A Sudden Shift in The Gun Debate?

(from: newrepublic.com)

(From: newrepublic.com)

For over two decades, the anti-gun movement has both openly and tacitly acknowledged the fact that they don’t have enough support to ban guns in America.  They discovered that tough talk on their part stirred up more resistance among gun owners.  That understandably led to an almost complete avoidance of words like “confiscation” and “control” in their public campaign to end “gun violence”.

This long-running effort to lull the opposition was also marked by gun control advocates claiming to respect the Second Amendment before listing the many ways in which they wished to infringe upon it.  Rather than gun control, they talked about “gun safety” and “common sense gun laws.” Some claimed to be gun owners themselves.

Suddenly, within the last few weeks, many gun control advocates have dramatically changed their tune.  Emotional editorials and opinion pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Huffington Post and others are now admitting that the gun laws they so vigorously supported really won’t end gun violence.  They believe that the only path to success is to stop hiding their real goals and push for a complete ban on guns in the hands of citizens.


Why the reversal?   Two words: anger and frustration

With the clock running down on the Obama administration, the war on guns is not going well.  While there have been some restrictive laws enacted at the state level in the last two years, these have only occurred in two ways.  The first is via legislatures in states whose government is completely controlled by Democrats.

(From the White House's Facebook page.)

(From the White House’s Facebook page.)

The second involves massive amounts of advertising money poured into state referenda or ballot measures by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is famous for his plentiful armed guards.  Neither of these tactics can provide the desired results nationwide and even these limited victories have been offset by more liberal gun laws in other states.

Another source of frustration is the ineffectiveness of the incremental gun laws they have fought so hard to enact.  The recent mass murders in gun free zones and areas known for strict gun laws have highlighted the failure of gun control in a way the public can’t miss.

Even White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was unable to say that any of the recent mass murders would have been prevented by the new laws his boss is so heavily promoting.

The defenses of the Second Amendment supporters have held up pretty well against the most furious media and political assaults Americans have ever seen.  Gun sales and NRA memberships surge whenever high profile shootings lead their opponents to press for more laws.

This is disheartening and exhausting for those who deeply believe that guns are the root of evil.  Their tactics of the last twenty years have failed to achieve their goals.

I predict that between now and the election next November, you can expect to hear a lot of desperate rhetoric and vented feelings of anger and confusion coming from ardent gun control proponents.  After that, the future looks dark for those on the left side of the gun debate.


Dr. Tim Wheeler

—Dr. Michael S. Brown is a pragmatic Libertarian environmentalist who has been studying the gun debate for three decades and considers it a fascinating way to learn about human nature and politics.

All DRGO articles by Michael Brown, OD.