United States of America – –-(Ammoland.com)- When the NRA is forced into damage limitation mode – as was the case in 1968 with the Gun Control Act (where it successfully stopped licensing and registration) – much of the reasons for being in that position is the political landscape. In 1968, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had created a massive push for something to be done on guns.
Well, in that case, Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted to make America like New York City in that regard as a response. Thankfully, he had failed, largely because the NRA had a good relationship with the power brokers built up with years of working together and support for incumbent politicians who supported the Second Amendment.
This was how Second Amendment supporters had shaped the landscape in their favor. The payoff was not in a gain, but in limiting the damage – something that can be vitally important. The same thing mattered in the 1980s and 1990s, when senior Democrats helped defeat – or weaken – assaults on our rights. Today, we’ve lost that, and it matters.
When Second Amendment supporters had allies in both parties of Congress, especially in senior positions, it meant that there were firewalls that could help protect our rights no matter who was in charge. But starting in the late 1990s, anti-Second Amendment extremists either primaried Second Amendment supporters in the Democratic party, or when the Democrats who did value our Second Amendment rights retired, they were replaced by Republicans.
While Republican control enabled passage of legislation like the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, it obscured a problem: The Democrats emerging in leadership were outright in their hostility to our right to keep and bear arms – see the rise of Jerrold Nadler as a case in point. That became very apparent after the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The trend has only accelerated, fueled by an elitist billionaire from Manhattan.
But there are other ways to reshape the landscape. One has been going on recently with the judicial confirmation assembly-line run by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. For all the complaints about Donald Trump on other areas (bump stocks, personal life, etc.), this is a massive game-changer where he has made a very positive difference – the federal courts are being remade in a pro-Second Amendment fashion, including the Supreme Court.
No wonder New York City wants to dodge a Supreme Court review of its unconstitutional restrictions on bearing arms. There is a reason that anti-Second Amendment extremists are contemplating the naked power grab of packing the court. They know that a series of Supreme Court rulings striking down semi-auto bans would cause a massive shift in the political landscape on Second Amendment issues.
How do we continue to reshape the landscape favorably? First, there will be a need to keep supporting pro-Second Amendment senators and keeping the White House in pro-Second Amendment hands for the next few election cycles. Just the threat of a Supreme Court packed with anti-Second Amendment extremists should keep Second Amendment supporters motivated on this front.
Second, and this will be a longer-term effort, Second Amendment supporters need to work to elect more pro-Second Amendment Democrats. Much of this can come from effective outreach in urban areas and the effective use of foreign-language media. This may be easier than it sounds – especially if thy work in the primaries. Last year, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat Joe Crowley by about 4,000 votes in a race where just under 30,000 showed up to vote. In the general election, about 141,000 people showed up.
The third element, the most important, and perhaps the longest effort of all, will be to win the hearts and minds of those who are as yet on the fence with regards to our rights – or even mildly supportive of the other side. We need to have our facts in order, we need to be mindful of how we come across, and we must ensure we have the ability make our arguments.
People may want you to think that trends are set in stone – that the political landscape pertaining to Second Amendment issues cannot be changed. They are dead wrong. It has changed before, and it will change again. Second Amendment supporters must work hard to be the ones who do the reshaping.
About Harold Hutchison
Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.