If there’s one issue that could decide Ohio’s First Congressional District race, it’s gun control.
Voters have a clear choice between Rep. Steve Chabot, an 11-term incumbent with a track record of supporting the Second Amendment, and his Democrat challenger Aftab Pureval, who has been upfront about his disdain for guns and desire to rein in Americans’ ability to purchase them.
Pureval, a 35-year-old attorney and current Clerk of Courts for Hamilton County, recently told Bluewave Crowdsource he is a three-year member of @MomsDemandAction, an anti-gun lobby started with money from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Moms’ answers to “gun violence” come from the perspective that guns alone kill people, not the criminals who pull the triggers.
“I was at two [anti-gun] marches yesterday and they were incredibly powerful,” Pureval told Bluewave. “I’ve also been a member of @MomsDemand for 3 years. We should outlaw bump stocks, limit magazine capacity, and ban military style assault weapons. Congress has to do better to protect our kids.”
Most of Pureval’s solutions to rising crime involve measures that would disproportionately impact the ability of women and other law-abiding citizens to purchase guns to protect themselves.
Chabot, speaking to a North Dakota TV station, said it remains to be seen how passing new laws restricting legal gun purchases would make anyone safer.
Pureval also has the endorsement of the anti-Second Amendment Giffords Super PAC, which recently cut him a $2,000 check.
Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who founded the organization, made a personal stop in Cincinnati on June 18 to promote Pureval’s candidacy, urging a group of about 125 women to get out the vote for him.
Pureval has already taken in $7,575 in donations from groups advocating stricter gun control as of June 30, the most recent campaign-finance filing deadline, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics at OpenSecrets.org, which places him in the top-25 congressional candidates nationwide for anti-gun donations.
Gun control has never been a winning issue for Democrats in competitive races, according to Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.
Bill Clinton attributed his loss of the Democratic majority in Congress in 1994 to his party making a big call for more restrictions on gun owners, Pratt said.
In a recent letter to supporters Pratt points out that Hillary Clinton was the most overtly pro-gun control candidate to run for the presidency since 2000 and Al Gore. She was upset by the pro-gun rights candidate Donald Trump.
She was “betting that Sandy Hook [school shooting] had changed the political equation for the general election,” Pratt writes. “It did not.”
The same bet is now being made by Pureval and scores of other Democrats running in the 2018 midterm elections. They are betting that the Feb. 18 tragedy that left 17 dead at a high school in Parkland, Florida, has changed the dynamics of the debate.
Democrats believe now is the time to “capitalize” on the issue, Tyler Law, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told KFGO in Fargo, North Dakota.
“Republican inaction will continue to generate political backlash and help Democrats take back the House,” he said.
A spokesman for the Republican Party’s congressional campaign arm, Jesse Hunt, predicts the politics of gun violence will play out differently in every district and that the party’s candidates will pick their own positions.
It remains to be seen how it will play out in Ohio’s 1st congressional district.
Chabot said he has heard from voters on both sides of the gun issue.
“I don’t think anyone knows if it’s going to have an impact” on the election, said Chabot, who is not convinced more gun restrictions will prevent the uptick in violence being seen across the country.