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A Discomforting Thought

I think a lot of folks are deeply uncomfortable with the notion that a handful of rich guys can essentially buy their preferred policy. Perhaps so uncomfortable that they don’t want to admit it’s the case. But they can. In our type of democratic system, they at least have to convince voters. But unfortunately that’s not all that hard.

Caleb has a great article about the future gun control fight. Also see what Miguel had in reference to my comments from yesterday. I don’t mean to come off as a pessimist. Bloomberg has picked a hell of a fight with us. That money of his would have steamrollered over other issues. But we do have our own advantages. What I would say to our people:

  • The time for division is not now. We need a strong NRA. If you quit NRA over bump stocks or red flag laws, you aren’t helping. I’m not saying we can’t have disagreement, but we all need to be rowing in the same direction and understanding what’s important. Miguel notes that activists in Florida are concentrating on Open Carry. I would advise concentrating on stopping the ballot measure Bloomberg is going to foist on you in 2020. NRA has to have money to fight that. We cannot write off the third most populous state. We will never be able to outspend Bloomberg, but we sure as hell can out-organize him. We have a blueprint, and last I heard the dude who pulled off defeating the Massachusetts handgun ban is still alive. The odds were stacked against him too.
  • Forget about the fucking bump stocks. It’s not where the fight is. That’s over. The fight is preserving the right to own semi-automatic firearms. That’s ultimately what they want, because they are well aware no state’s gun culture has ever come back from an assault weapons ban. Gun bans are a death blow to the culture. If you want to get the hard-core activists worked up over saving an impractical range toy, or in some misguided effort to (badly) get around the machine gun restrictions, you’re not paying attention to where the actual fight is.
  • Be prepared to go to your capitol in protest. Start organizing that with local resources now. It will be needed.
  • Set up communication channels that can’t be shut down or censored by Facebook and Google. The achilleas heel of blogs is that they depend on search traffic, and search traffic can be manipulated. The elite basically have the ability to completely screw us if they decide to start shutting down pro-2A groups and pages on social media, and manipulate the search results so that no one ever finds our arguments. As a community, we need to get more sophisticated about manipulating search results. But good old fashioned e-mail lists will end up being valuable. These monstrosities are powerful, but they are still big systems that no human could possibly look after. So we have to get good at getting around the barriers they can throw up.
  • Recruit young people. If you’re worried about this issue, you’ve already lost. I’m not as worried we’ve lost the youth, because there are cultural indicators that are quite positive there. We’re becoming the new counter-culture, and I wonder if we should start marketing ourselves that way.

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t think gun rights has been this precarious since the 1990s. Why? I would propose:

  • Bloomberg’s infusion of cash has made a huge difference. We self-organize, as a movement. If the NRA didn’t exist, we would have to create it. I’ve always known we were good at this, but even I’ve been blown away at times at just how good we are at self-organization. The gun control movement does not self-organize. There needs to be an external force to organize a gun control movement. But the people are out there if you have money to pay people to organize them. Bloomberg has that money, and he brought that to the table. It’s starting to pay off.
  • The Supreme Court gave us Heller and McDonald and then went radio silent on the 2nd Amendment. This emboldened the lower courts to engage in full court resistance to those rulings. Culturally, I think Heller and McDonald were a huge boost to the pro-gun movement, and I would say the peak of our power was the 2008-2010 time frame, before Bloomberg really got started, and before it became apparent the lower courts were going to successfully engage in mass resistance. Having the courts abandon the Second Amendment was demoralizing for us and empowering for them.
  • People cheer flight from blue states, but that flight has consequences. Californians have successfully ruined several states of the mountain west. Where’s all the flight from New Jersey and New York going? Where are people from Massachusetts relocating to? And what is happening to those states? This is altering the political landscape of nearby states in fundamental ways.
  • A lot of the old 2nd Amendment warriors are continuing to get old, and wearing out. There aren’t the young people to replace them. Young gun owners have no idea just how bad it can get. Most of them don’t have the experience of having lived through the 1990s and early aughts. They were kids. They came into the issue around the time we were flying high. They don’t remember the assault weapons ban. It’s a theoretical threat to a lot of the young people. Gen Xers are not joiners. Millennials are better than us about that kind of thing, but as gun owners they strike me as still being less engaged politically than older gun owners. Hunting is in decline, but despite people throwing “Fudd” around, in my experience most hunters are pretty passionate about the 2nd Amendment. Shooters have been unwise to dismiss hunting. It was a huge mistake we’re going to pay a price for down the road.

What else? I’m sure there are other factors, but these strike me as big ones.

What’s on the Dem Agenda?

Guns.com has the rundown:

  • Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.
  • No time limit on background checks. All a hostile President would need to do is shut down NICS.
  • Rifle caliber pistols to the NFA.
  • Semi-Auto Rifles that accept detachable magazines to NFA.
  • 80 Percent Lowers are Lowers.

Right now they are pushing HR 8 hard, but this is the shit that’s coming if they manage that.

More on the Realignment

Probably one of the most interesting developments in the realignment going on. If my social media feeds tell me anything, protestant evangelicals have largely done a turnaround in their attitudes towards jews and Israel as the political winds have shifted. The Dems now host some of the more virulently anti-semitic elected officials in American politics. That whole issue is in the process of swapping parties.

Listening to Trump’s SOTU, it’s pretty clear there are some other issues shifting as well. How many issues Trump brought up in SOTU would have been Dem issues a decade ago? Family leave? Fair trade? Ending wars? I was told all these things were good and wholesome, but the orange man, he is bad!

We Should File a Civil Rights Lawsuit Over This

Los Angeles is demanding contractors disclose ties to NRA. Denying contracts because a contractor is exercising their First Amendment rights? I’d sue them senseless over that bullshit if they denied me a contract. In fact, isn’t the threat enough? I’m hoping the NRA ends up owning Governor Cuomo. I wouldn’t mind seeing a nice fat payout from Los Angeles either.

We can’t keep taking this shit. We need to strike back at these people and make it painful for them.

Why Polls are Junk

One thing Bitter and I agree on in regards to Trump is that he doesn’t give a rats ass about polling, and that it’s both refreshing and terrifying. My Congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick, a rare specimen of the endangered Republicanus Bloombergensus, I don’t think takes a shit without checking first to see how well it will poll. The problem with leadership by poll is that most polls are junk, and lobbyists pushing one issue or another are happy to put their junk polling in front o lawmakers and their staff. The one Salon is hawking to promote gun control is no exception. Looks good for the gun control folks doesn’t it? Eight percent say it’s their biggest issue! Of those four to one broke for Dems! Oh dear! I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history!

Except if you look at the AP survey, at its root it’s a self-selected poll, which has about zero validity:

We start by mailing a postcard to a random sample of registered voters in 25 states, inviting them to take our survey either online or by phone. We also try to reach those registered voters directly by phone. At the same time, we’re conducting a random-sample survey of registered voters nationwide. Finally, we survey self-identified registered voters in all 50 states using online panels, which allows us to interview a very large number of people in just a few days.

Emphasis mine. Even if your initial sampling is random, if they have to choose whether to participate, the numbers are going to be skewed over what they would be if they were truly random. In truth all polling has this flaw, which is why polling, for the most part, is bullshit. Telephone polling was a better method in the era when people answered their phones and would have felt social pressure to participate. But what’s replacing telephone polling is utter garbage. This survey has all those flaws in spades. No one should pay a lick of attention to this shit. I think an attribute of people who are politically successful after the realignment is they won’t pay any attention to polling. Polls, like candy, are the junk food of the political world.

How do you know what voters in your community think, if you’re the politician representing them? Get out there and talk to them. Get out there in the community. There’s no substitute for that. Don’t just talk to your donors. Talk to real people. Years ago, everyone knew this. Somehow, we’ve forgotten.

What’s Important in the Debate? Is it Even Debate?

Reader RAH notes:

Yet when Mitch Daniels who was a very good governor and he said to stick with fiscal conservatism and avoid culture clashes. He was wrong Culture is what drives policy. The left has been winning culture wars and that affect my freedom and my children’s freedom. I see the same Mitch Daniels attitude in the comments here a lot.

I used to think reason and debate mattered, but now I’m not all that sure. It matters to a small subset of the population who like that kind of thing. But in the overall political picture, I’m not sure reason and debate matter worth a damn. Most base what they think on emotion. In fact, one reason I’d argue social media is awful is because you can’t get away from that. People going off about things without even basic experience on a topic, aggressive ignorance, overt emotional displays and virtue signaling are the bread and butter of political opinion on social media. This is not limited to one side of the debate: this is true about every side of any issue.

But is RAH correct? I’m increasingly thinking so. Look at where the Overton Window has shifted to in the abortion debate. The debate is now whether it’s OK to commit infanticide. I’m nominally in favor of abortion being legal, but this is too far for me. But that’s where the debate has shifted to. I spent ten years on this blog arguing that machine gun rights are a lost cause unless we can change the issue culturally. In five years the left has gone from pushing gay marriage, which I agreed with them on, to getting us to question whether someone with a Y-chromosome is a male or not, and whether I’m a bigot for calling someone with a penis a dude. This is crazy. And a lot of people seem happy to vote for this crazy.

Why can’t this work for us? My instinct tells me it won’t work. But why? The left seems to be succeeding in wildly changing the culture. Is it because they control social media? Is it Google? What it is? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have shit to do with reason and debate.

Politics 101

Some people need to hear it:

I find some of the responses here disturbing. Look, sure, you want to elect people who agree with you 100%. But it’s hard to get a majority that way. The Dems took the House by running centrist (or centrist-appearing) candidates who could win in close districts. You’re not going to win a seat Ed Markey holds with a Ted Cruz, or Tim Scott. But somebody who caucuses with you and votes with you most of the time is better than someone who caucuses with the other side and votes with them all of the time. And just by running someone you make the Dems defend what would otherwise be safe seats, leaving them fewer resources to go after others. This is Politics 101 and it works.

There are limits, of course, but this is truth. Culturally, the whole Boston to DC Acela Corridor is a monoculture dominated by New York City, which has traditionally concerned itself with suppressing the rabble so the Right Kind of People can run things and make money. But we’ve also seen the spread of New England Puritanism through the Acela Corridor.

In the 21st century the modern day Puritans have pretty much given up dour protestantism and have instead adopted dour state worship as their purifying religion. They’ve even brought back witch hunting! But we’re oh so sophisticated about it these days.

But it doesn’t change the fact that you won’t win a Massachusetts Senate seat with Ted Cruz. What you need to capitalize on is that no one fucking likes witch hunting Puritans, no matter what religion they have adopted for themselves.

He’s Right, You Know: Gun Control Aimed at Shooters

Pick off the most enthusiastic, and you’ll be rid of your deplorable gun culture in a generation. That’s what gun control is intended to do. It has nothing at all to do with reducing crime or fighting “gun violence.” Does this lawmaker seriously want us to believe she has evidence that criminals are going through large volumes of ammunition, and that a tax on ammo will help? J. KB is absolutely right: this is intended to discourage target shooting. Someone should ask her who drafted her bill, because lawmakers almost never draft their own bills. Bills are almost universally drafted by staff with the help of lobbyists. Who’s paying the lobbyists that helped her staff? I can give you one guess.

Significant Win in Federal District Court

Adam Kraut and Josh Prince have won a pretty significant as-applied 2nd Amendment case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Yes, you can lose your right to bear arms for traffic offenses. Someone I know at my club was just telling me the other week that he got arrested for drag racing as a teenager, along with a friend of his that he still keeps in touch with. His parents hired a lawyer and got the case against him dropped, but his friend plead, and has since been prohibited from possessing firearms. Apparently drag racing used to me a 1st-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, which has a potential jail sentence of 5 years, even though his friend never spent a day in jail. In the case just won, the guy got busted for faking an exemption form for tinted windows.

This kind of thing happens more often than you think. The Gun Control Act prescribed a one-size-fits all solution, even though individual states have a lot of variation on what the maximum sentence is for misdemeanor offenses. It’s good to see the courts finally taking this seriously and willing to entertain as-applied challenges, and strike down applications of the Gun Control Act’s prohibitions with regards to non-violent offenses.

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