If I had a nickel for everyone who has predicted the demise of the NRA since the national meeting back in April, I wouldn’t have to go out today and watch a bunch of cops try to hit the broad side of the barn with the guns they haven’t cleaned since the last time they tried to punch some holes through the broad side of the barn. And until last week, between closing down their video network and stumbling through a lawsuit against their own advertising agency, there was every good reason to believe that Wayne-o and the boys from Fairfax were just hanging onto the ropes, if not down for the count.
That was then, this is now. And now happens to be what took place at the State House in Richmond, VA where America’s ‘first civil rights organization’ demonstrated that any thoughts about their impending demise might be a bit immature.
Let’s not forget that in June there was a really bad mass shooting at Virginia Beach. And let’s also not forget that it wasn’t all that hard for gun-control groups to show up at Richmond in force because Virginia’s capitol city is less than 100 miles from Washington, D.C. But what we also shouldn’t forget is that once you leave the affluent, liberal-minded DC suburbs of Virginia and travel through the hinterland, you’re in the old South, and the old South still has folks who own lots of guns.
The gun-control proposals promoted by a Democratic Governor who is up for re-election, included the usual comprehensive background checks and regulating assault rifles and hi-cap mags, along with a law that would have re-instated a 30-day waiting period between the purchase of handguns. And while the Democrats control the Executive Mansion at the moment, the legislature is still in GOP hands. Which means that Governor Northam’s proposals went nowhere fast. Zilch. Finished.
The NRA‘s strategy to defeat the gun bill was the group’s usual concoction of anti-crime rhetoric combined with support for 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Here was their post-session statement: “We commend the House and Senate Republican leadership for renewing the focus on putting violent criminals behind bars and a much needed refocus on mental health initiatives. The discussion before the Virginia Crime Commission should focus on solutions that provide strong due process and put a stop to the continued politicization of law-abiding individual’s constitutional rights.”
In other words, gun violence is caused by criminals and nuts, not by lawful gun owners exercising their Constitutional ‘rights.’ And this happens to be a very powerful argument, given the fact that a majority of Americans not only believe that violent crime is always and has always been on the rise, but that having access to a gun is a foolproof solution to the problem of crime.
Yesterday I was up in New Hampshire and drove through Swanzey, which is one of those old, red-brick factory towns which saw its best years sometime before World War II. The local propane dealer had a sign offering a starting salary of $55,000 for someone to make home deliveries – you can rent a nice, one-bedroom in the next town for $700 a month.
These are the kind of guys who can and do walk into a gun shop any time they want, plunk down five or six hundred bucks and walk out with another gun. And while they may have heard something about problems at the NRA with Wayne-o outfitting himself at Zegna or Chris Cox opening his own lobbying firm, it’s my friends in Gun-control Nation who pay attention to such headlines; those gun guys couldn’t care less.
On the other hand, those gun guys vote and they have actually met their local government reps at the annual Knights of Columbus bar-b-que or at the gun show held up the road every few months. Until and unless my friends in Gun-control Nation figure out how to communicate with those guys, what happened in Richmond last week will continue to happen in other places as well.