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Will the GOP Cave on Gun Rights?

So ponders Glenn Reynolds, and it’s something that’s been on all our minds, I think. Michael Walsh thinks that it’s a hill to fight on, rather than a desk to die under. It was always going to be a difficult proposition, especially since many people normally with us, in the days following Sandy Hook, started lecturing gun owners how we were just going to have to cave on this magazine thing. Like hell we need to.

So why is it that the GOP, who are willing to sacrifice whole election cycles to talk about “legitimate rape,” and espousing absolutist views on abortion that are far outside the mainstream, can’t seem to bring themselves to stand by us when the going gets tough? I mean, we don’t have debates within the GOP that an abortion up to 26 weeks ought to be legal and protection, but at 27 weeks, well, that’s just cold blooded infanticide. But yet you get discussion that 10 rounds is enough for anyone to protect themselves, and 11 rounds is for nothing more than mass murder. They are willing to take the absolutist position, at the cost of disastrous election outcomes, for anti-abortion advocates, but not for us. Why?

I think the problem for our movement is that gun owners, in general, seem to be a lot better at tearing things down rather than building them up, and you need to be able to do both to be successful in politics. Once you find yourself in a race to unseat a politician who turned on you, you’ve already kind of lost, and if you fail, you’ve definitely lost. It’s far better to get someone in office and keep them on your side. In the 2008 and 2010 elections, when we were working phone banks, were the only ones in the game who were there specifically representing the gun issue. Values voters, even in this area, are ubiquitous among the volunteers we talked to on breaks. If you want to know why politicians go to the mat for these people and leave us hanging under the sword of damocles when the going gets tough, this is why. Values voters are everywhere at election time, and even in this area seem to represent the core volunteers on campaigns that are either actively sympathetic, or who have indicated they will be sympathetic. Gun owners are numerous, and highly motivated by fear and anger, which makes us very effective at negative reinforcement. We suck at positive reinforcement, and unfortunately, positive reinforcement is probably just as important, if not more important.

11 Responses to “Will the GOP Cave on Gun Rights?”

  1. Harold says:

    So why is it that the GOP, who are willing to sacrifice whole election cycles to talk about “legitimate rape,” and espousing absolutist views on abortion that are far outside the mainstream….

    Citation please?

    E.g. could the GOP have run any faster from Todd Akin than they did?

    • Nick Pacific says:

      While they condemned Akin, Republicans continued the party line that rape was not a legitimate grounds for abortion. A major example would be Indiana’s Senate Candidate Murdock.

      Saying the same thing over and over again in different words still rings the same in voters ears.

      • Harold says:

        If you’re going to paint the party in such a broad brush, you’re going to have to cite more than 1 or 2 losing Senatorial candidates.

        E.g. the 2012 party platform has no such extremes, and of course Sebastian’s quantitative example of N weeks is not used, the threshold is is the qualitative “unborn children who are capable of feeling pain”.

        The guy who ended up being the party’s 2012 leader had no such extreme positions, however “severe” a conservative he claimed to be, it’s the usual no support except in the case of “rape [or] incest or when the procedure is necessary to protect the life of a mother”.

        I’m beginning to wonder if many RKBA activists views of social conservatives are any less inaccurate or malevolent than the gun grabber’s views of us. Since social conservatives are generically pro-RKBA, that strikes me as unwise.

        Sebastian previously crowed about how a social conservative and RKBA activist’s political activity about the former was impacting the latter (through illegitimate tactics of our adversaries). Let’s turn it around: what are RKBA activists who trash social conservatives gaining for the RKBA by those actions? It’s just more labeling of one group as “the other”, and alienating them to no good external purpose.

        Of course, maybe I just think this way because a) I grew up around social conservatives (raised Catholic in a very Pentecostal area) and noted they weren’t terrible people, and b) I rank the RKBA so high only existential threats go above it. And per a) social conservatives aren’t that, even ignoring how little real power they have.

    • Sebastian says:

      To some degree I’m not really talking on the level of a national party. I doubt that was the first time Todd Aiken had ever pontificated on human reproduction or rape. It was the first time he ever learned there were severe consequences. Why is that? I would wager it’s because that kind of rhetoric found a home among a lot of his local volunteers and activists.

      • Harold says:

        Could be, although he was on the national stage as a US House Representative for a dozen years.

  2. Andy B. says:

    I’m sure I became tiresome with saying it years ago, but gun owners long ago established themselves as a constituency that would give away their votes for nothing more than pro-gun rhetoric, if you consider “enforce existing laws”[that we fought like hell, but in vain] to be “pro-gun.” Also, we collectively seem to be less attentive, more forgetful, and arguably less analytical of how legislators vote than most other constituencies, unless the legislators are high-profile personalities like Pelosi who serves as boogeymen-cum-fundraisers. Thus, cover is easily provided by our “leadership” for legislators with crappy records, and most of us fall for it. We look at the orange card we get in the mail and seldom question it.

    And, for example, how many gun owners have ever noticed that outfits like GOA will promote as their darlings, legislators who have much stronger records on things like abortion and immigration, than they do on gun rights? Shouldn’t we expect that to be reversed, with a “single-issue” RKBA outfit?

    It all adds up to, that for all our bluster and bravado, we are the most easily predictable (and therefor most discountable) GOP constituency. I can hear “Where else are they going to go?” echoing in the halls of our capitols right now.

    • Harold says:

      for example, how many gun owners have ever noticed that outfits like GOA will promote as their darlings, legislators who have much stronger records on things like abortion and immigration, than they do on gun rights?

      Probably not very many, because the GOA has so little reach and influence ^_^.

      (At least compared to the NRA; more than one order of magnitude less in raw numbers? In nation influence, one Piers Morgan interview vs. e.g. altering the direction of the national “conversation” in the very first move (the presser the week after the shooting)?)

  3. HappyWarrior6 says:

    I think the threat of a GOP cave on this is way overblown. A month ago I’d have been more fearful.

    Something is getting through to them and I don’t know what. I heard th Cam interview with Sen. Grassley and the man (a moderate in many senses of the word) clearly does not think a gun control bill has any way of passing the senate, nor does it sound like he supports one.

    Mitch McConnell appears to be going “balls to the wall” on the issue due to a fierce primary race quite possibly and he’s the highest ranking GOP senator.

    We shouldn’t grow apathetic but I feel at this point the only way the GOP will cave is of we let them and promise forgiveness. No forgiveness on this one, take no prisoners. They seem to get it.

    The momentum has worn down quicker than the gun control people wish.

    Keep writing and calling. When I was in Sen. Toomey’s senate office every other call to his office was on the gun issue. The rank and file anti-gun construents are definitely not putting that much effort in.

  4. My biggest concern is that this tends to be an urban/rural issue. Urban GOP reps, or GOP reps from very urban states, tend to be ambivalent if not hostile to the RKBA.

    Some rural dems are with us, like Senator Begich from Alaska. That is a Good Thing. However, it seems like the Democrats are willing to put their screws to the surviving blue dogs on the issue more than the GOP is willing to push anything.

    For example, we had years of GOP dominance in the Bush era. What did we get out of that at the national level? Not much! In fact, GW Bush, a social conservative from a deep red gun loving state, said he’d sign another AWB!

    I think we get better court picks out of the GOP but I don’t see much leadership from them on the issue.

    Finally, the whole “GOP Tough on Crime!” nonsense has to fricking stop. The NY GOP crowed that the “tough criminal penalties” in SAFE act were a victory for gun owners. Um, no. Turning defiance of registration into a serious felony is not a good thing. If the GOP were serious about protecting the RKBA they’d go the other way and make possession of a standard cap mag a $10 fine, not a felony.

    So, in short — I’m not going to take bets on the GOP’s performance on this. I don’t want to count on it.

  5. wasntme says:

    I see the urban rural thing happening too. Before too long the people in the cities will be making the laws for the entire country. They will get their way eventually. We should split the country now while there is something left to save. Or maybe we should have a vote to kick NY, CA and IL out since they evidently don’t want to follow the Constitution.

    • Andy B. says:

      I endorse the spirit of what you’re saying, but recognize that there would be severe economic dislocations.

      As much as we may dislike the (urban) cultures of NY, CA, and IL, those states are net “givers” into the federal system, paying more into the federal government than they get back. They would profit considerably by leaving the union, while most of the “red states” would find themselves with big deficits.

      Some old data that I reviewed recently showed that 17 states — most of them “blue” — carry the rest of the country, economically speaking. That’s not a happy situation for any of the others that might be thinking independence. Of course, maybe it would be worth the price, but, getting there requires awareness of the hard facts.

      (I have relatives who were participants in the independence movement of a former Soviet republic, and their history of hardships is worthy of study.)

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