Dave Hardy asks an interesting question:
What I’ve always found interesting is — why is the 2nd Amendment considered a conservative issue, and gun control a liberal one? I have some theories which I am exploring. One is simply social and has nothing to do with logic. Liberals are less likely than conservatives to come from socio-economic groups that use or like guns. But why would that override consistency? (Esp. when it comes from persons who think (1) Bush is an incipient Hitler, we are tipping to a police state yet (2) the government should have the power to disarm the populace)?
I tend to think that gun control mostly happens when the established political order feels threatened. NFA happened as we were going through the turmoil of the Great Depression. GCA ’68 was spurred by the assassinations of political leaders like President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Dr. King. The Brady Act, the crown jewel of the gun control movement of the late 80s and early 90s, was spurned by the assassination attempt on President Reagan.
I’m not actually sure that gun control, at its root, is so much an issue of progressive vs. libertarian or conservative, so much as the political establishment vs. the people.
We’ve been successful as a movement because we’re all beneficiaries of a system that was intended to put the people as paramount in the political order; that all power of the political establishment to govern was ultimately derived from the consent of the people, that agreed to give up certain rights in order to enjoy the benefits of just government. But in giving up some rights, the people retained others, and among those was the right to bear arms.
I think this has always been somewhat of a threat to the political order, especially the leftist political order, which does not see itself as a necessary evil to protect the rights of men, but as a movement to shape society as they would like to see it. Seeing people as objects to be molded into thinking and behaving correctly, belies a certain intellectual arrogance and self absorption. This is certainly not limited to the left. You can see it on the right in spades as well. But many of those elements of the right also embrace gun control.
I think the attraction to gun control is rooted in a fear among the political establishment that their power is threatened by the idea of power being distributed in society; power that could be used against them. This might seem paranoid, but I think it odd that political turmoil, particularly assassination, seems to be a primary impetus for gun control measures.