I’ve just returned from the SHOT Show in Las Vegas where every kind of gun or gun accessory was on display. I didn’t see all of it because the show only lasts four days and it’s not possible to see it all in that short a time. Besides, one of my days was spent in the Glock Armorer’s class to renew my factory certified armorer’s certificate with the great Dennis Tueller (of “Tueller Drill” fame) as instructor.
These past fews days have caused me to reflect on gun rights today and where we were just ten years ago. In 2001 the Clinton gun ban was still in effect, the Colorado CCW law had been killed in 1999 just as it was ready to go the governor for signature, as a result of Columbine. I lost a good friend over Columbine, not because he was a victim of the madmen who shot up the school but because he became an hysterical anti-gun sort who blamed all gun owners, including me, for the acts of two evil and depraved teenagers. I think that sort of thing was happening in a lot of places. Friendships destroyed over political nonsense.
Since then the Clinton gun ban was allowed to expire in 2003. Colorado got its CCW law enacted in 2003. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court settled the long-standing argument over whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms by holding that it does (Heller v. District of Columbia). Two years later the court held that the Second Amendment is incorporated by the 14th Amendment and applies to the States (McDonald v. Chicago). It would be hard to overstate how these two cases have changed the conversation on gun rights in America. It’s now respectable to say you are a supporter of gun rights, that gun rights are a good thing, and that owning a gun can make a lot of sense for a lot of people. Gun sales have gone through the roof (that’s one reason the SHOT show has got so big) and crime has continue to go down. Widespread gun ownership and gun knowledge is not such a good thing for criminals.
When Barack Obama appeared on the verge of being elected to the Presidency an electric shock went through the world of gun enthusiasts. No friend of guns or gun owners, it was feared that Obama would try to institute new Clinton-style gun bans. The execrable Frank Lautenberg was back in the Senate licking his chops, and Long Island Representative Carolyn McCarthy was in high key for a bunch of new gun restrictions. California Senator Dianne Feinstein and New York’s Chuck You Shumer stood in the ready to take up the fight. But the political climate had changed. No new restrictions of any significance were passed and, lo and behold, the gun restriction in National Parks was lifted.
The Brady Campaign seems not to have noticed this and keeps up their efforts to outlaw guns but they don’t have any juice with enough politicians anymore. The politicians just got tired of losing elections over the gun issue, I think. In fact, some Democrats have clearly got the message and come out in support of gun owners. Witness the complete collapse of the efforts of a few liberals to try to capitalize on the Arizona shooting to get new gun laws enacted.
This is no time to get overconfident but even such lefty websites as The Huffington Puffington Post seem to have a new attitude. A current post on that site by Dan Baum, a former writer for The New Yorker of all things, has a pro-gun piece that is quite good. In After Tucson: Stricter Gun Laws Aren’t The Answer, Mr. Baum says:
Gun control not only does no practical good, it actively causes harm. It may be hard to show that it saves lives, but it’s easy to demonstrate that we’ve sacrificed a generation of progress on things like health care, women’s rights, immigration reform, income fairness, and climate change because we keep messing with people’s guns. I am researching a book on Americans’ relationship to their guns, and keep meeting working-stiff gun guys — people whose wages haven’t risen since 1978 and should be natural Democrats — who won’t even listen to the blue team because they’re convinced Democrats want to take away their guns. Misguided? Maybe. But that’s democracy for you. It’s helpful to think of gun control as akin to marijuana prohibition — useless for almost everything except turning otherwise law-abiding people into criminals and fomenting cynicism and resentment. All the talk of a new large-magazine ban hits gun guys’ ears like liberals using this disaster to trim back gun rights a little. It reinforces the toxic narrative that the Democrats are the enemy of regular guys, which is the last thing we need right now.
I think we’ve won the argument with liberals over guns. So, on to all that other stuff Mr. Baum identifies on the liberal agenda, health care, immigration, income fairness, climate change, etc. Conservatives are just as right and liberals are just as wrong about all that stuff too.