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Another Strategy From Gun Control 2.0 Which Worries Me

The other side is prepping the ground to try to expand the category of prohibited person. This is why I don’t lightly dismiss Gun Control 2.0 — prohibited persons is a topic I’ve wondered why they didn’t push for years, especially after having success even in a GOP Congress in the late 1990s on the topic of domestic abusers.

Who wants to stand up for the rights of wife beaters, stalkers, brawlers, drunks, or other low lifes? Defending against this kind of attack requires persuading people think about big picture things. Unintended consequences are not typically a concern for people who don’t think much past “something must be done!” It takes a deeper understanding that most people simply aren’t willing to take the time to develop. In this sound bite world, dominated by low information voters, this is a topic our opponents have a natural advantage.

In the early 2000s, I thought the Internet was going to make more people enlightened. As anyone who has ever spent any time on Facebook, or read comment sections on YouTube videos can tell you, that’s just not going to be the case. The left is now far better at reaching LIVs via the Internet than we are by far. The right dominated the early blogosphere, but the left does social media much better than we do. Conservatives put all their faith in money changers who preach to the choir, rather than investing energy in activism that was highly effective at reaching and persuading people who had barely any education on conservative ideas.

The reason we gun folks are better off relatively from the conservative movement is that we never quite drank the same kool aid. Granted, the fact that our hobby is fun and doesn’t take a deep understanding of any particular philosophy is a great asset. I think we should play to our strengths. Our best bet is to continue to be evangelists for the shooting sports and armed self-defense to anyone who shows even a hint of an open mind.

Moms Demand (Topless) Action?

Go forth and be horrified (NSFA – Not Safe for Anywhere). Yes, Moms Demand members went to protest the long-gun OCing fools in Texas by being even bigger fools. I have to hand it to John Richardson, who I just noticed wins the Internets for selecting a much much better headline than I did for this story.

Now, I’m pretty sure that this was not an officially sanctioned MDA/Everytown event. The article notes that the topless protesters only mentioned MDA. But it shows the problem the gun control movement is going to run into in trying to build a grassroots movement: most of us are involved in this because we have our rights and/or a hobby to protect. That means there are people involved who aren’t lunatics. There are people that certainly fit that bill on our side, but this movement succeeds because it’s made up of many more people who aren’t. Gun control groups have always had difficulty building the same kind of enthusiastic grassroots, and what grassroots they did have tended to be enthusiastic whack jobs. I’m seeing evidence that’s the case for MDA too, and that’s a good sign.

Anti-Gun Hate Files: First Edition

News is kind of slow, so I figure I should point out instances where our opponents display all the seething mouth foaming they accuse us of, and let their extremism show.

From eduardo16, on the comments on this news piece:

This is an insult to Niles progressive community. The Mayor and trustees are scared and afraid of the gun lobby lawsuits and ignored the popular clamor to stop guns in Niles. They caved in to the gun lobby and showed zero leadership. The American society needs to be disarmed, secularized and educated otherwise it will continue becoming an affluent version of the Taliban.

Disarmed, stripped of religion and re-educated? That sounds familiar. Yes, congratulations Eduardo, people like you are the reason I own guns, and advocate others do the same! You’re dangerous, and your ideas are dangerous. They lead to dark places. I don’t intend to go with you.

Here’s a comment by hughjames46:

Who would want this filth in their community? It’s a dirty, loud business. Not to mention quite ridiculous, grown people knocking off paper targets and paying for the privilege and then getting all excited about it. (You have to admit they do seem sexually repressed.)

These stores are no better than adult book stores. Their clientele is likely to be lower class and no better than drug addicts. Gun nuts need a fix and these stores are like having a pusher right on the corner.

Sometimes you have to wonder if some of these comments aren’t trolls. But to be fair, I’ve seen hate and pearl clutching of this magnitude coming from the other side before. This mentality blows my mind. I don’t really get the point of soccer either, grown adults kicking a ball around a field and hardly scoring, but that doesn’t mean I think no one ought to enjoy it.

Pearl Clutchers Defeated in Niles Gun Shop Battle

Don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t after your guns. That was a recent theme Joe Huffman was pushing on his blog. You can see the collected evidence here, here, here, and here. I suspect one could make a successful niche blog out of a feature like this. To show that even Shannon Watts group is, in fact, an extremist group dressed in the disguise of reasonableness, last week John Richardson raised the alarm that the Mom’s Demand Action was busy trying to prevent a shooting range from opening in the Chicagoland area. This place is to be called Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy. Sounds like a den of criminals to me! I say “is to be called,” because the anti-gunners were defeated in their efforts to stop the range from being built. They got a whopping one vote in their favor on the Niles City Council.

When they get to the point where they are trying to prevent ordinary Americans from engaging in recreational shooting, or having a clean and safe environment to learn owning, shooting, and carrying a gun safely, they’re not operating in the realm most Americans would consider reasonable. These people are extremists. They are as kooky as the lunatics carrying AR-15s into Target, just approaching it from the other side of the issue. You can see their extremism on display in the comments to this article. Who is Christine Fenno? Why, she’s a professional extremist with Moms Demand. No amateur extremism going on there.

Joe is right. Don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t after your guns. At the very least, they are singularly unconcerned with actual gun safety. In order to teach people gun safety, we need ranges and instructors. Moms Demand is against ranges and instructors. What does that tell you? We should celebrate that they’ve lost this fight in Niles. We are bringing a safe and fun gun culture back to the places where they thought they had destroyed it for good. We will persevere, until we have places like “Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy” popping up in New York City, San Francisco, and all manner of places that will make the Christine Fennos of the world clutch their pearls. One way or another, they will have to deal with us as friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans, no longer able to dismiss us as the caricatures erected in their own prejudiced minds.

Gun Control Puritans not Keen on First Amendment Either

Rep. Robin Kelly, a freshman Democrat in the House, is proposing a sweeping infringement on the First Amendment rights of gun owners. The bill would essentially ban any marketing material designed for children. NRA youth days would be banned. It might even become illegal to advertise a club’s Junior Shooter’s program. From the bill:

(a) CONDUCT PROHIBITED. —Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall promulgate rules in accordance with section 553 of title 5, United States Code, to prohibit any person from marketing firearms to children. Such rules shall include the following:

(1) A prohibition on the use of cartoon characters to promote firearms and firearm products.
(2) A prohibition on firearm brand name merchandise marketed for children (such as hats, t-shirts, and stuffed animals).
(3) A prohibition on the use of firearm marketing campaigns with the specific intent to appeal to children.
(4) A prohibition on the manufacturing of a gun with colors or designs that are specifically designed with the purpose to appeal to children.
(5) A prohibition on the manufacturing of a gun intended for use by children that does not clearly and conspicuously note the risk posed by the firearm by labeling somewhere visible on the firearm any of the following:

(A) “Real gun, not a toy.”.
(B) “Actual firearm the use of which may result in death or serious bodily injury.”.
(C) “Dangerous weapon.”
(D) Other similar language determined by the Federal Trade Commission.

Even though commercial speech is generally permitted greater restriction than non-commercial speech, I’m fairly certain this would be unconstitutionally over broad. Unfortunately, we set this precent when we allowed tobacco producers to be thrown under the bus, and our opponents have long tried to get the gun industry treated similarly to the tobacco industry, despite studies that have shown that learning the shooting sports are very beneficial to children.

These people are modern day puritans.

The Importance and Dangers of “Othering” for Our Opponents

Image Courtesy of Mimi and Eunice

Image Courtesy of Mimi and Eunice

I had originally wanted to get this into yesterday’s post, but I couldn’t make it work without descending into “let me ramble on semi-coherently about yet another thing.” That’s a blogging style that I’ll leave to the resident expert, Brady Board Member Joan Peterson. In any kind of political fight you’re usually going to see both sides engaging in “othering,” namely setting your opponents outside the class of reasonable people, and often, even outside the class of people.

Most of us find it highly insulting, and I’m certainly no exception. I don’t like being compared to an unthinking animal, to the bottom rungs of society, or the lowest of the low any more than other people do. I don’t particularly appreciate seeing my liberty interested boiled down to some faceless “corporate gun lobby,” nor do I like seeing my views misrepresented as supporting “deep pocketed gun manufacturers,” or “merchants of death.”

But there’s an important strategic reason that they engage in this, and that’s because, “Hey, let’s go take away something important and meaningful from your friends, family and neighbors,” doesn’t have quite the same motivational ring as, “Let’s go stick it to those dumb, ignorant, stooges of the merchants of death!” That’s the first strategic goal of othering; people need an enemy and villain. Your friends, family and neighbors don’t make great enemies and villains unless you’re demented. So you have to be convinced that “those people” aren’t any of those things. For us, Bloomberg makes a great villain. He others himself. How many of us have megalomaniacal billionaires as friends, family or neighbors? No one? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

But there is a second prong to othering, one that can be introduced through this article by Tony Canales that speaks of liberal gun owners:

Writer Christopher Ketcham essentially comes out of the gun-ban closet and admits, openly, that as a Way-Lefty he and a number of his friends still like their guns. Furthermore, the reasons to have firearms  essentially parallel the very rationale of the Founding Fathers, that being of the need for the average citizen to oppose governmental tyranny as well as having the ability to defend oneself when being confronted by criminals and wildlife bent on harm.

The other purpose of it is to silence those people on your own side of the cultural divide for fear that they will be likewise othered into the negative cultural stereotype. In short, othering helps keep liberal and moderate gun owner’s mouths shut, and prevents them from speaking out. Anything we on our side do that makes people feel uncomfortable about joining us (I don’t know, like carrying AR-15s to Chilis at the low ready) only helps the other side other us.

But there is a downside to othering for our opponents: the crap they say about us is highly antagonistic to ordinary gun owners. Their othering can be a powerful means to bring more people into political engagement with the gun rights issue. When they accuse NRA of being “the corporate gun lobby,” it might be laughably false, but most gun owners aren’t NRA members. When they mention that gun owners only live in places that don’t have roads, are stupid for owning guns, and presumably also lack proper dental care, that insults about 80 million Americans, which is well more than half of the electorate if they all voted. Our opponents have a habit, going back many years, of taking things too far, of overreaching, and losing. What I worry about is seeing the same thing on my side of the issue.

So “othering” is a tactic that pretty much everyone uses in political battles. It’s distasteful, but it’s reality. But one can take it too far, and fortunately for us, our opponents do a lot of the hard work for us when it comes to bringing more people into the issue. I think it’s wise to keep their folly in mind when we look at our own side’s behavior.

Gun Control 2.0

In our community, there’s a lot of talk about Gun Culture 1.0, representing the more traditional shooting sports culture, based around traditional shooting sports like hunting, shotgun sports, bullseye shooting, etc, and Gun Culture 2.0 which revolves around gun culture based on self-defense. As the argument for this division goes, Gun Culture 2.0 is more evangelic and politically engaged with the issue, having more dog in the fight than just their hobby. Gun Culture 1.0 was more passive, sometimes willing to defend itself when attacked, but reluctant to rock the boat and challenge the status quo, as long as their sports weren’t directly threatened.

I don’t think we should make the mistake of presuming our opponents are obstinate about change, or are somehow incapable of reinventing themselves. I propose what we’ve been witnessing, since Bloomberg’s outfit changed its moniker and subsumed Shannon Watts’ organization, is an attempt  to bring about a transition to Gun Control 2.0, in direct opposition to Gun Culture 2.0.

Gun control 1.0 centered around attempting to ban handguns, or at the least heavily restrict access to the chosen few. It was largely a movement of elites, and depended heavily on traditional media. Gun Control 1.0 was a colossal failure by the 1990s, and nearly everyone knew it. Gun Control 1.1 was brought about by Josh Sugarmann, who floated the idea that the public were more open minded about banning things they thought were machine guns, and the movement could take advantage of that confusion in order to build momentum for further regulation. Gun Control 1.1 was not so much a failure. With rare exception, most of the gun bans and onerous gun regulations we’ve seen in a small handful of states are a product of the past two decades. We also saw significant new federal regulations, though we’ve regained some of that ground. Nonetheless, by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it had become apparent that Gun Control 1.1 was out of steam to anyone who had an ounce of honesty. It was still a movement of elites, and still dependent on the power of traditional media to influence public opinion and prompt people to action. Those institutions are in decline.

Up until the Everytown transition, Bloomberg’s efforts were very much in the Gun Control 1.1 mold, though the idea of using Mayors is something no one had ever tried before (and for good reason, if you remember all the black eyes they took every time a MAIG mayor was convicted of this or that). We won the political fight after Sandy Hook because our opponents were still fighting like it was the 1990s. It would be difficult for anyone but a delusional fanatic to view outright defeat after the worst mass shooting in the country as anything other than abject failure, calling for the movement to reinvent itself. If there is to be a face for Gun Control 2.0, it’s Shannon Watts. I don’t think she should be lightly dismissed, and believe she is very dangerous to our rights. We underestimate her at our own peril. I see a number of trends that are worrying to me.

The first trend is that many gun owners who have only been in the issue while we’ve been charging up the hill probably don’t realize for most of that time our opponents had virtually no money. They were more in the “trying to save our phony baloney jobs” mode, rather than “fight the enemy at all costs” mode. You’re not going to undertake any major new or risky initiatives that could change the dynamic of the fight if your primary concern is whether you’ll still have a job next year. That all changes when you have a wealthy billionaire patron who can well-fund your organization with relative ease. When the survival of your organization is a given, you have a lot more room to try new things.

And trying new things is what Shannon Watts is busy doing. She’s trying to make her own horizontal interpretive community to match ours. That’s clear as crystal with all the information she’s been gathering under various guises, and if she has decent data analysis tools, she’ll get an idea of which people are most ripe to push for further action and deeper involvement. She could also get a pretty effective GOTV (Get out the Vote) machine going with what she’s been collecting if she’s smart enough to mine the data in an intelligent manner. There’s a lot of options when you have money to burn, and have the technology to micro target in a manner similar to the methods that swept Obama into power.

I see evidence that they are having some success. Not blow away success, mind you, but there’s plenty of evidence that she is indeed being at least partially successful at building an organization. The thing that should scare everyone reading this post is we probably won’t have any idea how successful she’s been until there’s another pretext similar or worse than Sandy Hook. We could be in a position where we’re forced to surrender ground. Even if that ground is minor, it’s going to be spun as a huge victory. It will convince supporters that gun control is possible, and once that floodgate opens, it might not close again, or if we’re lucky will close only after we’ve been badly bloodied.

This is not to say Shannon Watts and Everytown is going to become an unstoppable force; it’s not to say that her efforts are going to pay off in legislative victories and we’re helpless to stop her. The next time we face in battle we might sweep her from the field again. But we might not. From my point of view she’s doing all the right things. She’s doing what I would do if I were a leader on their side of the movement. Granted, a lot of things stand in her way. For one, her patron is an immanently dislikable megalomaniac who can’t keep his mouth shut. Everytime Bloomberg opens his mouth, it writes the next NRA fundraising letter. For two, the politicians like Feinstein, who don’t know what century this is, can’t help but to overreach and say things and introduce bills and amendments that cause our side to rise to the occasion. But fools like Feinstein won’t be around forever, and while I get the impression that Gun Culture 2.0 types on our side are, on balance, more passionate about the issue than both our opponents and those gunnies who came before us, we’ve seen the tremendous downside to having passion without any discipline, common sense, or any idea about how to engage oneself in civil society. This goes broader and deeper than the jackasses OCing rifles into restaurants and retail stores.

So how do we counter this terrible thing? For one, we have to bloody their noses in both the 2014 and 2016 elections. We have to set the perception early that Bloomberg and Watts’ organization is a paper tiger, before she really has a change to get some momentum going. We have to convince their volunteers and donor base that it’s a lost cause; that they won’t win no matter how hard they try. We have to demoralize them. But in order to do that, we need to be out there on the ground, and using the best tools at our disposal to ensure that the gun vote turns out. We need to ensure politicians see action and signs of life from our movement. We can’t stay complacent. We can’t keep focused on our old enemies, like CSGV and Brady who are now irrelevant and I believe soon to be on life support. If Shannon Watts is even half as successful as I fear, we’re going to have the kind of fight on our hands the likes of which most of us have never seen in our lifetimes, and we ourselves need to be realistic about what we could be facing.

Hickenlooper Ally: You Toothless Rednecks Don’t Even Have Roads

The post title is only a slight exaggeration of what Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s ally, Mike Bloomberg, actually said about Colorado voters who supported last year’s recalls.

The NRA went after two or three state Senators in a part of Colorado where I don’t think there’s roads. It’s as far rural as you can get. And, yes, they lost recall elections. I’m sorry for that. We tried to help ‘em.

Yes, Mike, keep helping the Colorado Democratic Party by talking about what hicks they all are. Maybe you’ll even remember that it was a Democratic district that was responsible for one of those recall losses, a fact that I’m sure makes the statewide Democratic candidates jump for joy that you’re generating these insulting headlines in their state during the election year.

10 Years for the Bloomberg Model Gun Control Mayor

It’s possible that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was Mike Bloomberg’s model Mayor Against Guns. Nagin organized a gun confiscation plan that he actually got away with for a little while until they city was taken to court.

Now, underscoring the need that Bloomberg had to get away from keeping his gun control brand associate with mayors, Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for bribery and money laundering.

Time to “Start Mowing [Gun Owners] Down”?

Bob Owens highlights a blog post that asks when the government will just start taking out “non-criminal cranks — scofflaws and political malcontents” just to prove a point that they are in charge.

I just don’t even know how to respond to that. The fact that she states she wants to see people with whom she simply has a political disagreement with gathered up by our government forces and “mow[ed] down,” even if, as she acknowledges, they have committed no crimes is just beyond my comprehension as a normal human being.

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