They Still Have No Idea What They Are Up Against

New York Magazine has an article which talks about how a lot of leaders of the marriage equality movement are now turning their sights to gun control, thinking the same tactics that got such a drastic change in public opinion will have the same effect on people’s attitudes towards guns. I think this is wishful and misguided thinking.

But guns have a special salience now, after Newtown, after South Carolina, and veterans of the marriage movement see familiar terrain in guns — so familiar that they feel optimistic about being able to guide Americans to a similarly radical culture shift down the line.

The reason that culture shift happened so quickly is because the movement played off American’s sense of fairness. On the gun issue, that isn’t going to play. It’s a pure policy issue. If anything, gun owners can play to American’s sense of fairness to argue the gun control movement wishes to treat us unfairly.

Let us also not forget that the gay marriage issue also had a very significant generation gap. The issue won as much because it’s opponents were dying off, and the proponents were all young and energetic, as much as they changed minds. There isn’t any such generational gap on the gun issue. Young people tend not to be gun owners, but that probably has a lot to do with guns being expensive, and young people facing European levels of structural unemployment.

The gay marriage issue also had a large and passionate grassroots. Not only was their community fully invested in the issue, they got their friends and family invested too. They talked to people, and changed minds. Who does that sound more like to you? The answer is not the anti-gun movement. If the anti-gun movement had a patron saint, it would be Gladys Kravitz.

The article goes on to recite left-wing myth after left-wing myth about the gun rights movement.

  • “Today, fewer households own guns than ever before”
  • “gun lobby itself, which profits, obviously, by peddling fear.”
  • “able to mobilize a small but zealous and loyal group of voters”
  • “especially on background checks, a gun-protection measure which 92 percent of Americans”

First, he’s taking advice from Dan Gross, who runs the Brady Campaign, a group that post-Newtown basically surrendered control of the movement to Mike Bloomberg because of their history of ineffectiveness. The Brady Campaign had not passed any gun control legislation of any real significance since 1994. Dan Gross lives in la la land. Everyone knows it. I’m sure even Bloomberg and Feinblatt would agree.

These people still think “assault weapons” are achievable as an issue. That boat has sailed. Last I checked they were barely holding on to a majority on that issue, and that’s with loaded polling questions. They are still parroting 92% when they know damned well in a very blue state they only got 60% yes. The article ends by speaking of a value that is just fundamentally at odds with how Americans think about personal security.

In this redefining, he hopes to make a point. “Protection” isn’t an individual matter (a canard in any case, because having a gun in the house makes you exponentially less safe) in which individual patriarchs safeguard individual offspring. “Protection” is a communitarian thing, in which the safety of one’s own children depends on the safe habits of one’s neighbors.

This is a very European attitude, and one that is completely foreign to the American Experience, which has a tradition of armed, personal defense. This message will play very well with European Immigrants. It’s going to fall flat with Americans, even most liberal Americans. How are these people thinking they are going to make any difference at all when they don’t even understand the fight or who they are fighting?

29 Responses to “They Still Have No Idea What They Are Up Against”

  1. The_Jack says:

    No link?

    And you’re right that there is a deep lack of understanding.

    The Gun Control movement has an extreme weakness in “Red Team Thinking”. That is understanding the motivations, tactics, and even “terrain” of one’s rivals.

    Like many other movements, Gun Control seems to be more about social signaling to members of the “in group” than successful advocacy or argument.

    Heck one can see that by the folks behind this very push.

    From Marriage equality to gun control? Oh-kay then.

    Do they even know what the gun control stance is on issuing goverment permits? Here’s a hint, it’s not “Permits should be denied to those agents of the state feel are icky.”

  2. Lance Lot Link says:

    a similarly radical culture shift

    But the antis assure us there is no cultural war and that’s just a fabrication used by the NRA.

    A link to the article would be good as a future resource to gut the usual Bloomburg talking points.

    • The_Jack says:

      Given the frequency with which they scream about the evils of the “gun culture”….

  3. Daniel Ortiz says:

    “How are these people thinking they are going to make any difference at all when they don’t even understand the fight or who they are fighting?”

    I believe this is one reason we keep winning. Time and again they have underestimated or misjudged us. I’m glad they do, so long as we keep fighting and spreading the culture at every opportunity we (as individuals) can find. If we let that fade, it’s just a matter of time before their estimates will become accurate.

    The other reason we keep winning? Because we’re the ones with liberties at stake. Even a non-gun owner that understands the concept of liberty understands this, and would be likely to consider it in their voting. That’s a concept I feel needs to be expressed more often. These rights won’t ever come back if we let them get legislated away. Ever. So we fight on. Forever. Le sigh.

    • Brad says:

      Exactly right!

      I think that is why the stories of horrible injustices inflicted by gun control laws coming out of New Jersey are so powerful. The martyrs of gun control repression like Shaneen Allen and Brian Aitken.

  4. Sebastian says:

    Ooops…. I forgot to put the link in. That has been corrected.

  5. TS says:

    because having a gun in the house makes you exponentially less safe

    Exponentially, eh? I wonder how they managed to get an exponential output from a discrete input (gun in the home: 1 or 0)

    • Sebastian says:

      Math is not their strong suit, apparently. Not surprising.

      • The_Jack says:

        Neither is nomenclature or the legal status quo.

        But these are people who are advocating that the gun control movment has been too logical and needs to be more emotional.

  6. The_Jack says:

    This pagraph here is a good summation of the worldview the article is operating out of

    Americans are almost neurotically at odds with themselves and each other over guns. Today, fewer households own guns than ever before — about a third, according to a 2015 poll by the General Social Survey — but the people who do own guns own more than one, often many. At the same time, polls since Newtown show an increase in the number of people who believe that owning a gun would make them safer (63 percent in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2000), a fragile and anxious mind-set that is both real — gun sales rose dramatically in the aftermath of the election of Barack Obama — and also cultivated by the gun lobby itself, which profits, obviously, by peddling fear. In this way, pro-gun forces are like the anti-abortion army of the 1980s, which was able to mobilize a small but zealous and loyal group of voters who believed they were fighting to protect a way of life and would turn out in numbers in any weather to do so. When the debate is thus waged at the national level as a matter of Constitutional protections and “rights,” as it was in the spring of 2012, when the Newtown shootings prompted the president to bring a gun-reform bill to Congress, the gun-reform forces have been historically overwhelmed: outshouted, outvoted, outspent. “The best thing you can say about the gun lobby,” says Silk, “is that they’re really good community organizers.”

    The condecension is dripping.
    Not just in the idea that people could own multiple guns but the repeated statements mocking the mental health of gun owners.

    But there’s also scare quotes around rights

    And the dissonect of people increasing their like of guns (and increased sales) but somehow less gun owners.

    Not to mention the “Silly paranoids thinking Obama was going to ban guns. Oh if only Obama could ban guns!” Blackwhite newspeak.

    And topped all off with the new term “gun-reform”. A tacit admision that gun control as a term has too much baggage.

    Instead of following every mass shooting with anguished cries of outrage, and barrages of data on deaths, rounds of ammo, and millions of guns sold — together with an implicit disregard of and condescension toward the firmly held allegiances of gun owners (how could they?) — gun activists are taking a much more incremental, practical approach with a message that goes to the heart, not the head.

    Uh…. sure. The gun control advocates are so much less condecending now.

    Given they mentioned the critial importance of messaging to their “foot soldiers” imediatly before that section….

    And are they aruging that the gun control message was *too logical* in the past?

    There’s also this fascianting bit:

    The old paradigm, says Gross, who has a background in advertising, was “keeping certain guns away from all people.” (Assault rifles, for example.) The new one, which focuses on background checks, is about “keeping all guns away from certain people.” (People with criminal records, domestic abusers, the mentally ill.)

    Which is either A) a tacit admission that the gun control movement has fallen to where they can’t get their gun bans pushed anymore. Or B) an implication that this “rebranding” is merely a Trojan horse to push for bans later on.

    Or C) Both.

    • Brad says:

      What was that Sun Tzu said about knowing yourself and knowing the enemy?

      Here we have a case of the Gun Control movement not knowing themselves, as well as not knowing the enemy!

  7. Sebastian says:

    What they really don’t understand is that the more they demean us, the more they look down on us, the more they act like out betters, the harder we fight, and the more resources we can bring to bear against them.

    • The_Jack says:

      On some level they do.

      Given how the article points out they should not indulge in “implicit disregard of and condescension toward… gun owners”.

      And yet they cannot ressist doing exactly that.

      • Sebastian says:

        They understand it hurts them, but they don’t understand what they engage in that is insulting to gun owners.

        • The_Jack says:

          Which circles back to them having no idea.

          Similar to why they don’t understand why a frequent and gross ignorance on the legal status quo hurts them.

          In some ways Ignorance really is Strength for them (at least having an audiance that is ignorant), but it has its weaknesses too.

  8. The Jack says:

    Another thing the article misses is a procedural thing.

    Much of the success of SSM has been via the courts. That is getting judges to strike down bans or simply expanding who qualifies for certain permits.

    And sure there’s an analog with gun laws… but the antis wouldn’t like it.

    Now certainly building public consensus towards an issue could help a judge make a ruling in a certain way.

    And yes, the courts have been quite willing to support various background check laws and gun bans.

    However… those were all *existing* law.

    It seems doubtful that some Circuit court would rule that a State’s *lack* of a UCB is unconstitutional and demand that one be instituted.

    Which is important. Getting a rainbow avatar for your FB account or signing an online petition is *much* easier than writing letters or showing up to representatives offices.

    It takes more engagement to get legislation passed than it does to support a judicial ruling.

    • Brad says:

      Exactly right! The Left is overestimating the size and nature of their victory on gay marriage. They only half won public opinion. They only won half the states. Their real victory was in the Federal Courts.

      What’s going on here is hubris. The Left and the Democrats are so full of themselves after the Supreme Court ruling that gave them gay marriage, that they think they can also win on gun control. I suspected they were beginning to fall into this trap, and that article from New York Magazine adds data to support my theory.

      And it’s more than just talk by Left Wing activists. Hillary has already changed her campaign to reflect a new focus on pushing gun control.

      My friends, the Left and the Democrats are making an enormous blunder, and we have a chance to smash them worse than they have ever been smashed before. What we have here is a case of the Gun Control movement mounting a political Pickett’s Charge against our lines. Get ready!

      • The Jack says:

        I would caution about hubris on our end.

        If the antis can actually follow their advice and tailor their messaging to where they are strongest (UBCs especially via ballot measure) they can continue at it.

        Ian mentioned a worry in the wake of Charleston that if the antis focused on “NICS reform” they could make the purchase of guns much more onerous and painful.

        (Which is why it’s important to watch what’s coming down the pipe. Especially if Obama et al. keep yammering about how great Australia’s gun laws are or why AWBs should be banned).

        And there’s also exactly what gun control Hillary endorses.
        (If any on the media would actually get the opportunity and inclination to ask).

        The question is why she’s doing it. Since neither Obama nor her husband downplayed their gun control interest on the campaign trail with a wink and a nod.

        I mean it’s not like the antis would be worried she’d be pro gun.
        Or that she wouldn’t push for gun control if the opportunity arose.

        I suppose they would be worried that Hillary would put gun control as a low priority and just give the antis vague platitudes once in office.
        (Though salving that concern with vague platitudes on the campaign trail…)

        Hillary might have done this because (in her view) it’s a low-impact way for her to get to the left of Bernie. And while gun control isn’t a major desire for the Left it is a handy social signal, which could be why she is tacking that way.

        Or there’s that her people honestly think this will be a net win for her in the general election.

        • Brad says:

          I think it’s pretty clear that since 2004 the Democrats, particularly Obama, lowered their profile on gun-control and went to extraordinary lengths to tamp down fear they would push gun control despite boilerplate anti-gun policies in the Party platform.

          It was amazing to see the wiggling and dissembling that Obama engaged in during 2008 to run from his extremist anti-gun record. Disavowing past statements and writings, claiming support for the 2nd Amendment, refusing to state favoring DC prior to DC v Heller ruling, even using Senator Webb to give Obama explicit cover on the issue of gun-control.

          Of course all that ended in December 2012, when the Democrats dropped the mask and tried to ram through anti-gun legislation. That was also the first time I saw high profile advocates for gun control openly promoting the ‘Australia solution’, like Scarborough did on MSNBC.

          Of course that gun-control push ended in failure in Congress and in disaster during the 2014 mid-term elections. You would think that outcome would have taught Democrats a lesson.

          Yet the Gay Marriage victory seems to have wiped away the memory of that failure. I really believe we are going to see a rerun of the early 2013 gun control efforts, yet this time it will be during the 2016 Presidential campaign, because Hillary is going to push it.

  9. Miguel says:

    “Math is not their strong suit, apparently. Not surprising.”

    One of my recurring themes. Libs can’t do math.

    Estimates put Lesbians and Gays at 1.7% of the population or 5.3 million; according to the cognoscenti, a very sizable number for a minority that should not be ignored. Yet, just Citizens with Concealed carry permits across the nation top the 10 million mark, gun owners are somewhere in the 80 million vicinity but somehow we are inconsequential, needed no to be paid attention to.

    They are scared of the day we shall have equal access and media time as they know they will disappear from the political discussion.

  10. janklow says:

    “These people still think “assault weapons” are achievable as an issue. That boat has sailed. ”

    well… in most states.

  11. Alpheus says:

    One thing that always comes to mind when I see such articles (which, for the record, I only skimmed, but was able to nonetheless get the gist of):

    We can take proponents, fence-sitters, and even opponents of our cause to gun ranges, and them guns, and encourage them to shoot at reactive targets that pop, flip, poof, and even explode.

    What do our opponents have? Anti-gun ranges? Well, anti-gun shops, I guess, but even those are easily refutable, and somewhat distasteful. (Indeed, having only stories about the bad that a given gun may have caused, and ignoring the good that they have done–hey, this gun was used to defend a Korean-American business from LA riot mobs!–is disingenuous at best.)

  12. Anon says:

    The gun control movement is run by out of touch onepercenters.

  13. mikee says:

    Re assault weapons: how long until the SAFE Act in NY goes away? OR the changes in other states after Newtown? We need to avoid the ratchet-like one-directional movement of laws and change to increasing gun rights, faster.

  14. tincankilla says:

    i was wondering where the gay outrage machine would turn after marriage equality – and Bloomberg money likely has a lot to do with it by buying off leadership.

    That said, the issue MOST similar to gun rights is abortion rights: Individual autonomy, freedom of choice, the right to control one’s body – all neatly align with being pro-choice on guns.

    the dilemma is most 2A supporters are Repubs and inconsistent on individual liberty, so can’t bring themselves to support abortion rights.

  15. ASM826 says:

    Here’s something for all of you to ponder:

    Where do our freedoms really derive from?

    • Sebastian says:

      Noncompliance is a fine and wholesome thing. I support it wholeheartedly.

      However, the goal should be to not lose in the first place.

      I was one of those people urging people to vote for McCain, and if he had won, we’d have a 7-2 vote for the Second Amendment on the court right now. Even if he doesn’t beat the GOP average, we’d have a 6-3, meaning we wouldn’t have to walk on eggshells worried about losing Roberts or Kennedy. We’d be vastly better off, and people who argue we wouldn’t are sticking their heads in the sand.

  16. Veritas says:

    Why is it that you repeat the nonsense that society supports queer marriage? More states have had courts overturn the people’s decision to ban such marriages than the people have voted to support them? So your evidence for such an claim is about as trustworthy as the drinakability of Mexican tap water.

    No sale.

    • Sebastian says:

      Because I can read poll numbers. There’s a huge generation gap on this issue. Public opinion on this issue has shifted drastically. If it had shifted this drastically on the gun issue, I’d be despondent, but that is moving in the other direction.

      You’ve injected yourself into several comments threads by now. You seem to be a paleoconservative. I don’t think you’ll find the generally conservatarian content here to your liking.