QUAKERTOWN, Pa. — In the emotional politics of gun control, the suburbs seem to be emerging as a new sphere of influence.
The Senate’s defeat last week of firearms restrictions underscored the nation’s shifting demographics and a pronounced divide on the gun issue between Americans in rural areas and residents of suburban enclaves, like Quakertown, outside Philadelphia.
Packed with married women and political independents, vote-rich communities like these are starting — in the wake of a string of shooting massacres — to act more like urban centers that long have been concerned with the threat of local gun violence and have favored stricter laws.
Like most Pennsylvania voters, Lisa Inglis, 43, a stay-at-home mom of two from the Philadelphia suburbs, is a supporter of expanded checks of gun buyers, part of the legislation defeated last week. She said she was very disappointed by the Senate action, though she also questioned whether such measures would prevent many crimes.
“The reality hits you that nobody can keep anybody safe,” said Inglis.
Four Republicans backed the proposal, including three — Sens. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, Mark Kirk of Illinois and John McCain of Arizona — where suburbs play a strong role in their home states’ politics.
An Associated Press-GfK poll this month found that 52 percent of people living in suburban areas supported stricter gun laws compared with 41 percent rural residents.
The poll found that 58 percent of women favored stricter gun laws, compared with 41 percent of men.