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Why We Need to Make More Progress Behind the Lines

Because the political elites in Chicago should have to read stories like this. They need to read stories like this:

Vernon has been a firearm owner and activist for decades, but he doesn’t fit the stereotype of a gun nut. He’s a middle-class African-American who lives on Chicago’s south side. A former university administrator, he’s studied civil rights history for decades. A framed photo of Malcolm X hangs in the living room of his modest home. He voted against Mitt Romney in the last presidential election—though he can’t quite bring himself to admit that he cast a ballot for President Obama.

Vernon is also a member of the NRA, mostly because the organization offers top-notch training and certification courses used by federal law enforcement agencies. But he admits to some mixed feelings. “The only thing we agreed on was guns,” he says of the NRA. On the issue of gun-ownership rights, “I’m on the same side as a lot of people who are very conservative and certainly would be considered right of center.”

There’s really nothing remarkable about the firing line pictured in the article, as they look like most gun folk to me, save their color of skin not fitting the typical progressive narrative of rural, fat, middle-aged white guys

This is everyone’s right. It belongs to all of us. That has to be our motivating force in moving the ball forward. The Second Amendment should be no different in Chicago than Cheyenne, and the court wins have succeeded in making Chicago a little more like Cheyenne. We haven’t gone far enough, but just four years ago, Chicago progressives could rest happy in their own insulated media bubble, and never have to read articles like this that challenged their preconceived notions. The fact that they now do is what I call progress!

32 Responses to “Why We Need to Make More Progress Behind the Lines”

  1. The Jack says:

    There’s a reason Chicago has tried to ban handgun ownership, gun shops and ranges, in their city.

  2. JC_VA says:

    This is why you can’t abandon those states. Wyoming is not where it’s at. The Blue States are the battleground. And if we can keep winning in THOSE places instead of resting on our asses in the Red States, we’ll win.

    ALL of our recent court victories have been in Blue States. Remember that. The recent Connecticut decision could very well be the one that ends their attempts to ban MSRs, IF we don’t back down, and keep pushing it all the way.

    • Alpheus says:

      I’m going to disagree, however mildly. Here in Utah, we lost the chance to have Constitutional Carry–it just barely made it through the State Senate, and then was vetoed by the Governor. I’m deeply ashamed of my Government for that.

      In neighboring Colorado, we lost ground, and we need to fight to regain it.

      We need to be vigilant, and push for more firearms freedom /wherever/ the opportunity presents itself, and /always/ be on guard, for even “safe” states like Colorado aren’t always as safe as we think they are.

      I have to say mild disagreement, though, because I have the feeling that once we get a generation or two of shall-issue in New York, Illinois, California and Washington, D.C., I have the sense that the war is over, and everything else is just skirmishes. We need to push everywhere, but the Blue States are the bunkers of the Enemy.

  3. Nick L. EMT-P says:

    “Vernon is also a member of the NRA, mostly because the organization offers top-notch training and certification courses used by federal law enforcement agencies. But he admits to some mixed feelings. “The only thing we agreed on was guns,” he says of the NRA. On the issue of gun-ownership rights, “I’m on the same side as a lot of people who are very conservative and certainly would be considered right of center.”

    I must be very tired. Can someone please explain this paragraph? Mixed feelings but he’s right of center? I don’t get it.

    • Kirk Parker says:

      Sure:

      “I’m on the same side [of the gun question] as lots of people (who are very conservative and who would certainly be considered right of center[unlike me].)”

    • Kirk Parker says:

      Comparable to the thing I heard said/saw written by more than one person:

      “My shooting acquaintences are a lot less bothered by the fact that I’m gay, than my fellow gays are by the fact that I’m a shooter.”

      • JC_VA says:

        Which can be a big advantage for us as evangelizers of this activity. Accepting all comers can be a big selling point for us, but we need to market better to those groups.

        We need to ensure we don’t succumb to the reflexive disdain that the antis do.

      • I had a conversation many years ago with a guy who was a high power competition shooter, and gay. He did not feel like he could be very open with either group about his other deviation.

        • HSR47 says:

          I’ve never really participated in high power shooting competitions, but it has always struck me as being the sport of an older demographic: It typically doesn’t incorporate movement, and the equipment tends to be expensive.

          Older shooters in turn tend to be more of a “gun culture 1.0” crowd, which tends to be less accepting of “alternative lifestyles.”

    • Sebastian says:

      I think it’s common for a lot of Democratic and otherwise liberal gun owners to be conflicted about the NRA.

      • SPQR says:

        Mostly because of media portrayals. But its not helped by people who demand the NRA take political positions outside of the firearms rights topic.

  4. chiefjaybob says:

    “‘The only thing we agreed on was guns,’ he says of the NRA.” I am continually mystified by people who say things like this (and this is not the first time I have read a similar quote). Can someone, anyone, please point out anyplace where the NRA promotes, advocates, pontificates, or shills for anything other than gun rights?

    • Zermoid says:

      Eddie Eagle program, which is about gun safety for kids, not directly about gun rights.

    • Andy B. says:

      I would submit that an organization becomes known by the company it keeps. Some of the NRA’s invited guest speakers at past NatCons HAVE NOT been notables in the gun rights movement, but were better known for their stridency on other issues; they clearly were invited as attractors for a certain ideology. And, board members like Ollie North and Ted Nugent probably did not receive an overwhelming vote just for their advocacy of gun rights.

      I would also point to NRA’s Hang’em High initiatives like CrimeStrike and Project Exile promotions. Neither have anything directly to do with gun rights.

      I will digress to add, that there are other gun rights organizations that seem to be able to find gun rights issues buried in almost any issue you can think of, so, promote those issues stridently. It could be argued they are actually shilling for other issues, simply by using their gun rights shtick for a front. I have observed, though it would be very difficult to prove, that their support for candidates and public personalities correlates more strongly with those people’s proven positions on social conservative issues, or on their religious affiliations, than on having done anything tangible for gun rights other than talk and posture. It is something we need to guard against evolving with the NRA.

    • Sebastian says:

      They don’t directly take on issues that aren’t guns, but a lot of their branding is right-of-center. I wouldn’t expect someone who’s a dedicated Democrat to be that comfortable at an NRA Annual Meeting, for instance. A lot of the invited speakers stray off the gun issue into other social conservative causes. One of my beefs with NRA is that they do brand themselves and thus gun rights as a right-of-center issue. I get that they have to “put on a show,” so to speak, that their members will be attracted to and come out for, but at some point that branding becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      • Andy B. says:

        I realize a lot has changed — including the NRA’s level of political activity, and my own general awareness of political nuances — but it seems to me that the NRA did not have a branding of being anything but a pro-gun organization, when I became a member almost exactly 50 years ago, or, until well into the 1970s or beyond. I’m not sure anyone could or did brand it as “right wing” much before the first time they endorsed a candidate for president, with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

        • The Jack says:

          Historically what effect was there on the decrease on pro-gun control forces in the GOP?

          If it recall properly the AWB in the mid 90’s had quite a bit of GOP support, and many “cross aisle” voting. And there’s that there’s still a fair bit of Gun Control GOP in New England.

          However, there’s been less and less gun control in the GOP. Both by primarying and by being beaten by Dems.

          Did that have an effect on NRA branding so to speak?

          • Sebastian says:

            It’s definitely had an effect. They took a lot of heat from members when rumors circulated they would endorse Harry Reid in the 2010 elections. The problem NRA has is that a lot of its members expect them to be generally conservative. They didn’t endorse Reid, and Reid has decidedly flipped on guns since.

            NRA did endorse a large number of Blue Dog Democrats in the 2010 elections, and most of them were defeated. That was a tremendous blow to NRA, and to gun rights within the Democratic Party. What we’ve seen since is largely the consequences of that. If NRA can’t demonstrate it can protect Democrats in tough races, the Democrats aren’t going to give too much of a shit about gun rights. Almost no politicians take their position on this issue (or any issue) out of a strong, personal belief about what’s right or wrong. In most cases, any issue is just another special interest they have to balance, and that balance is determined by how it helps or hurts them politically.

            • Andy B. says:

              “NRA did endorse a large number of Blue Dog Democrats in the 2010 elections, and most of them were defeated. That was a tremendous blow to NRA, and to gun rights within the Democratic Party.”

              I reflect that that is among the hazards of the games of political illusion we play. When it works to our advantage (e.g., pretending — and believing — we have more clout than we actually do) we love the game; when it backfires on us, we bitch about it. Without being more specific than I can be for right now, I wonder if an occasional infusion of reality and myth-shattering might not be a good thing in the long run.

              • Matthew Carberry says:

                The Blue Dog Dems lost in 2010 due to the Democratic Party being controlled by the “blame Bush and anyone conservative” wing at that time. That cost them support from wishy-washy “moderate” Dem voters. The remaining “conservative Dems” had already fled the party for the most part, or actively voted Republican. Given that, the NRA’s endorsements -couldn’t- have realistically saved anyone. There was no “myth” to break, without single or primary-issue gun rights voters left in any numbers in the Democratic party, having the support of the gun rights crowd carried no weight with their voter pool.

                It was/is the natural end-game of what Reagan supposedly commented on decades ago, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” (which was mirrored to the flip-side by Charlie Crist in 2012)

            • HSR47 says:

              “NRA did endorse a large number of Blue Dog Democrats in the 2010 elections, and most of them were defeated. That was a tremendous blow to NRA, and to gun rights within the Democratic Party. What we’ve seen since is largely the consequences of that. If NRA can’t demonstrate it can protect Democrats in tough races, the Democrats aren’t going to give too much of a shit about gun rights.”

              Along the lines of what MC alludes to in another fork of this comment chain, the problem is that the we in the pro-gun movement have largely learned to distrust representatives (especially Democrats) when they campaign as pro-gun.

              It would be a lot easier to support supposed “blue dog” Democrats if they were actually anything more than fair-weather friends (e.g. Joe Manchin).

              The reason why “pro-gun” Democrats have such a hard time winning is that the demographic that platform speaks to doesn’t trust them to live by it when it actually matters.

      • Go SEA says:

        I’m a dedicated Democrat and liberal who enjoys the annual conventions. The rally events are for other people, not for me, which is fine. (No one would expect every event to be suited for every convention attendee. In a three-day week-end packed with events, anyone could find something to enjoy and something to dislike. “something for everyone”)
        There are plenty of top Democrats closely associated with the correct side of gun rights, like Brian Schweitzer (of Montana).

      • Wow. I would have guessed that NRA’s leadership leans libertarian, not social conservative.

  5. HappyWarrior6 says:

    I’m a conservative (but not a “neo-con”) and I can understand what you are saying.

    It does seem bothersome when I tune into Cam & Company and Cam is talking to someone from an organization that has nothing to do with gun rights. I’ve heard guests on the show and issues discussed having to do with school choice, economics, urban poverty, foreign policy/entanglements, and other stuff that is generally the stuff that passes for “conservative talk radio” these days. It is a shame when I can point to direct examples of what we fear the most: that the NRA shills for Republicans.

    I don’t know that there will ever be an organization that we can rely on 100% to represent us as gun owners. There are no serious gun owner candidates who think past their own re-election bid, as Sebastian points out. I would like to be surprised, however. I do know that we have to play the long game, and I agree that our biggest gains that can be pointed out have happened in blue states.

    NRA’s advantage is also not 100% the NRA-ILA, either. Their contributions to the gun culture have helped immensely in a way that groups like GOA, NAGR, and SAF can’t even say they’ve done.

    • Sebastian says:

      Yeah…. that’s what I mean by branding. Technically Cam & Company is just a talk radio show sponsored by NRA, and not necessarily reflecting of the views of NRA, but it is branding NRA as generally conservative.

      That said, Cam has the same problem I do…. you still have to put on a show when the news cycle on guns is slow, as it has been since the media dropped the Sandy Hook tragedy like last year’s rotten potato.

    • Sebastian says:

      I also wonder if there has been some pressure from Sirius to not be so single-topic, because I do notice the show was a lot more singularly focused on guns when it was in the old time slot. But in the new time slot I can’t really listen very often, so my sample set is limited.

      I think the Sportsman’s Channel show is pretty successful, but since I’m a cable cutter I’ve never seen it. I’ve been supportive of Cam’s show because I think he’s better at reaching younger people than Wayne, and it’s helping NRA’s message reach people it otherwise would not.

    • HSR47 says:

      “I’ve heard guests on the show and issues discussed having to do with school choice, economics, urban poverty…”

      While I certainly see where you’re going with this, it’s important to understand that some or all of these ARE gun issues.

      School choice is a big one: Without getting too much into it, the status quo with regard to school choice (read: none) is largely responsible for the state of firearm-related education in schools. In short, it’s why shooting teams are a dying breed, and why even the Eddie Eagle program is taboo. While it is a big party talking point, the fact of the matter is that it has huge potential to change the nature of firearm-related education in schools for the better.

      Economics…. When the economy performs poorly, it results in people having less money to spend on hobbies/luxuries. In context, that means that people have less money to spend on firearms/accessories/ammunition/etc. Ditto for urban poverty.

      I hope you see where I’m going with this. I can certainly agree though, that all such tertiary discussions should be firmly rooted in how they relate to guns.

  6. Jacob says:

    I said before NRA needs to be involved in urban Democrat politics. This article shows they have a constituency there.

    • Sebastian says:

      This kind of thing wasn’t possible prior to McDonald. I ultimately agree with you, but without a gun culture, you’re just not going to get traction. The gun culture has to come first. Political change will follow.

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