The Glacial Pace

Megan McArdle has a must read post that reflects a lot of the things I’ve been trying to say here in regards to gun rights. She uses a different context, but it applies to what we do:

First, most grassroots action never achieves anything, because most grassroots action is at odds with what the majority wants. You can wave your polls about the environment until you’re blue in the face, but I maintain that the public gets a lot angrier about rising gas prices than about climate change, which tells me where their actual priorities lie. People look at the civil rights movement and think “Yeah! That’s the way to do it!” but it was preceeded by decades of slow, painful work preparing for it. Likewise, it took decades to get women the vote. Most major political change occurs at a glacial pace.

Bold text emphasis mine. I think gun folks are often in need of understanding this; we’re not getting rid of most gun control laws any time soon, and the reason is because the majority of the population doesn’t want to get rid of them. Whether it’s because they support them, or just don’t care, isn’t really material. If we are to roll this back, it will take great care, and a lot of time. The no-compromise groups are selling a snake oil solution, that promises a quick cure. As much as I wish it were true, it’s not going to work. We must be no-compromise in spirit, but in the political process, it’s pragmatism that wins. She goes on:

The other thing I would emphasize is that protesting minorities generally succeed when their letters, marches, etc. emphasize their role as part of a larger culture. This is why the breast cancer lobby is overwhelmingly more successful than, say, the antiwar movement.

But on a lot of issues, the grassroots culture really emphasizes alienation rather than connection. Antiwar protests might not have stopped the war no matter what, but it’s a safe bet they’d have garnered more sympathy and respect for their views had more of the protesters shown up dressed for the Elks Lodge Annual Dinner Dance rather than Sunday afternoon in the Village. Undoubtedly, in an ideal world conformity to restrictive social norms would not be a prerequisite for activist success, but you’re stuck with the primate tribe you got born into, where it largely is. The boomers got away with it because they were the largest generation in American history, and had recently been given the vote. No one else will get to repeat that feat.

This gets back to what SayUncle says about not scaring the white folk, and why I’m such an advocate about keeping this movement in the main stream, and advocate using language and tactics that ordinary Americans, many of whom own guns, but few of whom are gun nuts, can relate to.  There’s no surer way to failure than for the gun rights movement to become a lunatic fringe.

So there, Megan McArdle agrees with me :)  So if you didn’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe her :)

12 Responses to “The Glacial Pace”

  1. straightarrow says:

    Been saving this for you.

    “You have to convince those people, because they vote. They vote for the politicians who make the law, and who appoint and confirm the judges that say what the law is. If you don’t convince these people, you lose. You can get mad all you want that not enough people care about liberty, it pisses me off too, but eventually you have to deal with it, and figure out how to work with what you’ve got.”-Sebastian.

    Ok, tell me how writing and lobbying for more gun control convinces “those” people that gun control is wrong and anti-liberty. Tell me how not supporting obviously good causes which have all the moral and legal precedent in their favor convinces “those” people that they are wrong. Tell me how being quiet when you should speak up, convinces “those” people. Tell me how supporting
    laws which are not constitutional, which are not in alignment with liberty and which are not beneficial to any citizen and certainly not your membership’s causes “those” people to see your side of it.
    The only thing I can make of defense of consistent behavior such as that is that perhaps you have a skewed idea of just whom “those” people are.

  2. Wade Jensen says:

    What I think Sebastian is saying is that fundamentally, we are not going to change “those” peoples minds. Therefore, the most we can hope to accomplish is that with which at least 51% of the public agrees. At the margins, we can perhap win a convert of two, here and there, if the person isn’t already anti-gun, but that is the most we can hope for at any time. With that in mind, we need to quietly work to open up the minds of the youth. Support JROTC, youth riflery training, Boy Scout Marksmanship training, or anything else we can dream up. We will not see much movement in our lifetime, but by changing the numbers among the youth, they will experience the change. It’s for the children. And we are in this for the long haul.


  3. Sebastian says:

    I would agree with that. Fundamentally you have to bring more people into the shooting sports, or we’re doomed. The reason being that people’s unfamiliarity with firearms is the mold from which the anti-gun movement is formed. Most of the people you take shooting will never become activist, but if you can get them not to buy the Brady Campaigns bullshit that’s a step in the right direction.

    Ok, tell me how writing and lobbying for more gun control convinces “those” people that gun control is wrong and anti-liberty

    It doesn’t, but no one is lobbying for more gun control on our side, no matter what people think. All I would say is that most people, fundamentally, don’t care about liberty, the constitution, or what have you. Oh, they will tell you they do, but when you really start grilling them about it, they know nothing. What I’m saying is that we need to keep the movement in the mainstream. This is a sound bite world, and that’s why NRA can’t go on CNN and say “Legal machine guns for everybody!”; that’ll just frighten people away from the issue, and they won’t bother trying to learn more, nor will they listen when I run across them and start trying to explain our issue to them. As much as I deal with pro-gun types that hate NRA, there are plenty of people not in the issue who say “Oh, you like guns, but you’re not a member of NRA are you? They’re crazy. They want to arm schoolteachers!”

  4. There’s a lesson to be learned from the gun control lobby (well, liberals in general). Incrementalism. That’s how we got where we are, and that’s the only way it’s going to get undone. Stomping our feet and screaming that we want it all now is going to get us exactly nothing.

  5. straightarrow says:

    “It doesn’t, but no one is lobbying for more gun control on our side, no matter what people think.”-Sebastian

    That’s just not true.

  6. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    The GOA is lobbying for gun control, whether they realize it or not.

  7. Sebastian says:

    From what I hear from other lobbyists, GOA’s presence on capital hill is non existent.

  8. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I think that was my point. They have little ability to deliver real votes, so they spend a lot of time raising fear, uncertainty, and doubt in other people.

  9. straightarrow says:

    Hiding from the problem doesn’t solve it. Name others that practice well or don’t practice well, doesn’t absolve anyone. It just makes the list longer.

    Repeat, hiding from the problem doesn’t solve it.

    Oh, and if HR2640 (do you really need examples of other gun control laws lobbied for by NRA? I should think you would find that personally embarrassing.) doesn’t qualify as gun control, what does. Congress has done what it could against the actual hardware for the time being, so they are left with expanding the pool of prohibited persons, at least until the gun grabbers get a larger majority or an even frlendlier president than they have now.

  10. Greg says:

    A friend of mine told me a story about his father, who was a district engineer in New York state. He has a number of gun permits. He was travelling (on train or subway, I forget) and struck up a conversation with a nice elderly lady. They talked about alot of things, and somehow the conversation turned to guns. She told my friend’s father that she was afraid of guns and people with them. He asked her why, but she didn’t really know, she was just afraid. He then asked her: “I have a gun, are you afraid of me?” Startled, she told him no, he was such a nice man, she was not afraid. He told her there were lots of nice people who have guns. She said she would have to re-think about her fear of people with guns.
    This is why I cringe whenever I see someone, dressed like they just came out of the woods or from a battlefield, scruffy & loud, vehemently denouncing anyone who doesn’t carry a gun or support the 2nd Amendment.
    I don’t spend a lot of effort preaching to the choir, and as little trying to convince the rabid gun-haters. The folks I try to reach are the ones that don’t know. That’s what the gunban media does. Why do you think gun owners are nearly always represented or portrayed as psychos or hillbilly idiots? It’s perception. It’s hard to be afraid of, or angry at, someone who seems normal & rational.
    If all I can get them to do is stay neutral & not support the gun-banners, then I chalk that up as a win. If I can turn some of them to the pro-gun camp, then it’s a big win. Without the support of those that they can fool, the gun-grabbers can’t get very far.

  11. straightarrow says:

    Just where the Hell are you finding all these stereotypical loud-mouthed, camo wearing, unkempt, dirty, long haired, mountain man hermit type freaks that are scaring all the white people?

    That image was made of whole cloth and sold as truth through the power of television. Radio couldn’t do that. That stereotype had to wait for the advent of pictures.

    And you bought it? You actually bought that depiction as a reliable image of gun-owners and second amendment supporters?

    Shame on you. Get thee to the other side. That’s where stupid lives. Not here.

  12. straightarrow says:

    Don’t bother getting angry or replying while in high dudgeon. Just ask yourself this. How many people answering that description do you personally know? How many can you name by name?

    That’s what I thought!