Forbes outlines the five reasons the NRA won the recent gun control debate. I think it’s excellent, and well worth reading:
I’m going to share with you 5 reasons why the NRA won, and they have nothing to do with the often reported reasons like their PAC funds, their ability to turn out pro-gun voters in every legislative district, and the abundance of their skilled in-house and external lobbyists, although those are all true.
They simply execute the basics extremely well. As NRA volunteer Robert in Arizona told his fellow members about the basics, “Thanks for emailing your U.S. Senator, but you have to also write a letter or send a hand written postcard. No one ever tripped on a bag of email.” The good news is the tactics the NRA employed that no one is talking about are things that you can implement in your next persuasion battle. In addition, there were some mistakes made by gun control advocates that unwittingly aided the NRA.
I think she mostly gets it right, and it’s definitely one of the most serious looks at the dynamics of the pro-gun side of the issue I’ve seen from the traditional media in this late struggle.
One thing I think Ms. Showalter might discount a bit in her piece is that quite a bit of the grassroots power in gun rights comes through spontaneous and informal organizing, which makes me wonder whether she’s ever read Brian Anse Patrick’s The Rise of the Anti-Media. Patrick argues our success largely driven by the fact that we’ve constructed our own “horizontal interpretive communities.” I think that ought to be required reading for anyone trying to understand this issue.
One of the biggest mistakes the anti-gun crowd makes is to fail to understand their enemy. NRA is a manifestation of the gun rights movement, the gun rights movement was not created by the NRA. If the anti-gun folks could wish NRA out of existence tomorrow, we would quite quickly create an alternative. I believe the role the NRA plays, and has played in the gun rights movement has been supremely important, even if they haven’t always gotten everything right all the time.
I found this article a bit amusing, because I usually tend to think NRA as a whole, by which I mean to include its members and not merely leadership, is firing on maybe 5 out of 8 cylinders on a good day, though since Obama has started this latest push, I’d say we’ve been maybe 6 out of 8 in terms of our game. There’s still room for improvement. But many of our opponents really can’t grasp the depth of this issue; they think the NRA is the tip of the spear, when it many ways, it’s really the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes I wonder if the reason they think of gun rights as a spear, rather than an iceberg, is that in their more honest moments, they might wonder whether they are passengers on a political Titanic.