Legislative leaders in Connecticut yesterday announced that they had reached a bipartisan agreement on gun reform. The package includes universal background checks for buying guns and a ban on using high-capacity magazines outside of your home or a licensed shooting range. Connecticut State Senate President Donald Williams told us last night that even though his Democratic majority could push through legislation on party lines, they wanted to work with Republicans to get consensus. "If we can do it in Connecticut, this ought to move across the country, and they ought to hear that loud and clear in Washington, D.C.," Williams said.
Now comes the question of whether Connecticut's approach will engender the same level of backlash now happening in Colorado and New York, the first states to put new restrictions on guns after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School -- and the follow-up question of whether any backlash carries real political consequences.
In New York the uproar has taken the form of Upstate counties, far more rural than the counties in and around New York City, passing symbolic resolutions that call for repealing or amending the gun reform law. Those votes continue, with Tompkins County, in blue on the map below, possibly taking one tonight. Tompkins County has a population of 101,564, the size of a single Brooklyn neighborhood. Lacking in numbers, opponents of the law are making as much racket about it as they can. The Republican minority in the New York State Assembly, for example, posted this clip of Representative Bill Nojay pledging last week that Upstaters will not enforce the law:
Notice that Nojay defines the issues in clear geographic terms, and not in terms of party:
Let me state what the reaction has been to this act once the people north of the Bronx, and with the exception of the People's Republic and certain other little hotspots of Upstate, the rest of us have demanded that our elected county clerks will not administer this law. Our sheriffs, elected by the people, will not enforce this law. Our juries, who are the people, will not convict under this law. And our citizens, being free citizens and not subjects, will not obey this law.
New York's legislation may have moved through in a hurry -- that's how power moves here, at all once -- and it may have come up for revision, but it moved with support from several Senate Republicans, many of them from Downstate.
The New York law has remained broadly popular: A poll last month found 61 percent of New York residents say they support it, but that includes just 43 percent of New Yorkers who live Upstate. The map below, by a website opposing the law, gives you a good sense of where counties have come out against the New York measure.
I've been thinking a lot about the phenomenon of what you folks first started calling Blue Dots, progressives living in conservative states. The other day, Rachel pointed out that Red Dots in blue states are generally more like Red Swathes, since progressives tend to clump together in cities, while conservatives tend to dominate wide tracts with far fewer people. That is what we see now in New York, a blue state with a lot of angry rural counties. (In the map below, red is where more people are.)