Far be it for the little ol’ gun guy to question the creds or experience of political activists like Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler, but every once in a while, even the self-appointed gurus of the Left get it wrong. And not just a little bit wrong. Completely and totally wrong.
Actually, the Third Way group isn’t really Left, they are…gee, I’m not sure what they are. But they certainly aren’t on the alt-right/white. And they certainly believe that their ‘high-impact advocacy campaigns’ will help liberals figure out what to say and what to do about the important issues of the day. And with all those Parkland kids marching around, what could be more important than gun control today?
What Kessler and Cowan have come up with is the idea that the NRA has never been as panicked as it is right now, that the future for America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ is even more dim, and that the boys from Fairfax are “the most vulnerable they’ve been” in the combined 50 years that the authors of this piece have been “battling” the NRA.
There’s only one little problem. All the facts used to bolster their narrative are true (remember, Third Way is a ‘think tank’ so they only base their arguments on real facts) but these facts are mostly besides the point. Yes, the NRA has lost some contests at the ballot box; yes, their rural base is shrinking; yes, their advocacy magazine has ‘only’ 650,000 subscribers; yes, they joined the rest of the alt-right/white in demonizing the Parkland kids.
But here are some facts that Cowan and Kessler didn’t mention, and the reason they didn’t mention these facts is that for all their combined 50 years of battling Gun-nut Nation, these two guys don’t really know anything about gun-rights organization and they certainly don’t know anything about guns. Which happen to be typical among members of the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement, but since these groups only talk to each other, this lack of knowledge and experience makes no difference at all.
I subscribe to the American Rifleman which, along with American Hunter, are the two NRA magazines which Cowan and Kessler believe aren’t read by the gun-activist crowd. This only proves that neither of them has ever bothered to look at Rifleman or Hunter because they would discover that both contain countless advocacy and activist content, it’s basically the advertising which appeals to a different readership, not what the editorials say. True, the rural base is shrinking and this could affect the electoral landscape after 2022. But what do Cowan and Kessler have to say about the upsurge in concealed-carry (CCW) licenses, most of which are issued to people living in the burbs? Finally, Stinchfield did some Gonzalez-bashing on his NRA television show, but did the NRA say anything after Parkland which remotely resembled Wayne-o’s crazy rant a week after Sandy Hook?
Let me break it gently to Cowan and Kessler: In 1960 Gallup asked Americans how they felt about a ban on handgun ownership. Not restrictive licensing or more regulations – an absolute ban. And 60% of the respondents said it would be a good idea. Know what that number fell to last year? Less than 25 percent!
The fact is (note the use of the word ‘fact’) that a majority of Americans believe that keeping a gun in the home is more a benefit than a risk. And since less than 40% of American homes contain a legal gun, obviously the majority who believe in the positive social utility of personally-owned weapons includes many people who don’t own guns.
This dramatic shift in how we think about guns isn’t the handiwork of the NRA. It’s a function of how American society has evolved and what America thinks and believes about violence, crime and serlf-defense. Until and unless organizations like Third Way acknowledge and understand what this means, casting the NRA as the bogey-man preventing gun control won’t accomplish a thing.