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Wrong Strategies

Blake Zeff laments the fact that the gun control movement has no power, and offers this bit of advice to them:

For ideas on how to improve their effectiveness, gun control advocates could do worse than to study the playbook of the most effective liberal policy initiative in recent years: the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

I would turn around and argue the movement to legalize same-sex marriage has been an utter disaster for gays who want to marry. They’ve been screwed by the radicalness of their own leadership, who chose to try to force this through the judicial system, and then faced a backlash by a public that was overwhelmingly opposed to it. How many states now need a constitutional amendment passed in order to legalize same-sex marriage? Anyone with strategic sense, looking at the generation gap on this issue, would have decided the prudent course of action would be a legislative strategy in blue states, followed by purple, and then red, as the generation gap played out over time. As it is, it will take serious effort to undo the damage done by a panicked public, caused by the choice to try to enact gay marriage through judicial fiat. So I don’t think that the gay marriage movement is a model. It is a case of a bridge too far, too soon, and if we had that much damage to undo with gun rights, I wouldn’t feel very good about things right now.

Now, the overall gay rights movement, on the other hand, is a fairly effective model, but as  Joe Huffman also notes that this guy has it backwards, but it looks like Reasoned Discourse is in effect over there.

12 Responses to “Wrong Strategies”

  1. Andy B. says:

    I would only observe that activists on any issue want to be active and push initiatives in their own states, and often the most oppressed (e.g., gays in red states) feel most motivated to be active and to initiate something, anything. So, while tactically that may not be ideal, it is what is going to happen. It’s human nature.

    For another example, gun owners in Pennsylvania aren’t particularly oppressed, compared to many other states, so their activists aren’t very good at organizing or initiating anything. E.g., unlike many other states there are no viable, independent gun rights groups, other than motivated people who center on a couple websites. (That is not to imply that I endorse all that state-level groups do, in other states, it is simply to observe we have none here; and yes I am aware of the PA regional groups that style themselves as having statewide support, but are broadly unknown outside their regions.)

    But, the real issue is that usually tactics are a function of motivation. And I think Sun Tzu said, “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

    • Bitter says:

      “For another example, gun owners in Pennsylvania aren’t particularly oppressed, compared to many other states, so their activists aren’t very good at organizing or initiating anything. “

      Because the gun owners in New Jersey and Massachusetts are so successful…

      Sarcasm aside, I know people within the active communities within each of those states, and having lived and been active in the movement in one of them, I’m well aware of what an uphill battle it is, so I understand and support the method of baby steps in those states. However, the average gun owner there, isn’t any more motivated than the average gun owner here. Most of them would like to see things changed, but they don’t have the time or energy to talk to anyone about it or even think about it for more than a fleeting moment when they see a membership table set up at a gun show.

      • Jeff says:

        When did you leave MA? While you’re most likely still correct about the ‘average’ gun owner, I think the number of involved people is much higher now than it was. This is primarily due to the rise of the Northeastshooters.com online community. The recent GOAL BoD turnover and resultant house-cleaning (instigated via NES) can only accelerate the process.

        • Harold says:

          I don’t know about Bitter, but for me the overriding issue was jobs. Route 128 and general Boston area computer technology died a hard death after the Cold War (couldn’t compete with Silicon Valley for a variety of reasons, including California’s unique unenforceability of non-competes, although the web gave the area a second life) … plus I could see that the gun control regime was going to get a lot worse as the anti-“assault weapon” hysteria continued to grow.

          However, do you think GOAL and company, even after house cleaning, are going to be any more successful than they’ve been since things got so bad? We are after all talking about the only state that voted for McGovern, the margin of Reagan’s 1984 victory in the state was 2.79%, etc. etc.

          Are their any signs of hope? I know plenty of voters seem to be getting tired of Democratic party hacks (see Scott Brown’s victory), but that’s quite some distance from moving in a conservative direction (which elsewhere I’ve noted many did by moving themselves to New Hampshire), even if the country as a whole is improving in the area of guns. And than machine gun child death couldn’t have helped….

          • Jeff says:

            I should have quoted the part of the post I was responding to to make it more clear.

            I agree 100% with “I’m well aware of what an uphill battle it is, so I understand and support the method of baby steps in those states.”

            The part I was responding to was “However, the average gun owner there, isn’t any more motivated than the average gun owner here.” I agree that if you pick a gun owner at random, they’re more likely than not uninvolved. The point I was trying to make is that the number of gun owners who *are* involved is likely significantly higher now than it was when Bitter lived here. The improvements in how GOAL allocates its resources will likely accelerate the rate of that increase.

            Whether GOAL and co have any chance improving things through the legislative process is an open question. However, we can at least take heart in the fact that since the AWB extension in 2004, things haven’t gotten worse. Gov. Patrick has advocated a one gun a month bill, but it hasn’t gone anywhere in the legislature. There were various hearings after the unfortunate accident in Westfield, but nothing came of them. A shall issue bill recently made it further than ever before. It died short of even coming to a vote, but it made it out of the joint committee on public safety with a favorable report.

            Where things have already and are likely to continue to improve is through the federal courts. This effort has been led by Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A), another MA organization on friendly terms with GOAL. Back in March, a Massachusetts gun control law was overturned by the federal courts as unconstitutional. (I never get tired of saying that.) Legal permanent resident aliens are now treated the same as citizens with regard to guns. The suit challenging discretionary LTC issuance is working its way through the court system (currently pending a decision in the First Circuit Court of Appeals).

  2. Jacob says:

    I would add that proponents of gay marriage have an actual constituency, unlike the antis’ astroturf.

  3. “I would turn around and argue the movement to legalize same-sex marriage has been an utter disaster for gays who want to marry.”

    I have been haranguing my gay friends for a couple of years on this subject.

    I honestly don’t think that legalizing marriage is the point of the “gay rights” movement. In fact, I am pretty sure that if marriage was legalized everywhere by majority vote, it would be an utter disaster for the “gay rights leaders.”

    If gays were to allow the demographic trends to play out normally, they would slide into widespread public acceptance within 10 more years. There would be idiots and die hards, but we have those on every subject. The problem is that if gays were just another minority that no one took the time to worry about, their leaders would be out of a job.

    I think that they hatched a strategy. They said to themselves, “let’s be the most ignorant a-holes possible about this. Let’s try to force gay marriage through in the most offensive way possible. Instead of winning by votes, let’s try to push it through the liberal courts that all the conservatives hate anyway, and cause the biggest backlash we can possibly cause.”

    It all started with Gavin Newsome and his idiotic and unlawful issuing of marriage licenses to gay couples. As San Fran mayor, he was not worried about a challenge from the Republicans, but he was concerned that he might lose to the leftist challenger. This shored up his base, and caused everyone else to have screaming fits about it. After that all we heard was the march of anti-gay marriage amendments to prevent courts from ruling gay marriage legal on equal protection grounds.

    The whole thing pisses me off. There are two competing principles. First, democratic voting will eventually change the status quo. Second, we can’t permit activist judges to radically redefine society based upon their deliberate misreading of the Constitution.

    And the worst part of all of it is that both sides of the gay marriage argument are wrong. Both sides agree that the government has the power to define what is and is not a marriage. It must make the Statist scream with laughter when both sides of the argument are insisting that the state retain a power that it shouldn’t have gotten in the first place.

    • Wrong again. This all started, from a legal perspective, in 1993 in Hawaii, not 2004 when San Francisco illegally issued those marriage licenses.

      Baehr v. Miike went to the Hawaii Supreme Court and they decided in favor of the district court decision which called into question the exclusion of couples under the state constitution, when it got sent back down, there was a trial.

      DOMA was passed at the federal level the same year the Hawaii Supreme Court stated that the district court made the correct call under the state constitution, where the law purported to claim that it foreclosed FF&C challenges to state laws from out of state marriages (Section 2) and prohibited the federal government from recognizes those marriages (Section 3) if they were ever solemnized anywhere.

      Please know the full history of the issue before making commentary. This marriage thing has been going on since the early 1970’s.

      • Gray,
        I’m not talking about the push for marriage, that has certainly been going on longer. What I am talking about has been the public campaign to have anti-gay marriage amendments. For those of us who didn’t even think about the issue, it was the San Francisco mess that got our attention.

        And I am convinced that gay rights leaders are screwing over gays in America in order to keep gays from assimilating and ceasing to be some sort of political block.

  4. Stranger says:

    In talking to “gays,” a misnomer if there ever was one, there are several factors involved in the “gay marriage issue.” Not the least are the atheists, who are itching to “destroy religion” by forcing several major church pastors to refuse to “marry them.” With the secondary goal of making a profit, of course.

    With those goals in sight, the activists are not going to take the time necessary for things to settle. They are going to keep agitating, and I agree with Sean. Disaster in sight.

    While my crystal ball is still on the fritz, I think the ultimate result will be the end of “civil marriage” in any form whatsoever. Those who wish to have their union blessed by a priest will be free to do so, and the rest can do as they please, with whoever they please. That was the original system, in force for umpty thousands of years, and what was will be again.

    Which would not be the end of the world, since the state’s collecting a stiff tax to record a marriage is a relatively new thing.

    Stranger

    • Andy B. says:

      ‘Not the least are the atheists, who are itching to “destroy religion” by forcing several major church pastors to refuse to “marry them.” ‘

      First let me say I agree with your conclusion regarding where “marriage” should be headed.

      But — where are the examples of anyone forcing church pastors to marry them? I have not been aware of those incidents.

      I’m talking about major incidents, not a couple cranks walking in off the street and making demands.

      The reason I’m asking is, it seems to me the debate such as it is has never admitted either the desire or the possibility that clergymen be forced by anyone (except possibly their own church’s hierarchy?) to perform marriages for anyone at all.

    • In talking to “gays,” a misnomer if there ever was one, there are several factors involved in the “gay marriage issue.” Not the least are the atheists, who are itching to “destroy religion” by forcing several major church pastors to refuse to “marry them.” With the secondary goal of making a profit, of course.”

      In my dealing with hundreds, if not thousands of gay activists in this issue, not once have I heard the above specifically bolded. ever.

      Churches themselves cannot be forced to marry interracial couples, to marry inter-denominationally, to marry civil divorcees, or any others kinds of combination. This has been litigated over & over again, and time & again, the courts have sided with the churches on this issue. 1st amendment is strong in that regard.

      Also, every atheist I know despise the idea of marrying in a “church”. They want a civil ceremony at the courthouse, and they tend to write their own vows for it too.

      It’s total non-sense, and even sounds made up entirely. I can go on an anecdote hunt all day to find the truth of the matter, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s made up BS.

      Any staff member of an legitimate, mainstream, and recognized gay rights organization that were to express the opinion of forcing priests to marry against their religion in any way would be immediately expelled from the organization and unceremoniously walked out the door.

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