Problem is probably not the right word, but I mean to talk about what makes organizing gun owners a lot like herding cats, and makes a lot of the traditional types of activism the left uses ineffective when applied to gun owners.
In my experience, the overwhelming sentiment among gun people is this: “Leave me alone!”Â I don’t care how you cut your activism, for most people, that pretty much what it boils down to.Â Many of us would pay little attention to politics if it wasn’t for the understanding that there are a lot of politicians out there who would take every last gun and cartridge out of our closet if given half the chance.
For a bunch of cantankerous individualists, we’ve actually done pretty well.Â I would argue far better than most left wing groups have been able to do.Â The left are out to make their mark on the world — to mold it, to perfect it, and to eliminate its sins.Â Purging perceived evils from the world is far more emotionally satisfying than “leave me alone,” and the types of people who are out to change the world are more likely to be emotionally rewarded through collective action.Â For us, the “leave me alone” strain is as likely to make our rank and file get as annoyed with activists as they do with politicians.Â Most would rather hit the woods, raise families, shoot matches, ply their trades, tinker, read a book, or do any number of things rather than spend a nice spring day in some (often far away) city known as D.C. (which they’ve heard really sucks anyway).
But even if our folks could be convinced to join protests, is it really effective?Â For all the hewing and hawing about the Iraq war, it seems we’re going wrap that job up rather than leaving the embassy on the last helicopter out.Â For all the near riots that surround any meeting of the IMF, World Bank, or WTO, those institutions don’t appear poised to disappear or recede quietly into the sunset.Â Did protests end the Vietnam war?Â Or was it bringing the war into people’s living rooms every night?
Gun owners could do better, but I don’t think we’ll do better by adopting the most ineffective tactics of the left, and methods where we start out at a disadvantage due to the psychological makeup of most of our people.Â Let the left stick to trying to change the world.Â We need to stick to methods that will work for organizing cantankerous individualists.Â I’m not convinced that’s protests.