Why They Lost on Gun Control


This is an interesting analysis from someone on the other side. They make a lot of good points I would agree with, but I think the root of their problem is there just isn’t much grassroots energy in gun control. If there was, there would be a stronger impetus to become well-organized. Despite what many people on their side of the issue believe, NRA is a manifestation of the hunting, shooting, and Second Amendment supporting community, rather than a top-down outfit. A great deal of the organizing and activism that went into defeat this latest round of gun control came from outside NRA Headquarters in Fairfax. NRA plays a role, for sure, but without the millions of people who back the organization, it would not be effective.

MAIG is the latest, and now the most effective group to join the fight for gun control, and it is a top-down organization funded almost exclusively by a super-rich mogul, rather than a manifestation of a bottom-up movement. It remains to be seen how effective the new left, represented by MoveOn and OFA, will be at promoting gun control. Gun control has always been a movement of a few elites on the top, who market gun control to the media and political class. What grassroots activists they do have are often people channeling unresolved grief, and who often lack great organizational or political skills. There are simply far more people are involved in the shooting sports, or who own or carry guns for self-defense than there are people who are truly motivated to discourage or prevent that.

16 thoughts on “Why They Lost on Gun Control”

  1. I think that’s it- the energy isn’t there. Sure, a lot of people may support gun control in general. But that push- that desire to actually do something about it- isn’t there. Why? Because gun control is just an idea to them- something that affects them only peripherally. Gun control affects us directly- it affects not only our beliefs but our way of life. That’s one hell of a motivator.

  2. They didn’t “loose” they will be back again and again while getting better and better. We need to stay vigilant. We need a strong press like they have and it cannot be so far to the right like FOX so that folks think we are nuts. For all of the things they do wrong, they still do many right.

  3. But that’s just it. They threw EVERYTHING they had at this one. The media went on a non-stop 4-month long browbeating of gun owners, and they simply could not get it done. We are more passionate about the issue, and we will see in 2014 if we have any clout left at the ballot box.

    I am not by any means implying that we can stop worrying about it. They will keep coming. Bloomberg has now staked his entire reputation on this, and the President is equally peeved that he was miffed on this one. I just don’t see Bloomberg’s profile and money making dents in places that were not already heavily blue.

  4. At this point, pro-gun people are mobilized and sensitive to the issue, where anti-gun people are discouraged. The large number of middle-of-the-road people who might have supported moderate expansions of background checks have basically become tired of the issue and used up. It will be very difficult for anyone to get them fired up again. If there was a moment for gun control, it has passed. At least until the next crisis–and we all know that there will be one, because the media will be sure to manufacture it.

    Honestly, I don’t mind Biden and Obama wasting money, political capital, and time on this, because I don’t see things happening anytime soon. We need to keep mobilized, but I think the NRA ought to be going on the offensive right now, preemptively stomping on fires. I don’t quite see that happening yet. And I’m not sure the NRA is the right group to do it.

    Still, this whole debate has given me a great opportunity to talk to people about the issue, and I’m finding that a lot of people who were reflexively in favor of more gun control changed their mind when I explained why I opposed it. Most of them were ignorant about guns and current law. When they learned more, they opposed the bill. Big picture: I think the pro-gun movement has been strengthened by all this.

    1. Ah, Ern said, “At least until the next crisis–and we all know that there will be one, because the media will be sure to manufacture it.”

      Well, no. The media did not manufacture dead children in Watertown. Guns (tools to kill or maim) were used to “manufacture” dead children. Don’t blame the media. Blame gun owners who refuse to keep weapons away nuts, insist they must be armed like the military. That’s who is causing all the deaths to innocents.

      Remember, guns don’t kill people, gun owners do.

      1. Nonsense. The media decides whether to make a circus out of a story (Newtown) or whether to keep it local (Knoxville Massacre). The media decides how long to keep the circus tent up. The media decides what agenda to pursue (i.e., how to slant the news), and how aggressively to pursue it.

        Drunk drivers kill far more people every year than “assault rifles” do, but the media couldn’t care less. Illegal immigrants are always causing multiple-fatality accidents, but the media never makes a stink about it.

        Handguns are the firearm of choice for murder in America, but the media and the gun-grabbers went right for the “assault rifles.” Blacks are 12.2% of the population, but commit more than half the murders. The black rape rate is 6.5x the white rape rate, but the media sweeps black crime under the rug. The only time they even hint at the reality of black crime is when they cry over how many blacks are murdered every year – without mentioning that blacks are even more overrepresented among murderers.

        Murder in this country is overwhelmingly black criminals killing other black criminals, with anything they can get their hands on. But it’s the statistically-insignificant mass murders that the media focuses on exclusively.

  5. “Despite what many people on their side of the issue believe, NRA is a manifestation of the hunting, shooting, and Second Amendment supporting community, rather than a top-down outfit.”

    I disagree, though the disagreement may be semantic. There is no large organization that isn’t a top-down organization. The question is, whether they are tactically adept at manipulating a phenomenon like a “community” or a “culture” into a significant “movement” of True Believers — not in the cause, but in the organization. Many aspects that are now recognized as being stereotypical of the gun rights community — e.g., being to-the-right-of-Genghis-Khan Get Tough on Crime advocates — have absolutely nothing to do with gun rights, per se, but have largely been promoted by the NRA for decades.

    I agree with Brian, above. There is a danger in pandering to what appears to be the majority of the “culture” or “community,” for the sake of organization-building, so that anyone who isn’t a virtual stereotype is driven away from the community and the movement. In my opinion NRA has been flirting with that mistake for some time now, but so far in a way that passes undetected by those not particularly sensitized to it. Or, by those that have been drawn to it precisely because they are the stereotype that has been appealed to, and therefore believe that everyone who is a gun rights advocate is philosophically exactly like them.

    1. Yes, and that’s such a typical reaction from the left. He got a bunch of comments that didn’t go the way he wanted, so he deleted them.

      That’s precisely how they would treat the Second Amendment if they could.

  6. The very first point is misleading as usual. He says NY has two Senators against all those big empty state Senators. Why doesn’t he count Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and other small states?

    He implies it’s unfair because the Senate is not proportional to the population. He imples it ought to be more like the House, which is proportional to the population, and elected every two years instead of every six.

    And since the Senate would have rejected gun control even more if it had been like the house, he’s wrong. I’d be willing to bet he knows it,, and that very first point is just a whine to get people’s attention for something so (stamps feet) *unfair*.

  7. The NRA had to be dragged, kicking a screaming, to fight for the Second Amendment. It was done so by the members, not the other way around. The members have always been far more fundamental about the Second Amendment than the NRA.

    One of the big things that pushed the NRA toward a more Constitutionalist position is the fantastic success of the state level activist organizations such as VCDL, NCGR, AzCDL and Buckeye Firearms Association. They served as notice to the NRA to “get in front” of the parade. There are organizations in nearly every state on that sort of model.

    You need very little “top down” with the distributed information ability of the Internet.

    It is the new media that is changing the dynamic. The old media can no longer control the narrative to push the “progressive” agenda.

    1. Exactly- the NRA was MUCH more moderate even 10 years ago. The rise of Gun Culture 2.0 has really changed the NRA, because members of GC2 joined the NRA, and demanded they become better protectors. The rise of the internet has also helped that, as information can be spread far and wide very easily, and its allows people to organize and join together.

      I think the NRA is very important, but most gun owners probably contacted their reps and senators way before the NRA told them too.

      The anti-gunners don’t understand that- its all about top down for them.

  8. There is a phenomenon, I believe, that may have a formal name that I have not been student enough to learn. But basically it amounts to, some entity can set a “movement” in motion, but then the movement grows beyond their control and takes on a life of its own. Or, an organization can claim credit for giving birth to the movement, when in fact they only cashed in on it later.

    I remember that back in the ’50s and ’60s, the American Rifleman had an excellent (as I recall it) monthly short feature titled “A Court Case of Consequence,” that described the often arcane nuances of some court decision regarding gun rights. But the NRA was in no way that I can recall involved in promoting grassroots political activism.

    One entity that I recall promoting guns rights activism, c. 1961, was Guns and Ammo magazine. They had regular propaganda features (and I mean that in a positive sense) and used the slogan “Support your right to keep and bear arms!” They offered a little kit for a buck or two, that as I recall included bumper stickers, flyers, and little pasters with that slogan. The reason I can pin that down fairly narrowly in time is, that their populist promotions so moved me at the time that I wrote some little RKBA rant or manifesto, just for the sake of doing it, that the other high school guys liked so much they signed it like a petition and posted it on the main bulletin board, where others signed it. It was my first public pro-gun writing. It was the end of that day before the guidance counselor took it down.

    But nostalgia aside, the point of my Old Story is that it wasn’t the NRA that energized me at the time — though I would join the NRA was I was 18, perhaps a year later. The populist (for want of a better word) activism had already been set in motion. Arguably, it was the NRA responding to a movement that had actually been inspired by others, that led to it becoming more active, though more than 15 years later, by my reckoning.

    I have to say that over the last two to three decades, my perception has been that the NRA has always hated grassroots leadership, unless the “leaders” restricted themselves to toeing a strict NRA line, which was seldom “hard.” And, they were always willing to descend to dirty tricks and character assassinations if hardline grassroots activists were dissidents to NRA’s own brand of leadership. That may have been regional, or the acts of individuals, but it did indelible harm and left long-lasting bad tastes.

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