Discussion: From a Liberal Gun Nerd

Discussion for article #241678

Thanks for posting this one, Josh. As another liberal gun nerd, I’m sympathetic to JA’s premise, though I tend to agree that there isn’t going to be any compromise in the current climate, for exactly the reasons you’ve outlined. This leads me to a related, followup question that I’ve been wrestling with for a while now: if an overwhelming majority of gun owners agree with regulation, and don’t share - at least theoretically - the NRA’s rabid intransigence, why hasn’t an alternative organization formed - or, alternately, why hasn’t this majority of gun owners overwhelmed the cadre of radicals in the NRA board, and voted them out?

Part of the answer, I think, lies in the statement President Obama made after the Oregon shootings, that if we wish to see change, we must become single-issue voters on this. That’s true to the general population to be certain, but it points a finger particularly at the majority of gun owners who agree with reform, but sit in relative quiet when this issue is,raised. I suspect “moderate” gun owners are under the impression they would be shouted down by both sides: viewed as suspect by gun safety advocates, and labeled as as heretics (GOINOs?) by the NRA. I don’t have any polling to back that up, but I think it would be a very interesting (if complicated) question to pose.

As to the comment that we shouldn’t need to have intimate knowledge of guns in order to have a voice in the debate, I agree with this for certain, but I’m not convinced that is what JA is getting at there. The assault weapon bans of the past 20 years were, to most gun owners, seen as fairly useless, because they famously focused on the cosmetic features of certain models of guns (the so-called “evil black plastic” approach.) In the inverse, this would be akin to passing a bill that legalizes marijuana edibles, but only if they contain no chocolate. In the gun debate, the right eats this sort of thing up, because it gives them a cheap, easy rebuttal (“See? They don’t even know what they’re talking about!”) That may irrelevant to the actual core of the debate; i.e., there are weapons out there capable of killing mass numbers of people rapidly and easily. But it’s exactly the sort of thing that derails the argument, and causes the other side to stop listening (as many online dust ups between my liberal friends and conservative relatives will attest), This is also, I think, why it’s critical for responsible gun owners to make their voices heard, as they shut down these distractions and keep the focus where it belongs,