The thought has occurred to me that gun rights did better in the first two years of Obama’s term than we have so far after a supposedly stunning election upset. How did we get here, and what factors are working against us. I have a few things:
- Bloomberg by far is the biggest factor. I’d follow that closely by Obama’s organization. Between them there is a lot of money, smarts, and organizational ability available to promote gun control. Those things are very important.
- Trump is a highly divisive figure and is about the best lightning rod that the Dems could have asked for. While I think it’s true that any candidate who beat Hillary would have been Hitler, Trump galvanizes people in a way I’ve seen from no other President. People on the right didn’t much like Obama, but even Obama wasn’t the lightning rod Trump is. People generally liked Obama even if they hated his policies. Trump isn’t getting the same consideration.
- Our activists are getting old and tired. They are not being replaced by people with youthful energy. If you look at analysis of the March for your Guns, the other side actually has the same problem. The general trend, if you ask me, is that millennials are far more removed from traditional civic life than past generations. I actually think millennials are more civic minded than my generation, but their views on civic life are very different. They are far less cynical than my generation, but they are also far more naive.
- Decline in hunting. For all the bullshit about the Fudds you hear, those guys are really the minority of hunters. The fact is that most hunters support gun rights, even if they don’t hunt with the stuff you and I like to shoot with. Hunters are a natural and large base for the gun rights movement, and the idea that we’re going to be able to hold the line with just a bunch of IDPA and IPSC shooters is nuts. The decline in hunting will hurt us.
- NRA has gotten complacent, far too reliant on gun owners self-organizing, and far too reliant on their main PR firm. I think they need to seek out a diversity on views about how they promote their public image. Unlike some people, I’m not viscerally opposed to Ack-Mac being involved with NRA, but I think NRA should invite in some competing views in that area. They also need to really start making major investments in traditional grassroots organizing. They need membership that are active rather than passive consumers of NRA’s product.
- The Republican Party has no competition for the gun vote. The reason we did better in Obama’s first two years? The Dems were competing for gun votes with the GOP. You’re seeing a lot of Republicans take a stand on the assault weapons issue, but give into the gun control folks on other issues. They are letting Bloomberg demand a whole slice of our cake, offering him a half slice and then coming back to us and saying “See, we saved you half a slice. Don’t you love us?” No assholes, do something for us. They deserve to be richly punished, but they also know if the Dems are polling at 40% for repealing the Second Amendment, with sweeping gun bans and other restrictions polling even higher, they don’t have to do much for us. Again, we can take our ball and go home, but that basically means no one will give a shit what we think and we’ll get steamrolled. It’s forfeiting the game.
The common theme here is demographic trends are catching up to us. Bloomberg’s money is by far the biggest factor. There isn’t enough passion for gun control out there for it to self-organize, but if money is no object, and you have a lot of smart Obama people who suddenly found themselves out of a job and needing a cause, you can accomplish quite a lot with a top-down approach.