And unlike with immigration, Democrats aren’t feeling the pressure of hard deadlines, either to act on Dreamers or fund the government.

Democrats also know they can’t rely too much on Trump, who is already cozying back up to the National Rifle Association after calling for expansive gun control measures.

Still, asked whether he is concerned about leaving gun control backers as disappointed as the immigrant-rights activists were, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said: “Absolutely.”

“We are in serious jeopardy of raising expectations when the president has proved to give new meaning to the word ‘fickle’ when it comes to his positions on issues,” Blumenthal said in an interview. “If you fool me once, shame on you. If you fool me twice, shame on me.”

By Elena Schor and Heather Caygle for POLITICO
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