Back in February after the Parkland shooting, I figured there would be some upsurge in gun-control advocacy and activity, if only because there’s always some increase in concern about gun violence after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day. I also assumed that the public outcry for more gun control would last a few months and then go away. Because that’s what always happened after a lot of people get shot in the same place on the same day.
I was wrong. The Parkland ‘kids,’ as they came to be known, started showing up here and there; the media began following them around, some of the real idiots in Gun-nut Nation ratcheted up the noise by accusing Hamm and Gonzalez of being dupes for the International Socialist Conspiracy to take away our guns and the beat went on.
By the summer, the debate about guns and gun violence began to morph into the political campaigns of both the red and blue teams, and I started receiving the daily emails from both sides asking for money because either I would vote blue and keep us from going around killing ourselves, or I would vote red and keep the 2nd Amendment alive.
I have been following politics since the Kennedy-Nixon race in 1960, and I have also been involved in the gun business since roughly the same time. This was the first election in which the narrative about guns not only was used to define the political stance of both parties, but was being used as an effective wedge issue in political contests that might decide whether the Congress stays red or goes blue.
Obviously, nobody knows how things will end up when the dust settles and the smoke clears, but I never imagined that I would ever see the headline that I saw today in The [‘failing’] New York Times: “Bearing F’s From the N.R.A., Some Democrats Are Openly Campaigning on Guns.” Now the Times isn’t talking about political contests in liberal states like California or New York. The story concerns three campaigns in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Iowa, where gun control may be the issue that swings the vote in all three CD’s. I am sure that none of the red candidates in those districts ever believed that getting a good rating from the NRA might be the last thing they would need. But somehow, this year may turn out to be different.
And what makes me suspect that there’s a new culture emerging about guns is represented by the contents of two magazines I received this week. I have been subscribing to Time Magazine out of force of habit for at least 30 years. When I first started getting it, this flagship Luce publication was considered the sine qua non of politics for the respectable Right. The content has gradually moved more to the middle, but nobody would accuse Time of slavishly following the Bloomberg-Soros line. From the remarkable cover through the interviews and brief memoirs, this week’s issue is all about guns. The content is balanced and fair, but it’s no ringing endorsement for Gun-nut Nation’s cherished beliefs.
More remarkably was the latest issue of People Magazine that floated in the other day. The issue contains a section entitled: “25 Women Changing the World,’ and the headliner is none other than our friend Shannon Watts, who graces a two-page photo of herself and some members of her organization, along with a commentary about the importance of getting politically involved.
When the editors of People Magazine decide that Shannon Watts is their exemplar for change, then something very definite and different is going on. I’m not saying that the content of Time or People will necessarily tilt the election in favor of the blue team; I’m saying that gun violence is no longer a marginal issue that public figures would rather avoid. And I believe that once the discussion gets into the mainstream, the American people will do the right thing.