One of the biggest mistakes we can make in the struggle for freedom is to underestimate our opposition. Sure, we can chuckle at their gaffes, like the Bloomberg-backed television ad that convinced several women of “The View” television show that they needed a gun. On the whole, however, today’s anti-gun lobby is increasingly sophisticated and dedicated to its own long-term vision. And while its tactics are often more subtle, its goals remain the same: The destruction of the Second Amendment and the disarmament of the American people.
Two obvious ways in which our opponents have changed strategy are in claiming to support the Second Amendment and in abandoning talk of gun “bans” and gun “control” in favor of rhetoric about “gun safety” and “violence prevention.” For long-time observers of the gun debate, the shift in rhetoric is almost comical. This is because the proposals–bans on guns, bans on magazines, federal regulations mandating “safety” features and curtailing the advertising of firearms, labeling firearms as a public health “epidemic,” registration through “universal background checks,” etc.—are exactly the same.
To the uninitiated or uninformed, however, some of these proposals might seem moderate or even reasonable. That, of course, is how their proponents want them to be perceived. In a 1996 editorial on the federal “assault weapons” ban, Charles Krauthammer described with unusual clarity and candor the assumptions and strategy of firearm prohibitionists:
“Ultimately, a civilized society must disarm its citizenry if it is to have a modicum of domestic tranquility. … Given the frontier history and individualist ideology of the United States, however, this will not come easily. It certainly cannot be done radically.
It will probably take one, maybe two generations. …
Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic–purely symbolic–move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation. …”
Increasingly, anti-gunners have taken this message to heart. In July, the anti-gun and ironically named American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (acs) sponsored a symposium, “The Second Amendment’s Past, Present & Future.” The morning session was entirely devoted to why the landmark Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense and other legitimate purposes, was wrongly decided. The panelists, all academic professionals, suggested that the outcome of Heller was a result of nra’s activism and the public’s ignorance.
In the afternoon, a who’s who of the modern anti-gun movement just as confidently explained why the decision in Heller does not prevent enactment of their “gun safety and violence prevention” agenda.
The strange disconnect between the morning and afternoon panels begged the question: If Heller doesn’t prevent “gun safety and violence prevention measures,” why is the decision worth re-arguing again and again?
The answer is simple. No matter how gun control advocates reshape their message or rebrand their organizations, the principle of an individual right to keep and bear arms based on the inalienable right of self-defense is irreconcilable with their agenda. Today’s proposed measures have a single, unifying purpose: To condition the public for tomorrow’s more severe restrictions. For the anti-gun lobby, the progress of a civilized society inevitably leads toward a disarmed citizenry.
For many years, the anti-gun movement (such as it was) survived on the strength of a handful of unshakeable ideologues who doggedly persisted through one defeat after another. Grasping for relevance, their presence was noticed principally after highly publicized gun crimes, when they could count on a few days’ worth of media attention.
The feeling at the acs Symposium, however, was buoyant. Michael Bloomberg’s money and the prospect of another anti-gun presidency helped fuel a sense that their time had come. One panelist suggested that the nra needed 30 years to prevail on its version of the Second Amendment and that their own coalition, using nra’s own tactics, could follow suit in a similar amount of time.
While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, their focus on the nra as an organization misses the point. The nra merely represents the will of freedom-loving Americans who will not surrender their rights under any pretext. You, the voters, are ultimately the ones who determine America’s fate in the next several decades and beyond. Freedom can be lost or gained incrementally. Your votes in November will determine in which direction the next steps will take us.