So now that Democrats no longer have to fear that talking about gun control is a big no-no on the campaign trail, how will Gun-nut Nation respond? For the last twenty-five years, the alliance between the GOP and the 2nd-Amendment gang held firm, and with the exception of a few Congressional seats in Communist states like California and New York, all a politician needed to do was wave the ‘don’t tread on me’ flag as regards gun ‘rights’ and the issue would disappear.
Thanks to some serious spending, the media spotlight grabbed by the Parkland kids and some overreach by various pro-gun Congressional candidates, the case can probably be made that the ability of the blue team to wrest control of the lower chamber of Congress certainly wasn’t hurt by a more aggressive gun-control pitch in many swing districts and might have even helped.
So the question which now looms for 2020, particularly in key swing states whose votes will probably determine whether or not we have to put up with that schmuck for four more years, is this: How does Gun-nut Nation move the needle back to the center-right or at least the center of the gauge which measures the respective strength of the two sides in the gun debate?
For the last twenty-five years, the gun-nut noise machine has promoted itself through a combination of patriotism (2nd-Amendment ‘rights,’) and protection from crime (concealed-carry and stand your ground.) But what made the NRA appear to be such a fearsome political opponent was the simple fact that there was basically no opposition from the other side. Occasionally there would be a break-through, like the Million Moms March put together by our friend Donna Dees Thomases in 2000, but by and large the pro-gun narrative went unchallenged in most parts of the country, even in places where a majority of voters didn’t own guns.
Without doubt, Sandy Hook was a watershed event, because out of the tragedy of senseless violence emerged a true, national, grass-roots effort funded primarily by Mike Bloomberg and his friends, and organized by a little lady from Indianapolis named Shannon Watts. For the first time the pro-gun narrative was countered by a gun-control argument which continues to shape the entire gun debate, namely, that you just can’t justify 35,000 or more fatal shootings each year as representing some kind of support for ‘civil rights.’ Sorry, but the argument just doesn’t work, particularly when, every once in a while, some of those 35,000 victims happen to be kids sitting inside a school.
So what do you do if the health and welfare of your particular industry depends on whether the average, law-abiding American consumer can still have more or less free access to the products on whose sale your industry depends? You come up with a way to argue the issue which may or may not have any connection to reality at all.
What caught my eye in this respect was an op-ed in The Daily Mississippian, ‘The Truth About Guns,’ whose author approaches the subject without even the slightest concern for the relevant facts. Here’s the formative statement: “States like Illinois and California have implemented increasingly strict laws against gun ownership, but numbers of gun deaths per capita in those states is significantly higher than in places like Mississippi, where permits are not required in order to own firearms.”
Ready? The gun-violence rate in California from 2010 to 2016 was 7.92, in Illinois it was 9.29. In Mississippi, the rate was 18.15. This op-ed was published in the student newspaper on the campus of Ole Miss, so we shouldn’t expecting the editorial staff to operate as if they are running The New York Times.
But I have a funny feeling that this is the kind of narrative, devoid of even the slightest concern for facts, which is how Gun-nut Nation will define its side of the 2020 gun debate. After all, the guy who’s still heading the GOP ticket wouldn’t know a fact if it hit him in the face.