NBC has a rather motivating article about how, despite the best efforts of the gun control crowd, pretty much nobody cares about the subject.
The pro-gun-rights side has raised more money, gained more members (Gifford’s ARS gained about half a million new members post-Newtown, while the NRA gained twice that and now has over 5 million members), and has more of a presence in government (a 9-1 spending advantage in Washington). The NRA alone has over 3x the number of members of “The Big Three” gun control groups combined: ARS, The Brady Campaign, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Amusingly enough, NBC says that the post-Newtown push for gun control doubled the membership in the Brady Campaign and MAIG — this only goes to show how small those groups actually are and how little grassroots support they have.
NBC talks about this situation and its historical precedence:
Such lopsided growth mirrors what happened after the Columbine massacre. The Senate failed to pass a bill requiring universal background checks, among other popular reforms, and the gun control movement was swallowed by a wave of gun rights activism. It spent the next decade in the wilderness, starved of funding and support as the NRA won victory after victory.
This time?after the failure of a similar background check bill in April, and the recall of two pro-reform politicians in Colorado last month?the mission has narrowed to a single overarching goal: maintain the momentum. ?It?s like a sugar rush,? says Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign, of the cycle of public concern after a major shooting. ?It seems like we have intensity?there?s sympathy, there?s outrage?but that intensity proves to be transitory.?
Later, Mr. Gross attempts to explain the lack of intensity thusly, “Common sense is not an intense emotion.” Of course, he assumes that his proposals are “common sense” and would actually do something to reduce violent crime, stop deranged madmen, and somehow preserve the rights of law-abiding people (though there’s no real evidence that he supports those rights).
Clearly, not many people agree with him.
NBC points out this lack of grassroots support for the anti-gun-rights side when they say,
But this seemingly unbeatable political coalition?three deep-pocketed groups, allied with a sitting president, seemingly aligned with a huge majority of Americans?enters the fall on a low ebb that seemed unimaginable just a few months ago. ?It?s not important enough, sadly,? says Johnathan Abbinett, 60, a founding member of the Nevada chapter of Americans for Responsible [S]olutions. His chapter colleague Christian Gerlach, 26, isn?t even sure the chapter exists any more. ?I only went to that first meeting,? he says, before changing the subject.
Both ARS and MAIG ran extensive nationwide tours over the summer: ARS visited 7 states, while MAIG went to 25 states in 100 days. The results were somewhat disappointing for the anti-gun people:
But the results of both tours were mixed at best. In state after state, major politicians ducked Giffords and Kelly, despite (or perhaps because of) ample advance notice of their arrival.? In Alaska, Mark Begich, one of four Democrats who voted against closing the gun show loophole, was said to be vacationing on an island without cell service when the tour arrived. In North Dakota, ?friends in the NRA? forced a last minute venue change, according to a Team Giffords advance man, who himself declined to be named for fear of mixing with gun-grabbers from Washington. And when members of MAIG arrived in Fargo, the mayor told them that guns were not a problem.
The grassroots side of the campaign struggled as well. At a MAIG event in Columbus, Ohio, the Buckeye Firearms Association organized a counter rally that drew twice the crowd.? In Raleigh, N.C., when Giffords passed through, a gun blogger turned out two-dozen people shaking green signs that read: Guns Save Lives. But perhaps the most dramatic scenes were in Manchester and Dover, N.H., where protesters arrived ?full battle rattle,? as one man noted on a Facebook page for the counter-protest, toting guns?including an AR-15?and forcing Giffords out a back exit after her speech. The same week, Mayors Against Illegal Guns made its own campaign stop in the state, where police subdued one pro-gun activist with a taser and dispersed the crowd.
With the exception of the pro-gun activist being disruptive and getting tased, that sounds like a bunch of pretty solid wins for our side. I’m not familiar with the details of the “full battle rattle” folks in Dover, but I’m not so keen on firearms being openly displayed for political purposes at such events (concealed, yes, openly used for political purposes, no). Still, overall things sounded pretty good for our side.
NBC shows an interesting bit of insight with this bit,
To make the world safer, the gun control lobby wants fewer guns in the hands of bad guys. The pro-gun side supports the same goal. But it also wants more guns in the hands of the good guys, believing that a bullet is the best way to stop the next unfolding national tragedy. ?Both sides think the other is crazy and dangerous, but only the pro-gun side seems to have supporters who are passionate enough to focus on almost nothing else.
They’re right — the pro-gun side does want fewer guns in the hands of bad guys (our objectives should be the same, though our methods of accomplishing those objectives differ) — but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the pro-gun-rights side “focus[es] on almost nothing else”, rather that we’re more personally invested.
Why? Owning a gun is not something to be taken lightly, and gun owners are often fairly active with the shooting sports, competitions, hunting, training, etc. We’ll meet up with friends at the range, go to the SHOT Show, show off our groupings online, setup individual blogs not sponsored by some larger organization, discuss gear, techniques, or events, shop for parts and accessories, and so on. For many, owning a gun is part of their lifestyle and they’ll vehemently defend against potential infringements. Although pro-gun-rights people come from different walks of life, different cultural backgrounds, live in different places, have different political views, etc., we share a common, unifying thing that helps bind the community together and helps us overcome our differences.
The anti-gun-rights people don’t really have that same level of involvement in the issue — it’s hard to drum up passion for something that’s not an active part of their lifestyle, involving an item that they don’t own and often have little experience with, and which doesn’t really involve the type of social activities that bring them together.
Although anti-gun-rights people often blame the “NRA” or the shady “gun lobby” for their failures, and to some extent they’re right, I think the real reason we keep winning is because we actually have a large, diverse, and passionate grassroots that they lack. It’s fantastic to see ad hoc, unorganized, unfunded gatherings of pro-gun-rights people bring out double the number of anti-gun-rights people attending scheduled, announced events like those that ARS and MAIG arranged.
Still, we need to keep in mind that while anti-gun-rights people are our opponents in the political realm, they’re still Americans and still people who, while we may disagree with them, still deserve civility and respect. Mockery and hostility is always counterproductive. Many have no connection with or understanding of the gun culture and those involved with it. Some have personal connections with gun-related tragedies that motivate them. We should strive to understand and accept their reasons, positions, and motivations, and to work with those who are willing toward meaningful solutions that reduce violent crime, protect people and their rights, and generally improve the lives of everyone. After all, we all want to live in a world without violent crime.
NBC closes the article as follows,
Even before Washington shutdown, the Big Three had almost no hard events on the calendar for October, and sparse calls to action compared to earlier in the year. Each organization will mark the Newtown anniversary in December, but how, exactly, they aren?t ready to say. And a similar sense of hiatus pervades activists on the front lines. None of those contacted were willing to rank gun control as their top concern, or even something they were still working on, not with marriage equality, immigration reform, health care, and poverty crowding the mind.
If there were another vote in Congress, [Beverly] Moffet [a retired judge in Columbus, Ohio, and a supporter of Americans for Responsible Solutions] added, ?I think people would turn out for it.?
Until then, however, she doesn?t see the point.
Excellent. We need to keep the pressure on, both in Washington, in the state legislatures, and in the public eye: gun control isn’t the solution and, while we oppose infringements on our rights, we still want to reduce violent crime and will work for realistic, practical improvements that will make a difference and preserve people’s rights.
If we can keep up the pressure, continue to present a good public image (*looks pointedly at people pushing rifle open carry*), bring new shooters into the fold, vote, contact and work with the legislature, move some key cases through the courts, and not put our feet in our collective mouths, I think we can make some good improvements for our cause like national CCW reciprocity, overturning various onerous laws like state-level AWBs, registration, licensing, etc., getting more states switching to a shall-issue CCW model, and so on.
We’re in a great position now and have a lot of advantages. Let’s try not to screw this one up.