In Brief

Gun controls win over Republicans with small majorities

Lawmakers in swing states are giving up decades of party orthodoxy on gun ownership

US Republican politicians facing tight elections are embracing gun control measures, in an effort to win over moderate voters, a review has found.

Analysis by Reuters shows the fall-out from last month’s Parkland school shooting, which claimed the lives of 17 students and teachers and sparked a nationwide debate on gun restrictions, has shifted the message for Republicans in swing states.

Over half of Republican incumbents facing re-election in November in key districts analysed by the news agency have publicly embraced new gun control measures in the wake of the shooting on 14 February.

However limited the shift, “it shows that lawmakers who will depend on the votes of moderates and independents to win tough swing-district races are deviating from decades of party orthodoxy on gun ownership”, says Reuters.

Republican candidates in safer seats are more likely to stick to the party line on guns.

Gun control has long been a divisive issues in American politics. The National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful and feared lobbying organisations in Washington, capable of making or breaking candidates.

But the tide could finally be turning. A recent Ipsos poll found three-quarters of Americans favour banning military-style assault weapons, while nearly nine in ten supported expanding background checks for gun buyers.

Gun control is anathema to many in the Republican party, but if public opinion begins to shift decisively in favour of more restrictions political expediency could trump ideology – or even fear of the NRA.

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