Which Republican Will Win The Concealed-Carry Vote?

I haven’t yet had time to listen to the speeches delivered at the just-concluded NRA meeting in Indianapolis, but within the next few days they will probably be posted by the NRA.  I won’t bother to listen to Palin and Oliver North because they are just show up for a speaker’s fee, but I will pay attention to Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, because this trio are prominently mentioned as potential Republican standard-bearers in 2016.  I did find a report on Rick Santorum’s speech on a CNN blog, which quoted him as saying that he was in complete agreement with the NRA as regards using guns to protect all of us from crime.  In fact, Santorum came up with a catchy little phrase which I suspect he’ll trot out a few more times before the election really begins to take shape.  At the NRA show and again on a Sunday television interview he said, “a well-armed family is a safe family, a well-armed America is a safer America.”

Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

And if you want to know who all these well-armed Americans are protecting us from, a complete list was furnished the NRA audience by America’s chief crime-fighter, Wayne LaPierre, who painted this portrait of a society on the edge of chaos and collapse because the following people are running around: “terrorists, home invaders, drug cartels, car jackers, ‘knock-out’ gamers, rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse as a society that sustains us all.”

I can’t think of a more effective way to stop chemical attacks or the spread of the plague than a loaded .38 on my night-table or an assault rifle propped up behind the front door.  Okay, so Wayne-o is given to a bit of hyperbole when he gets up in front of the faithful, and he knows he won’t get air-time unless he says something that’s just a little bit beyond belief.  The only problem is that the NRA is staking out such an extreme position that to wind up as the most pro-gun candidate in a field of pro-gun candidates is to push yourself so far to the edge that there’s no way to go but down.

At one point LaPierre rhetorically asked the audience whether they would trust the government to protect them and of course the answer was a resounding ‘no.’  But while the NRA only ramps up its anti-government rhetoric when the government happens to be controlled by the Democrats, the notion that we all have to walk around with guns because, as LaPierre says, “we’re on our own” in facing this terrible, crime-ridden world, cuts both ways.  The truth is that if you get elected President, the first thing you have to do before moving into the White House is to take an oath in which you promise to defend America against its enemies.  What’s Santorum going to do if he’s standing there with his hand on the Bible? Ask Wayne LaPierre to serve as Secretary of Defense?

The NRA’s been able to grow its membership and flex its political muscle for one reason and one reason only: there’s a very liberal, very progressive politician sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who doesn’t buy the argument that walking around with a concealed weapon makes you safe.  Even if the NRA could produce a legitimate study that showed this to be the case, which they haven’t, by the way, it probably wouldn’t change Obama’s mind anyway.  But Obama’s out of here in slightly more than 28 months, and we could wind up with a President who really does believe that the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center could have been shot out of the sky if someone in one of the twin towers had been armed with a gun.  Which will make it rather difficult for the NRA to pretend that we need to arm and protect ourselves because the government isn’t up to the job.

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Gun Violence: Let’s Stop Researching And Start Yelling, Or At Least Talking

Chantilly, VA gun show

Chantilly, VA gun show

You may have noticed in my last several blogs that I am dismayed by the extent to which the pro-gun crowd completely owns the public debate about guns.  They get their message out endlessly and continuously, and they get it out regardless of whether anything they say is true or not.  If you think I’m over-stating the case, take a look at the recent analysis of Emily Miller’s pro-gun book by Media Matters.  Miller is the latest in a long line of NRA sycophants who masquerade as “objective” journalists or researchers, but in reality just parrot the NRA-NSSF  line.

So Miller publishes a book promoting the idea that women should buy and carry guns.  And she’s immediately interviewed by CNN and Politico who allow her to make false statement after false statement without the slightest attempt to push back or discern whether what she’s saying is actually true.  And the reason she published the book?  Because while sales of small, concealable handguns have created a new market for gun manufacturers over the past decade, the increase in female ownership of guns has lagged far behind.  And the truth is, that with the percentage of families that actually own guns decreasing, the only way that sales can continue strong is to find new sales opportunities within existing gun-owning families, women over 21 being the most underrepresented group.  Want an example?  Take a look at the photo at the top of this blog.  It’s a gun show in Chantilly Virginia and if you want a larger view just click the last-cited link. Or just take my word for it that of the 20 or so customers lined up in front of the tables, every single one is a man.

So the NRA relentlessly pushes its agenda without regards to facts.  And who can blame them?  After all, their job is to help the gun industry sell guns.  They may promote themselves as a training organization, as a public-interest lobby, as a charitable and educational effort, but they don’t operate, shall we say, for the common good.  They are basically a marketing group, and they have developed a very successful marketing campaign.

It’s particularly successful because they’re up against nobody on the other side.  When was the last time you heard of the Brady Campaign doing anything besides sending their lobbyists up to Capitol Hill?  And Brady’s the best of them.  Everyone else in the gun control camp is busily hacking away at this piece of research or that which they read to each other and then basically throw away.  In the last two weeks alone gun control scholars have issued several serious and detailed reports about the link between gun ownership and violence.  One report came out of the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, the other led by medical researchers at NYU.  Both reports added additional evidence to support the idea that maybe, just maybe, there’s a link between 250 million guns floating around and high rates of violence with guns.  Both reports received the usual, 30-second mention in various liberal media outlets and blogs.  Both reports went no further than that.

Had these reports been issued before Newtown and the Navy Yard the NRA would have immediately dispatched one of its academic hirelings to refute them in detail.  This time around these reports were ignored.  At the same time that these reports were issued, Emily Miller was hosting a book-publishing party in Washington, complete with accolades from Rick Perry, Ted Nugent and Donald Trump.  There’s no longer a give-and-take between the pro-gun and the anti-gun crowd.  There’s a pro-gun crowd out there celebrating success after success and a pathetic group of gun control researchers talking to themselves.

Anyone ever hear of a group called the Violence Policy Center?  They have published a remarkable series of studies about gun violence, all of which are available for everyone to read.  The studies are meticulous, detailed and true.  And I’m willing to bet you that there’s not a single person reading my blog who’s ever read one of these reports.  But why should you bother?  After all, you’re not in the business of academic research.  Going to a book-publishing party would always be more fun.