Yesterday I attended a jam-packed meeting of the MOMs group and listened to speakers who delivered moving testimonies about how their lives were affected by the violence caused by guns. Along with those presentations, the Chapter leader also spoke about achievements of the past year as well as what lies ahead. And this part of the meeting was quite upbeat, particularly when the audience was reminded about the new #gunsense majority which now controls the House.
But before my friends in Gun-control Nation decide that the tide has finally turned, I think they need to step back a bit and consider the possibility that their new-found success might turn out to be less than what it appears. I’m not saying that because I want my gun-control friends to fail. To the contrary, we must find a way to stop suffering from behaviors which result in more than 125,000 deaths and serious injuries every year. We must. But it’s not going to happen until and unless Gun-control Nation truly understands what they are up against, and I’m not sure they do.
Ask the average gun-sense advocate why it’s so difficult to pass laws whose purpose is to control gun violence while still allowing Americans to own guns, and the answer you’ll get every time is one variation or another on those ‘bad people’ who run the NRA. I heard this again and again at the MOMS meeting and I see it on every #gunsense website – among Gun-control Nation it is simply assumed without question that the NRA is the ‘enemy’ and that the NRA’s power and financial influence needs to be stopped or at least curtailed.
There’s only one little problem. The NRA operates very much like the AAA; the latter provides services for people who own cars, the former provides services for people who own guns. You might think the NRA spends its time and money lambasting tree-huggers and gun-control liberals in the public square, but a quick glance at how the boys in Fairfax spend their money shows this not to be true. For every buck the NRA dishes out to its legislative allies in Congress, it spends two bucks on the care and feeding of its own members, somewhere close to $200 million a year.
The NRA claims around 5 million dues-paying members, maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But the organization’s real strength is that they speak not just for their membership, but for everyone who owns a gun. Yea, yea, I know the gun-control groups claim to be enrolling all those ‘reasonable’ gun owners to support their ‘sensible’ demands. I also claim to have stayed on my diet during the Super Bowl.
Want to know what’s really going on in Gun-nut Nation? Take a look at NICS-FBI background check numbers which have just been compiled for 2018. I not only looked at those numbers but I compared 2018 to every year back to 2001, and this is what I found. In 2001, the number of new and used guns that were transferred across the counter of guns shops was 7.1 million, in 2018 it was 11.5 million, an increase of more than 50 percent. How much has the U.S. population increased over that same period of time? 16 percent. Here’s a little graph which shows the per-capita trend of background checks over the last twenty years:
The great jump occurred in 2013, the year after Sandy Hook, when Obama tried, without success, to push through a gun-control bill. And while the background check numbers have fallen off over the last several years, they are still running nearly 60% higher than during the mid-years of Bush #43. And remember who’s sitting in the Oval Office – the gun owner’s best friend.
My friends in Gun-control Nation are certainly entitled to celebrate their growing effectiveness and strength; I saw it first-hand at the meeting of MOMS. But don’t forget – there are still plenty of Americans who believe in the importance and value of their guns.