Politicians know they incur a big political risk if they support gun-control legislation. Gun-control advocates have to demonstrate that there is also a political risk if they do not support sensible gun legislation.
The only way to do that is to defeat someone who voted against background checks. Their defeat will become a “teachable moment.”
Three of the four Democratic senators who voted against background checks on Wednesday are up for re-election next year. They represent conservative, largely rural states that voted for Mitt Romney last year: Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Max Baucus of Montana.
The fact that they are running next year was almost certainly the main reason why they were unwilling to support the amendment. (The fourth Democratic “no” vote, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, is not up for re-election until 2018.)
Any campaign to defeat these senators would surely cause the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups to rally to their support – and send the message that opposing gun control can save you.