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ELECTION Reflecting on fast fall of Jacobs

The stunning fall from grace for Rep. Chris Jacobs usually only happens when a crime has been committed or some sort of physical impropriety has happened.

To see a sitting Congressman, soon to be representing a safe congressional district with all the advantages of an incumbent, be forced to pull out of a race in less than a week is startling, particularly given the circumstances.

Jacobs’ political support dried up at the public mention that he would vote for tougher federal laws limiting access to body armor, raising the age to buy high-capacity semi-automatic weapons to 21 and support to ban weapons “like an AR-15.”

The backlash against Jacobs was swift and loud. Republican support evaporated almost overnight. Within a week, Jacobs was forced to abandon his bid for the redistricted seat formerly held by Rep. Tom Reed.

To be clear, the solutions Jacobs and many Democrats have espoused will not likely solve the gun violence problem facing the nation by themselves. Focusing on guns and social media companies, as the state Legislature did at the end of its legislative session, without focusing the same attention on mental health and the societal factors that are driving some people to perform such unspeakable acts of horror as the mass shooting in Buffalo or the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But a convincing case hasn’t been made to conservatives why they should accept limits that criminals refuse to accept, nor why they should compromise when underlying problems are allowed to fester, untouched by government policy and, in fact, often made worse by government policy.

There is broad national support (74% of all respondents regardless of political party) to raise the age to buy any gun to 21 years of age, according to a Qunnipiac poll released this week — including 59% of Republicans who responded to the poll. Ninety-two percent of poll respondents regardless of political party favor background checks for all gun buyers. There is division on an assault weapon ban — 50% supported such a measure while 45% oppose it. Also of note, when Americans were asked about the main cause of mass shootings, 40% pinpointed mental health issues and 19% said the availability of guns.

Jacobs’ fall was shocking, but taken in context it shouldn’t be surprising. He forgot mental health, which is half of the gun violence equation, during his remarks.

As we assess a path forward following a particularly sorrowful month, we must look at the gun violence problem holistically rather than simply as a matter of guns. We may get a lot further that way.

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