Gun legislation—a back-burner issue recently for reasons of both priorities and politics—will return to Washington shortly, in the wake of the brutal assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six others dead. Rep. Peter King, a Republican, would like to ban citizens from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of a federal official. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, a Democrat, has proposed legislation banning the type of high-capacity ammunition clip used in the Tucson attack.
Calls to divorce politics from this tragedy have been sounded from right and left, yet there is little that is apolitical about the gun issue. As the constitutional right to bear arms suggests, the gun control debate can be nothing but politically motivated.
So as the political battle lines form again, who on Capitol Hill can be counted on to champion that cause of more gun control, and who is steadfast in further loosening regulation? The Daily Beast combined scores from the Gun Owners of America, which is against gun regulation and grades politicians on an A to F scale, and from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which scores politicians based on the percentage of time they vote in line with the Brady Campaign’s mission. Note that the Brady Campaign has not scored recently elected politicians, since they have yet to vote on gun-related legislation. To make the ranking more granular, we broke ties by the number of times each politician is in conjunction with guns or gun control in media outlets, retrieved via Nexis—a measure of their willingness to talk about gun control publicly, and of the public perception of their proximity to the gun control issue.