That longtime party dilemma came into sharp focus after Democrat Al Gore, a supporter of gun controls, lost the key states of Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia en route to his narrow defeat in the 2000 presidential election. Some Democrats believe Gore's stance on guns was to blame.
Democrats became even more reticent after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made improving security a national priority.
When Republican pollster David Winston asked Americans about plans to allow pilots to carry guns in the cockpit, he found that married women with children — traditionally the strongest voices favoring gun control — were among the biggest supporters.
"The soccer mom who wants to gets guns off the playgrounds through gun control is the same mom who wants pilots to be armed " he said. "The dynamic has changed. . . . It's putting it in the context of safety."