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.