Fayetteville, AR –-(Ammoland.com)- I’m told that a blue wave is coming, if not in full force this November, then in the not too distant future. While the House of Representatives is likely to flip this year, the Senate probably won’t, and governorships are headed toward a something like a fifty-fifty split, leaving us in something close to the present status quo. But the demographic trend is toward a nation in which no one ethnic or racial group is in the majority, and many on the left assume that this will mean increasing losses to the Republican Party.
I’m not entirely persuaded by this “demographics as destiny” argument. If, for example, the Republicans would drop their allergy to immigration, they might find out that Latinos share a lot of their values, particularly on matters of religion and worker initiative. However, support for gun control is high among Hispanics, suggesting that at least in this regard, the direction of things, if left to themselves, is not where we’d want them to go.
Is there a solution? We have to overcome the impression in the country that gun ownership is either something that bad people or old white people do. I’ve suggested in the past that the NRA keeps committing own goals or shooting themselves in the foot or whatever other phrase we’d like to use for a group that continues to miss opportunities. Colion Noir and Julie Golob, as good as they are as representatives of the community, are not enough. The public face of that and other organizations in favor of gun rights needs to be people who will appeal to a younger and more diverse population. As I’ve explained before, this is not diversity for its own sake, though that does have value, but it’s a recognition that marketing matters.
That appeal, particularly to millennials, isn’t hopeless. They are still working out what they will think about many political matters, but on social issues such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana, they tend to hold a live and let live attitude. Given the anti-authoritarian sensibility that is characteristic of the young—and that some of us preserve into later years—there is a lot of promise here.
We have to do two things here: promotion and education. The promotion involves emphasizing guns as an exercise of individualism. The ability to make our own choices is a core value across generations of Americans, and while too many of us are willing to be mollified by the illusion of choice—read the ingredients list of all the tubes of toothpaste on the eight by fifteen foot shelves in the grocery store for an illustration of this—the idea that someone wants to run our lives for us raises hackles of young and old alike, and the more so for the former. We can lose focus if this becomes too strongly identified with a political party—I’m looking at you, NRA—since that turns the message into yet another command from on high.
Beyond that, as we hear over and over, it’s important to take people, especially young people and people who don’t look like us, to the range. The personal connection and experience will gain ground that no amount of advertising and speechifying can get for us.
The takeaway here is that no matter how the election in November or in the future goes, neither giving up nor resting on our laurels is a good strategy. What will work is a continual effort at winning over ordinary people to the side of gun rights.
About Greg Camp
Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.