Back in April, 2016 when D.D.D. Trump showed up at the NRA meeting and was endorsed by America’s ‘first civil rights organization,’ a lot of folks in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement began to think that if the worst of all possible worlds happened and Schmuck-o Trump actually became President, their efforts to reduce gun violence might come to a crashing halt. Because it’s one thing to have a President who is ‘pro-gun’ just because every Republican politician is pro-gun; it’s another to have a President who builds an entire political campaign out of being pro-gun.
But it now appears that not only has the presence of D.D.D. Trump in the White House provoked a resurgence of GVP activity, along with significant political gains, but more important there has been a growth in the number and type of GVP organizations which did not exist a year or even six months before. Part of this new GVP wave is due, of course, to the kids from Parkland, make no mistake about that. But I am seeing something much deeper and wider than just a response to the mass shootings; I am seeing what appears to be a significant social and cultural change.
How do you explain the fact that a billboard telling Christians to support gun control has just gone up in a North Carolina county that gave Trump-o 55% of the vote? Now granted, the group which paid for this – the North Carolina Council of Churches – has always been a liberal voice among religious groups. But they didn’t run a roadside message like this after Sandy Hook, and evidently this billboard is going to be placed in other locations throughout the Tar Heel state.
When the groundswell first started after Parkland, the immediate response of the gun-rights noisemakers was to dismiss the entire effort as just another example of how the gun-grabbing elitists were ‘using’ kids like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez to promote their own, nefarious aims. And in previous pro-gun, anti-gun contests, selling the idea that the liberal elite was trying to deny average Americans the ‘right’ to defend themselves was an argument that usually worked. But this is different. You can argue with Bloomberg, you can argue with Soros, but it’s not all that easy to argue with Jesus Christ.
Over the years, much of the so-called strength of the pro-gun movement has been explained as not reflecting the size of their movement per se, but the degree of energy and commitment that promotes their cause. Again and again, public surveys find that gun owners are much more likely to engage in political activity about regulating guns than advocates from the gun-control side. But when outfits like Delta, United, Avis, Hertz and the bank which was issuing NRA credit cards all cut their ties to the Fairfax boys, this sends a much more powerful message than some jerk-off ‘good guy’ who sends a snarky or profane email to a Facebook page promoting more regulation of guns.
How much of the new-found GVP effort is tied directly or indirectly to the growing disillusionment and disgust with Trump? Just as nobody was willing to imagine or predict that Schmuck-o would win the election, so nobody ever imagined that his behavior since moving into the Oval Office could provoke such an anti-Trump storm. But the good news about building a political movement is that it’s always easier to attack than defend, something which the pro-Trump collective is now realizing in spades.
Take a look at the new gun law that just went into effect in Vermont. This law takes Vermont from the least to one of the most regulated of all 50 states, and it was signed by a Republican governor who, until last week, was rated an ‘A’ by the NRA. Vermont has an active and energetic gun-rights group, some of whom showed up to heckle Governor Scott as he signed the gun bill. Guess what? The ‘good guys’ lost a big one and the virus may spread.