Democrats are primarily going to be playing defense in next year’s midterm elections, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a list of seats they’d love to flip, and North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District is one of the Left’s top priorities. The seat, held by freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn, is in a conservative part of the state, and Cawthorn won in 2020 by 12-points, so flipping the seat is going to be tough, and Democrats aren’t going to do it by running an AOC of the Appalachians. A Joe Manchin-y figure might be more palatable for the voters of NC-11, and one Democrat running to replace Cawthorn is billing herself as a blue collar candidate who wants to “reach across the aisle” and find “common ground” with Republicans.
Sounds great, except that when it comes down to specifics, Katie Dean sounds more like Dianne Feinstein than Joe Manchin (who’s already soft and squishy when it comes to supporting the Second Amendment). In an interview with the Smoky Mountain News, Dean was asked several questions about gun control and the right to keep and bear arms, and her responses were less than awe-inspiring.
What does common sense gun reform mean to you?
KD: Universal background checks.
Why? Why does a law that has absolutely no preventative impact on violent crime represent “common sense gun reform”? Because it polls well? Because it doesn’t involve a gun ban, so you can appear “reasonable”? That can’t be it, because as it turns out Dean also supports banning modern sporting rifles, though it seems like she’s willing to admit it wouldn’t do much.
SMN: What you said about Scalia — all of these Amendments in the Constitution have limits. The First Amendment has limits as to the time, place and manner of your speech. The Second Amendment has limits that we already observe. People talk about limiting the ability to purchase assault weapons, or limiting the ability to purchase high-capacity magazines. Do you support limiting either of those things?
KD: Yes, with the caveat that the way our policy is designed to understand that the limitations and parameters that they set and we saw from 1994 to 2004, with the assault weapons ban, that it’s very easy at this point to engineer around those pieces of legislation. So my concern is, what is going to solve the gun violence epidemic that face in our country? And as of right now, I think if we instituted an assault weapon ban today, if they just at the stroke of a pen passed that piece of legislation, I think that we would still have a lot of the same issues that we face.
If Katie Dean doesn’t think a ban would accomplish much, then why support it? Dean’s seems to be fine with any and all gun control laws, which may explain why she views support for the Second Amendment as an “issue” that needs to be solved.
You have people that are fighting to uphold the Second Amendment, which is fine and fair. The Second Amendment is written into the Constitution, just like all of the other amendments, and then you have the gun violence epidemic and those are two parallel issues that we’re trying to solve simultaneously. You’ll hear me consistently throughout our campaign talk about education and responsible gun ownership, and right now what we have is a United States Congressman who doesn’t even know where his weapons are when he goes to board a plane.
It’s a decent zinger directed at Cawthorn, who recently left a firearm in a carry-on bag that was discovered by TSA in Asheville, North Carolina, but it’s a line that’ll play well with the anti-gun Democratic base and not the gun owners in western North Carolina that Dean needs to court if she’s going to have a chance at upsetting and unseating Cawthorn next November.
NC-11 was once held by Blue Dog Democrat Heath Shuler, the former Washington Redskins quarterback who unseated an eight-term Republican in part because Shuler ran a campaign that was pro-Second Amendment. Shuler held on to the seat until redistricting made NC-11 a more Republican-friendly seat for congresscritters, but I have no doubt that if he’d run on a platform of “common sense gun safety laws” he wouldn’t have been elected in the first place.
As a Second Amendment supporter, I want to see my right to keep and bear arms backed by politicians in both parties, and I’ve been encouraged to see some on the Left speak out against new gun control laws or existing restrictions, even if their arguments are based more on criminal justice reform than respect for an individual right. Katie Dean, on the other hand, has indicated that she’s going to toe the party line when it comes to gun control, while failing to do much but parrot the talking points of anti-gun activists.
That may be enough for the Democratic base in NC-11, but it’s not going to do her (or her fellow Democrats) much good in the general election. The really sad thing is that Dean’s support for a gun ban, a magazine ban, and universal background checks is what passes for “moderation” when it comes to Democrats and gun control these days. It wasn’t always that way, at least in North Carolina’s 11th District, but the days of the Blue Dogs are over and they’ve been replaced by the attack dogs of the anti-gun movement instead.