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Republicans Face Questions on Gun Stance As NRA Meeting Looms

Republicans are distressed about the prospect of losing younger voters over their stances on abortion, firearms and democracy. By week’s end, their challenges on those three fronts could grow worse, Politico reports. Days after a mass shooting in Louisville, many declared and undeclared 2024 candidates will be brandishing their Second Amendment bona fides at the National Rifle Association’s annual leadership forum in Indianapolis. From there, a number of the candidates will travel south on I-65, where they will make their cases to the Republican National Committee in Nashville, the site not only of another mass shooting, but also the state GOP-led ejection of two Black Democratic lawmakers over gun issues.

“Talking at the NRA meeting in Indianapolis then going to the RNC meeting in Nashville all fits together,” said Paul Helmke, the former Republican mayor of Fort Wayne, Ind., who now heads the Brady Center/Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “You’re giving a single unified message: You don’t brook dissent or disagreement on guns.” The cattle calls in Indiana and Tennessee, on the books for months and aimed at reaffirming core principles for the party, come at a moment when there are growing questions from within about its direction. Inside the party’s headquarters, there has been recognition that Republicans need to change their message on abortion with pollsters arguing for a more moderate tack. Among some committee members, there is a belief that the GOP’s image could be bolstered if it lessened its strident opposition to gun safety measures, especially among a group of voters who are just engaging in national politics. “Every life matters,” said Oscar Brock, an RNC member from Tennessee. “Including those three 9-year-old kids in Green Hills,” the neighborhood in Nashville where they were shot and killed at school. Brock believes the party is suffering among swing voters on the issue of guns and abortion. But while a corner of the party has begun pushing for nuance, others are making the case for staying the course on long-held policies.


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