The Future of the Gun Rights Movement

It’s a good time, in the New Year and entering the 12th year of blogging, with 11 now behind me, to take a look at where we stand, and where we’re going. I am not as optimistic as many people, and I believe in some ways we’ve lost ground since I started blogging. Here are some observations:

  • When I started blogging, the gun rights movement owned the Internet. This is no longer the case. If you go into any gun related thread, you’ll find madness and ignorance screeching pretty loudly on both sides.
  • Reasonable people have given up arguing on the Internet. That’s been left to the crazies.
  • Back in 2008, this was an eminently democratic medium. Literally anyone could start a blog, and sometimes it feels like almost everyone did.
  • Today, in 2018, the Internet is controlled by a handful of large corporations. Those corporations have, whether deliberately or not, killed the democratic nature of the Internet that existed in 2008.
  • In 2008, there was no social media. In 2018, social media has driven a good portion of the American Population, especially those who follow politics, quite literally crazy.
  • Social media favors those who spend money to seed the population with memes. While money wasn’t useless in 2008, you didn’t build an audience by spending money. Remember all those successful gun control blogs that got started a decade ago? We already had the networks in place to build a community, and we did. They didn’t, and their attempts were comical. Social media allows micro targeting, and to reach people who are most prone to be open to your messaging. In 2008, the new media favored those who already had horizontal interpretive communities in place. In 2018, social media lets you build those communities if you’re willing to spend the time and money.
  • In 2008, the gun control movement was nearly bankrupt. It is now being largely funded single handedly by Mike Bloomberg, who has the money to outspend our movement for years if he’s willing. Additionally, that money will probably expand the donor base of the gun control movement beyond Bloomberg, because having that kind of money to spend is bound to be able to rake a broader donor base. I would be surprised if even absent Bloomberg’s money, Everytown doesn’t have a substantially larger pool of donors than Brady et al had in 2008.
  • We bloggers were all out to crush the mainstream media in 2008, and we should pat ourselves on the back for succeeding. Unfortunately, I believe it’s been replaced by something far far worse.
  • The wild west days of the Internet are over. Regulation will be coming. For years we fought Congress on what I would call crusty old people regulation, mostly along the lines of “Do you know what this Internet thing is doing to the children?” Same thing happens with every new technology that frightens people ignorant of it. We were right to fight off that. But I believe that after many years in the wilderness, eventually both parties are going to come to agree to Make Antitrust Law Great Again. Alphabet (Google) will be the big target, but once it becomes fashionable again, I don’t think it will stop there.
  • I believe Facebook will either burn itself out, or our sense of etiquette online will adjust. I think the former is more likely. I gave up Twitter entirely. I don’t miss it. I’ve curtailed my Facebook activity substantially, and don’t regret that either. It was inevitable that, like Trash TV, we’d eventually get Trash Internet, and Facebook and Twitter are, if you ask me.

So where does this leave the gun rights movement?

  • We haven’t had a real high level success in the federal courts in nearly a decade. This probably won’t change unless Trump gets one or two more court appointees. Trump’s court picks, so far, have been quite good. But we might have a very limited window to pack the courts with pro-2A judges. I don’t think any of the current SCOTUS justices are planning on retiring, and Ginsburg and Breyer will hold on to their seats until their dying breaths. Heller and McDonald are effectively meaningless without another SCOTUS ruling smacking down the lower courts. Much like Lopez and Morrison, the lower courts resisted and effectively rendered those rulings without substantial meaning.
  • National Reciprocity will struggle to pass the Senate. I don’t think after 2018, it will be easier to pass. Again, I think we have a limited window here.
  • I think we need a substantial victory to take the wind out of the sails of our opponents. Understand that National Reciprocity is effectively federal preemption for handguns. It’s limited, but it will make a difference. If we’re going to move forward rather than backwards, it will take a combination of federal action under the 14th Amendment, and favorable court decisions.
  • The “bad” states will continue to get worse. Additionally, some blue states that are not bad will start going bad. Washington State and Oregon, just to name a few. Nevada might not be far behind. Colorado Dems got punched in the face, so to speak, after the magazine ban, and I don’t think will try anything again for a while. But eventually that lesson needs to be retaught, and at some point you won’t be able to touch them. California is now in the position where gun rights proponents can’t mount any meaningful legislative opposition.
  • Polls are consistently showing that if you’re a Republican, you don’t favor gun control, and if you’re a Dem, you do. The Dems are more uniform in their pro-gun control beliefs than Republicans are in their pro-gun beliefs. Independents tend to lean a bit toward the pro-gun position, but this issue has become very very partisan, and it’s probably not going to get better.
  • Our power has always rested on our ability to swing close elections. If gun rights become baked into the GOP numbers, that will mean Democratic control will be disastrous for us, because the perception will be that they already beat the gun vote. If we are to keep earning success, we have to continue developing a large pool of single-issue or near-single-issue voters. That actually gets harder, I think, the more polarized the country gets.


31 thoughts on “The Future of the Gun Rights Movement”

  1. On your last point you’re totally right, I may be to the right of center but the modern Republican party is heavily influenced by what I can only call total nutjobs (probably only as a result of the severe agitation they are causing, I’m not saying all Republicans are nutjobs), and it’s hard to single issue vote under those circumstances.

  2. Given the red/blue polarization we’ve seen, and the left being more openly inclined to push gun control than in the past, I worry that Delaware is going to get much, much worse in the next few years on the gun front.

    We have Dems that can push through anything they want. It’s always kind of been sheer dumb luck that the state isn’t as bad as MD or NJ. I hope that sheer dumb luck continues.

    1. The Delaware Supreme Court seems pretty willing to take RKBA seriously. They may be a stronger obstacle than I would have ever predicted.

  3. Which “handful” of corporations “control” the internet that didn’t in 2008?

    (And how, in what sense?)

    Nobody’s stopping anyone from starting a blog; it’s just not popular anymore.

    1. Google and Facebook are probably the two gorillas. I fear them somewhat, but at the same time, this is tech. I think these two monsters are going to trip over themselves at some point, and someone is going to come around and eat their lunch….

      But, of course, it’s impossible to predict how, or when, this might happen…

  4. The Democrats have had UNANIMOUS Control of Washington State for 8 out of the last 12 years, and I-594 is the best they could get. Also, Washington State Democrats tried to push through AWB’s back when Gregoire was Governor, and those AWB Gun Bills all died in both Separate Chambers of the Washington State Legislature back then, with Democrats having larger majorities back then over now.

    The current Anti-Gun list that the Communist AG (Bob Furgeson) in Washington State is pushing for will likely die in the Washington State Legislature, but, I believe that the intent is to get those gun bills put forth on a Ballot Initiative…….that’s tje terrifying part.

  5. Totally spot on I’d say. From what I’ve seen in polls the anti-gun states get more anti-gun, the gun freedom states become more freedom oriented (in general — doesn’t mean you won’t find some newer gun types who support Universal Background Checks or even semi-rifle restrictions).

    Things are up in the air. I’m also negative about the future, but ironically the state of and support for gun rights overall is the best I’ve seen it.

    I still think the turning point will be universal reciprocity. If we get that, I will shift to mildly optimistic. If we can hold the Senate in 2018 and replace a liberal supreme court justice or 2 (assuming Trump doesn’t give away a SCOTUS post to a favored person, as the Wolff book says he would like to)I’ll also turn midly optimistic.

    1. I think Washington State and Oregon are the States that will foreshadow where gun rights goes from here on out. I could be wrong though, as we all thought that Colorado turning (Somewhat) Anti-Gun would be “the end” of the gun rights movement. Thankfully on that, we were wrong!

      1. Things definitely turned a bit here in Colorado (magazine restriction, UBC). But I doubt you’ll see even rabid anti-gun dems stake away CCW. it’s become too normalized in the culture.

        Politicians are reluctant to take anything away, just like in the end the repubs couldn’t take away the ACA.

        1. I know. Minority voters in Colorado also seem to be more pro-gun than not as well.

          Also, in Washington State, the Democrats have 1 Seat Majorities each in both Legislative Chambers as well. There’s about 6 to 8 State House Democrats, and 2 State Senate Democrats that are in many cases, equally, or a tad bit more pro-gun than some of the State Republican representatives and state senators.

          But regardless of that, pay attention to Washington State. Their Communist AG, Bob Furgeson is pushing, dare I say, Stalinist Assault Weapons Ban Bills. He’s very public about it, and I think he knows the Bills will fail in the State Legislature, setting up his Gun Ban Bills to become an Omnibus, Conglomerated, Ballot Initiative.

        2. The Dems in CO have learned that $500K of Tom Steyers money can buy a seat in the legislature and that you can’t take any seat you already hold for granted. If they get the trifecta this year, they get to gerrymander the state in ’20 and with 1 more Rep up for grabs, you bet they’ll work as hard as they need to to make the seat safe for the Statists. With the trifecta, I would expect them to tighten the screws on the laws they passed in ’13, making magazine repair kits illegal, establishing a college campus carry ban, and possibly requiring some sort of registration depending on how that plays out in CA. If something is unpopular with the people, this will not deterr the legislature who have been shown to be willing to sacrifice a couple of seats in return for passing a hard left agenda knowing that none of it will be repealed.

          1. The only thing I’d somewhat disagree with is a campus carry ban. It’s hard to take things away from people — though admittedly that would affect very few (at least very few would realize it affected them).

            We were gerrymandered last time around for Dems, and unfortunately there’s no reason to believe they won’t stay in power. Whether they can gerrymander further … dunno. A lot of the newcomers are going to vote with the Dems and be anti-gun for sure.

  6. Long-run, I see the following phenomena:
    1. Blue-States are failing economically; there Progressive voters are migrating to prosperous Red-States.
    2. Red-States’ “Red” voters hold but a small majority; e.g., 51% to 49%. Progressive migrating voters will easily tip-the-balance of heretofore Red-States and make them Blue.
    3. Progressive voters in heretofore Red-States will reverse gun rights laws passed in recent decades.
    4. Progressive voters in heretofore Red-States will elect Democrat Senators to Congress, threatening gun-rights Federally.
    5. Progressive Representatives and Senators from populous States will introduce a proposed Constitutional Amendment to make members of the Senate proportional to the respective State’s population.
    6. Legislators in the small-population States will be pressured to ratified the proposed Constitutional Amendment in order to keep Federal grants (roads, police, MediCade, etc.) flowing. Progressive voters in all States will push for adoption of the Amendment; eventually, forcing it to pass.
    7. The Senate will cease to serve as an obstacle to Progressive majorities imposing their will to suffocate the rights of minorities (i.e., conservatives or libertarians). The Electoral College, Federal Judiciary and Congress will all become the instruments of a Progressive and agresive agenda vs. a divided and passive conservative and libertarian minority.

    Those of us in “Red” States with 1+ “Red” agenda-issues (guns, Federalism, taxes, deficits, abortion, . . . .) must become pro-active and form coalitions. Either we become staunchly and proudly RED (not merely Purple), we will lose the Senate to Progressive migration to our polling places.

    1. I’d like to say that your predictions won’t play out, but it doesn’t hurt to be at least a little pessimistic.

      I could see things that would throw wrenches in these predictions.

      First, on a local/State level, the Democrat party is devastated. It’s enough so that libertarian Eric S Raymond had a blog post calling for the Democrats to get their act together. Being a libertarian, he’s afraid that conservatives will get enough States in the next few years pass Constitutional Amendments that would be harmful to the Democrats, but are shared with libertarians.\

      Alternatively, I can easily imagine part or all of California deciding to secede; if California wishes to do so, my vote would be to do our best to make sure they can secede peacefully. If this happens, a good chunk of blue Electoral College votes disappear.

      Also, attempts to change the Senate *will* be resisted strongly by small States, despite the pressure. Indeed, as I happen to live in one such small State, I would go so far as to be supportive of secession if such a change is made in the Constitution (which, incidentally, is unConstitutional, for what it’s worth….)

      These counter-thoughts aren’t given to say that your points don’t have merit; I would even go so far as to say that these observations have a whole flavor of cynicism of their own.

      And, who knows? Perhaps after decades of failure, some of these blue States will finally realize the errors of their ways, and turn Red. (It’s been known to happen…)

    2. Your #5 is specifically prohibited by the Constitution. It is the only thing in the Constitution that can’t be amended. See Article V.
      However, I worry a lot about your previous points.

      1. Yes, the last provision of Article V reads: “. . . and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”

        This provision appears to be a “speed bump” that should give pause to citizens/voters who are concerned with faithfulness to the Constitution. The difficulty I have in relying upon this provision is that so few citizens these days maintain fervent adherence to the wisdom of the founding fathers. Fervent adherence is what it would take to make this provision effective.

        Unfortunately, the 3/4’ths of the several States specification is in conflict with the 2 limitations at the end of Article V (of which the first is obsolete). A proposed amendment could delete the “equal Suffrage in the Senate” clause; what could stop such an amendment from being proposed and ratified? Arguably, 1+ States could object, creating a “constitutional crisis”. What might be outcome be? Succession? A SCOTUS decision?

        If 38 States voted to ratify an Amendment that ended equal Suffrage in the Senate then I think the “game would be up”; it would be really hard for the 13 remaining States to hold-out. Congress would starve these 13 hold-outs of their share of Federal funds that their State legislatures would “need” to satisfy voter demands for services.

        In my opinion, ending equal Suffrage in the Senate is an end-game that would merely mark the surrender of the Federal scheme envisioned by the Constitution. Long before that date Progressive Senators would have permeated the Senate membership. Observe how many RINOs are in the Senate today.

        The far more important issue to focus on is the migration of Progressive voters from failing Blue States to the Red States. Is this happening? Will it continue to happen? Will migrating Progressives flip the balance of political sentiments in their new States of residence? What, if anything, will Red voters do to activate their neighbors to offset the Progressive encroachments?

  7. Migration from failing blue states to red states… I think we’ve forgotten a major factor- lot of the blue state voters that are making things bad are stuck where they are- unionized state employees can’t leave NY/IL/CA/etc without losing their jobs. They’re only a danger once they retire and move down to FL. But that has been happening for decades already and FL is still mostly conservative and gun-loving.

    Agreed on all the supreme court stuff. Lopez/Morrison went absolutely nowhere once the lower courts disregarded it without being punished. Heller/McDonald will be a dead letter without further effort and more justices appointed.

    On Trump supreme court picks. I am not worried about him picking the wrong people but I do agree that the lefties on the court will hang on until they die. If the republicans keep control of the senate through 2020, I give decent odds that Trump gets to replace at least one of the older left wing judges. We really dodged a bullet with Scalia’s replacement in 2016.

    I’m not as pessimistic about the blue states going full retard on the gun issue. The views of the local populations change a lot more slowly than things like party affiliation or presidential election results. Hell, I’m old enough to remember when West Virginia was like 100 percent democrats. The same voters live there and they still hold the same views, they just vote for Republican now because the national Democrat party pissed them off with gun silliness and trying to murder the coal industry. I think a more likely predictor of how well gun control does is actually the percentage of a state’s population that lives in big cities. Take away NYC and the rest of the state is largely indistinguishable from Alabama. Which also means that if rural areas empty out gun culture dies. If cities empty out, gun control dies. Which comes back to the migration question- who is migrating and where are they going?

    1. “. . . who is migrating and where are they going?” Fascinating question that I hadn’t thought of.

      Government employees of these States and municipalities shouldn’t move; I take your point. However, eventually, the Blue States will have to lay-off employees and even these voters will be compelled to consider migrating.

      Maybe the answer is to be found in pursuing your “who is migrating” question. There is a natural sentiment (among all humans) to “stay and fight” for whatever it is that one thinks is “right”. Yet, that might be a mistake; the America we know today was formed by emigrants who left Europe to live out the life that they envisioned liberty would make possible.

      Arguably, the Red States ought to advertise that they are open-for-business and invite conservative/libertarian residents of Blue States to consider moving. Get-out while the getting-is-still-possible. They are wasting their votes in Blue States whereas their votes in Red States would reinforce the Federal scheme left to us by our founding fathers. Come here and make your stand where your vote will count.

  8. In re Nationwide Reciprocity – for all I wrote an entire blog post earlier about how it was presumptively DOA, there are something like 6 NAY votes from states with constitutional carry, 4 of the votes in states where ConCarry passed since the last time this came up (the other two are the VT senators). I don’t rate it likely, since IIRC all of them votes Aye for AWBs and similar, but it’s not outright impossible, just very very unlikely.

    We spent most of a year assuming NCCWR was a feel-good “voter education” measure – then it passed the House, after all.

    (This glass needs more in it, I think)

  9. I take a longer term perspective: how are Gun-Rights trending when comparing 2017 to 1994?

    And I am optimistic!

    1. No! I hope she retires to spend more time with her grandchildren and enjoy her golden years quickly!

  10. I believe Gun-Control Laws are comparable to the old Racial Segregation Laws, and I foresee parallel political evolution on the issue.

    Only about 1/3 of the U.S. population currently lives in Anti-Gun States. True, there is a currently a stalemate at the Federal Level, but the evidence provided by the experience of real lives of real people in those wildly different legal environments will be an irresistible force.

    In the short term some people will vote with their feet, and flee to the Free States. In the long term Federal Law will eventually crush the unjust Gun-Control Laws of the Anti-Gun States.

  11. I think you are wrong about the internet. Its not controlled by a handful of large corporations. Anybody can use social media to build a brand. The democratic nature of the Internet still exists. And it gun rights are better because of that. Bloomberg’s money is concerning, but because of the Internet, its not been very helpful to the gun control movement.

    I highly doubt there will be any regulation of the internet. I don’t see it coming at all.

    We’ve rarely had good success in the federal courts, because of their failure to do their job. Its not surprising. I think Trump stacking the courts will help long term.

    I’m not as hopeful for national reciprocity, but maybe after the 2018 elections.

    Yes, the bad states will continue to get worse, but the number of bad states will shrink.

  12. The future of the gun rights movement is sitting in my living room watching kids shows.

    One is six and can hit a 4″ circle at 50 yards with a suppressed 22lr that is longer than he is tall. The other is 9 and she can also drop an arrow into targets at mid range. Mom and I took them out to blow up pumpkins three weeks ago with a .410. Good times.

    I’ve worked the political side of this problem for years and realized it will all come down to people loving who we are more than who they want us to be.

  13. I gotta disagree here. In 2008 there was social media, it just fewer jerks were using it. It was much more social and a whole lot less meme sharing, and a whole lot less advertising and no SJWs at these tech compaines. In 2008 twitter ws two years old. Myspace was already dethroned by Facebook, friendster still had 100m users.

  14. It’s not that the Dems/Libs are TRULY for gun control, because they know that guns will be needed to disarm people. Therefore they are NOT anti-gun. They’ll need the police/military guns to take away other people’s guns. So in reality, the Dems/Libs are very pro-gun; they just believe that only the Government (which is, of course, so reliable, honest, moral and virtuous…) should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small political elite and their minions.

  15. Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.
    Mao Tse-tung
    November 6, 1938

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