Candidates aren't backing down on gun safety this year.
In a dramatic political and cultural shift, more candidates running for office this year are touting gun-safety messages than are bragging about their support of the NRA.
The move comes as some Republicans find themselves on the defensive when it comes to their ties to the radical gun group.
"Democrats are driving the surge in advertising favoring gun control as polling shows the public generally supports stricter laws covering the sale of firearms and overwhelmingly supports expanded background checks," USA Today reports.
"Candidates and outside groups — particularly in House and governors races — are flooding the airwaves with pointed and sometimes dramatic messages," USA Today added.
Through the first seven months of the year, the total number of campaign ads in governors, House and Senate races favoring gun control outpaced those opposed to it.
In total, the gun safety ads represent 59 percent of the total TV spots that took an explicit position in the gun debate, according to new data from Kantar Media. That's up from 31 percent in 2016 and 11 percent in 2014.
Specifically in House races, ads supporting gun safety represent 67 percent of campaign ads with explicit gun messages, compared to 26 percent in 2016 and 6 percent in 2014.
For Democrats, the embrace of gun safety messaging represents a dramatic shift in electoral strategy.
"For decades, prominent Democratic candidates, especially in battleground states, have sought to reassure voters of their support for protections under the Second Amendment for the right to bear arms," USA Today notes.
But in the wake of public outcry over this year's deadly mass shootings, and the NRA and the GOP's absolute refusal to address the public-safety issue, Democrats are going on the offensive.
That shift comes as NRA finds itself increasingly on the losing end of public opinion. That's likely driven both by its callous indifference to gun violence victims, and to its increasingly controversial involvement with shady Russian money during the 2016 election cycle.
Once seen as an all-powerful political ally, it now seems Republicans might have to take a different approach.
In a stunning display of GOP backpedaling, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), who over the years has benefited from more than $3 million in NRA support, recently publicly denied the gun group has ever contributed to her campaigns.
“We don’t receive dollars from the NRA,” Ernst replied, when pressed at a town hall about her NRA affiliation last week. “That would be illegal."
But Ernst was being deeply disingenuous. She ranks in the top 10 list of senators who have benefited most from NRA money over the course of their careers. In return, she rewards the group by robotically voting in favor of its dangerous gun agenda.
Now, Democratic candidates have lost incentive to stay silent, and have officially taken the reins.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.