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Off to the races: Guns and the culture wars

Ron Brownstein: “It’s no coincidence that gay marriage, gun control, and immigration are all in the news this month. Their prominence measures a critical political shift: In the culture wars, the offense and defense have switched sides. For decades after the cultural upheavals of the 1960s, Republicans regularly provoked confrontations on a broad array of polarizing noneconomic “wedge issues,” from crime and welfare to immigration and gay rights. Democrats, with a few exceptions, mostly tried through those years to neutralize the debates and quickly pivot back to economic terrain. Now, that has flipped.”

“Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly are going big in Times Square with a larger-than-life push to stem gun violence,” The New York Daily News reports. “The former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, who narrowly survived a January 2011 shooting that left six people dead, will appear alongside her ex-astronaut husband on a huge billboard smack dab in the middle of the Crossroads of the World.”

CONNECTICUT: Wayne LaPierre predictably doesn’t like Connecticut’s new gun laws: “I think the problem with what Connecticut did, is the criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren’t going to cooperate. All you’re doing is making the law books thicker for the law-abiding people,” he said on FOX.

FLORIDA: The AP has the backstory of why the Florida lieutenant governor resigned. “Former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said Thursday she had no idea law enforcement was investigating a veterans charity accused of running illegal slot machine-style casinos until two agents walked into her office last month. She was taking photos with people in her office on March 12 when she was told the agents wanted to speak to her. When the agents walked out about 20 minutes later, Gov. Rick Scott’s chief of staff was waiting outside her office. He told her Scott wanted her to resign. She immediately said yes and called her husband to let him know.”

MARYLAND: “The Maryland Senate gave final approval to Gov. Martin O'Malley's sweeping gun control bill Thursday night, sending the legislation to the governor for his promised signature,” the Baltimore Sun writes. “O'Malley said in a statement that the bill strikes ‘a balance between protecting the safety of law enforcement and our children, and respecting the traditions of hunters and law-abiding citizens to purchase handguns for self-protection.’ The legislation bans the sale of assault-style weapons, requires fingerprints and a license to buy a handgun, and limits magazines to 10 bullets, among other provisions, giving Maryland one of the strictest gun laws in the nation.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Saying ‘I don’t think I’m done with politics,’ former Senator Scott Brown stressed his ties to New Hampshire following a speech in Nashua on Thursday and refused to rule out a run for elective office in the Granite State,” the Boston Globe reports. “Brown, speaking to reporters after delivering the keynote speech at a dinner to mark the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, noted that he owns a home in New Hampshire, has ‘been a taxpayer’ there for 20 years, and has relatives who live in the state. When asked directly if he would rule out a run for office in New Hampshire, Brown — who lost his reelection bid in Massachusetts in November to current Senator Elizabeth Warren — left his options open. ‘I’m not going to rule out anything right now, because I really haven’t thought a heck of a lot about it,’ said Brown.”

A poll out last month found Brown in a good position if he ran for governor of Massachusetts. “The UMass Lowell-Boston Herald poll found nearly 59 percent of Massachusetts voters say they are very or somewhat likely to vote for Brown in next year’s gubernatorial contest next year,” the AP wrote then.

So this is a thing… “A Political Action Committee (PAC) launched this week to support bearded candidates, according to paperwork filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission (FEC),” The Hill reports. The Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (BEARD) was founded by 30-year-old Jonathan Sessions, who sits on the Columbia, Mo., Board of Education, according to his website. ‘With the resurgence of beards in popular culture and among today’s younger generation, we believe the time is now to bring facial hair back into politics,’ Sessions said in a statement.”