New York Magazine has an article which talks about how a lot of leaders of the marriage equality movement are now turning their sights to gun control, thinking the same tactics that got such a drastic change in public opinion will have the same effect on people’s attitudes towards guns. I think this is wishful and misguided thinking.
But guns have a special salience now, after Newtown, after South Carolina, and veterans of the marriage movement see familiar terrain in guns — so familiar that they feel optimistic about being able to guide Americans to a similarly radical culture shift down the line.
The reason that culture shift happened so quickly is because the movement played off American’s sense of fairness. On the gun issue, that isn’t going to play. It’s a pure policy issue. If anything, gun owners can play to American’s sense of fairness to argue the gun control movement wishes to treat us unfairly.
Let us also not forget that the gay marriage issue also had a very significant generation gap. The issue won as much because it’s opponents were dying off, and the proponents were all young and energetic, as much as they changed minds. There isn’t any such generational gap on the gun issue. Young people tend not to be gun owners, but that probably has a lot to do with guns being expensive, and young people facing European levels of structural unemployment.
The gay marriage issue also had a large and passionate grassroots. Not only was their community fully invested in the issue, they got their friends and family invested too. They talked to people, and changed minds. Who does that sound more like to you? The answer is not the anti-gun movement. If the anti-gun movement had a patron saint, it would be Gladys Kravitz.
The article goes on to recite left-wing myth after left-wing myth about the gun rights movement.
- “Today, fewer households own guns than ever before”
- “gun lobby itself, which profits, obviously, by peddling fear.”
- “able to mobilize a small but zealous and loyal group of voters”
- “especially on background checks, a gun-protection measure which 92 percent of Americans”
First, he’s taking advice from Dan Gross, who runs the Brady Campaign, a group that post-Newtown basically surrendered control of the movement to Mike Bloomberg because of their history of ineffectiveness. The Brady Campaign had not passed any gun control legislation of any real significance since 1994. Dan Gross lives in la la land. Everyone knows it. I’m sure even Bloomberg and Feinblatt would agree.
These people still think “assault weapons” are achievable as an issue. That boat has sailed. Last I checked they were barely holding on to a majority on that issue, and that’s with loaded polling questions. They are still parroting 92% when they know damned well in a very blue state they only got 60% yes. The article ends by speaking of a value that is just fundamentally at odds with how Americans think about personal security.
In this redefining, he hopes to make a point. “Protection” isn’t an individual matter (a canard in any case, because having a gun in the house makes you exponentially less safe) in which individual patriarchs safeguard individual offspring. “Protection” is a communitarian thing, in which the safety of one’s own children depends on the safe habits of one’s neighbors.
This is a very European attitude, and one that is completely foreign to the American Experience, which has a tradition of armed, personal defense. This message will play very well with European Immigrants. It’s going to fall flat with Americans, even most liberal Americans. How are these people thinking they are going to make any difference at all when they don’t even understand the fight or who they are fighting?