I have been involved in the gun business since 1965, which is longer than most of the people have been alive who follow me here and on Huffington Post. And that is because in 1965 I went down to North Carolina to work for my great-Uncle Ben who owned something called the Imperial Metal Products Co., where he manufactured a little 22-caliber revolver called the IMP. The gun held five rounds but the effective capacity was far less, because by the third shot either the 2-inch barrel would fall off or the cylinder would crack in half. This Saturday Night Special sold for about thirty bucks in pawn shops all over the South, and when GCA68 ended Ben’s life as a gun maker he became the Smith & Wesson law enforcement distributor for North Carolina and sold plenty of better-made revolvers to the cops.
So there’s very little about guns and the gun business that I don’t know, and in that regard when I say that the GVP movement is soon going to eclipse the NRA, it’s not a feeling based just on hope or whimsy, it reflects what I have seen and heard over the past fifty years. The truth is that when it comes to guns as an issue of public safety, until the last couple of years the NRA had the playing field all to itself. Every once in a great while there would be a little public dust-up, like after good ol’ Charlie Whitman climbed the Texas Tower in 1966 and killed or wounded more than 45 people in a 90-minute spree. Or again in 1969 when the cops and the Black Panthers in Los Angeles exchanged several thousand rounds of gunfire from which, unbelievably, no one was killed. But the deliberations leading up to GCA68 hardly, if ever made front-page news, and even the gun bills passed by Clinton in 1994 were hardly front-page stories except perhaps on the day of the votes.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the NRA is a paper tiger that will roll over and play dead every time a new GVP initiative comes down the line. To the contrary, since the mid-90’s the gun gang has scored some notable victories, in particular a rewriting of CCW laws in nearly every state, a law gagging doctors in Florida and three other states, and a public mood shift towards more support for 2nd Amendment rights. And of course let’s not forget the biggest victory of all, namely the 2008 Heller decision by gun-nut Scalia which says that the 2nd Amendment protects private ownership of guns once and for all.
Notwithstanding the above, I still believe that the GVP’s time has come. First, anyone who pretends that GVP is not a strong, widespread and growing grassroots movement is either a pro-gun sycophantic noisemaker paid to say otherwise, or is blind, deaf and dumb. And let’s not forget that much of the GVP organizational activity has only been spurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook. Second, for the first time in all time we have a national Presidential candidate who is not only calling for a national GVP movement, but promises to lead it if she is elected in 2016. And let’s not forget the remarkable GVP ads that ran yesterday during NBA games. Nothing the NRA will ever push out on its silly video channel will ever achieve even a fraction of the audience that heard Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul.
Last week the NRA put out a statement reminding its members that Obama, Hillary, The New York Times and every other liberal politician and publication is basically anti-gun. They have been running this same message for the last twenty years. But often there hasn’t been much of a response from the other side. For the first time in my 50 years of watching the gun industry, the GVP message is loud, continuous and clear. And it’s going to get louder, of that I’m sure.