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Democratic Candidates Aren’t Afraid of Gun Control Anymore. Will It Matter?

Listen to Episode 8 of "Uncommitted: Iowa 2020" to hear how Democratic candidates are talking about gun control in a way they never have before.

by Jen Kinney
Jan 14 2020, 4:04pm

Listen to the teaser below and subscribe here on Spotify for the full episode of "Uncommitted: Iowa 2020," a new podcast from VICE News.

MUSCATINE, Iowa — All his life, Daniel Nietzel has voted Republican. Then, the former social studies and math teacher from Muscatine invented a device that keeps classroom doors closed during school shootings. After every mass shooting, Neitzel’s phone rings and sales spike.

One teacher called Nietzel in the middle of a shooting, trying to buy his device. “I mean, I felt very unqualified too at the time,” Nietzel told VICE News reporter Jen Kinney. “Like last week, I was a social studies teacher. Like now, I'm looked at as a school safety expert.”

The school shootings crisis has changed Nietzel — and his politics. He wants to vote someone into office who's going to do something about gun violence. And that means, for the first time, he might vote for a Democrat for president.

“If you would’ve asked me that four years ago, five years ago, I would have said there's not a chance in hell,” Nietzel told VICE News.

We’re taking on guns and politics in episode 8 of the VICE News podcast “Uncommitted: Iowa 2020,” hosted by Emmy award-winning correspondent Antonia Hylton, which drops Tuesdays on Spotify.

For decades, Republicans have run on their NRA report cards, while Democrats have largely sought to avoid taking a firm stand on gun regulation.

But not in 2020. Young activists and hundreds of mass shootings have pushed gun reform into the center of the political conversation. Democrats are calling for gun control proposals that would have been political suicide even a few years ago — buyback programs, gun licensing, and red flag laws. Whoever gets the Democratic nomination is going to have the most pro-gun-reform platform in modern times.

And candidates are hoping their plans don’t just play well with Democratic voters in the primary, but that they can sway voters like Nietzel in the general election. But it’s not yet clear how big a political risk that is.

Listen to the Episode 8 teaser and subscribe here on Spotify now.

You can catch Uncommitted: Iowa 2020 Podcast on Spotify every Tuesday. And sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Cover: Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Everytown For Gun Safety "Presidential Gun Sense" Forum at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on August 10, 2019. (Sipa USA via AP/Jason Bergman)

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