United States – -(AmmoLand.com)- If there is one thing we all understand as Second Amendment supporters, it’s the need to fight – even when we disagree on the methods. But we can’t just fight harder when confronted with threats, we have to fight smarter than we have over the years. This applies across the entire Second Amendment community.
Here’s the nature of the threats: Earlier this month, an advice columnist with a readership of 22 million encouraged a father to prioritize his hatred of guns over his love for his daughter. In two airings (one this past Sunday), a “60 Minutes” hit piece on the AR-15 drew a combined total of almost 17 million viewers (9.85 million in November, just under 7 million this past Sunday).
Or, to put it bluntly, in just this month alone, two ads (that’s what the column and re-airing were) reaching almost 30 million people were run advocating the views of anti-Second Amendment extremists. Those were, essentially, two major in-kind contributions to Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. That one in November, run the Sunday before Election Day, may have swung the votes of some of the 9.85 million who saw it.
So, we need to adapt to this political terrain and culture – and an honest assessment of where we are, now shows it’s a relatively hostile environment in the national sense, although in a number of places it is arguably more favorable. But nationally, between Silicon Valley censorship, social stigmatization of the Second Amendment, and corporate gun control, there are powerful tides trying to take down not just our freedoms, but those who defend them. How powerful? According to Reason.com, of 21 Democratic presidential contenders, only five even grant the possibility of self-defense as a valid reason to own firearms.
Before we go any further, let’s talk numbers. When it comes to elected officials, the ideal would be that all 435 Representatives, all 100 Senators, all 50 governors, the President, Vice President, the nine justices of the Supreme Court, and the hundreds upon hundreds of state legislators are staunch defenders of the Second Amendment. That is not the reality, though.
As of today, Second Amendment supporters can really only count on 190 votes in the House (based on the vote for HR 8). The situation is much better in the Senate – not only are there about 55 votes (Joe Manchin and Jon Tester vote pro-Second Amendment often than not, but they are not the most reliable on ancillary issues), but the leadership is pro-Second Amendment and will kill anti-Second Amendment bills.
One part of the problem with improving these numbers is that running for office is expensive and time-consuming. Those loyal Ammoland readers who volunteer to defend our rights – whether with a pro-Second Amendment group or on their own – already have a taste of the costs involved in time and money for those running a political campaign. The sacrifices can go beyond time and money these days. Just remember Amy Dickinson’s advice to a father whose daughter bought a pistol. So, we see the pool of willing candidates for those many positions get much, much smaller.
Then there is the question as to whether those folks who support the Second Amendment have the skills to run a successful election campaign in their given district or state-wide, depending on the office they seek. This is to be expected – pro-Second Amendment cases are easier to make in West Virginia than the suburbs of Los Angeles. The major issues touching on the Second Amendment in Baltimore are very different than those in Wyoming.
They also will need the proper support from volunteers, good campaign staff, and enough financial support to run a successful campaign for elected office. Now, all things being equal, the person with the better campaign and a decent pro-Second Amendment position tend to beat the person with a “pure” pro-Second Amendment position but who lacks the campaign skills to win elections. And even the best campaigners can say stupid stuff – and said stupid stuff need not even be about Second Amendment issues – that will kill their chances.
All of a sudden, that pool of Second Amendment candidates shrinks more and more. So, if there are no surprises, after a federal election, Second Amendment supporters are hoping for at least 218 pro-Second Amendment people in the House of Representatives and 60 in the Senate to go with a pro-Second Amendment president.
Why is that number for the Senate 60? Because when all is said and done, a majority is not enough, thanks to the filibuster. Any effort to roll back the current laws will face a filibuster from Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, and a number of other anti-Second Amendment extremists. We could nuke the legislative filibuster, but after seeing how Harry Reid’s decision to nuke the judicial nominations filibuster went – and how the legislative filibuster enabled us to kill a new federal semiauto ban after Sandy Hook – perhaps we should keep that and work to create a cultural and political landscape that gets us 60 pro-Second Amendment Senators.
Also, note the “no surprises” point. As Duane Liptak pointed out, we are at the mercy of events. Well, we’ve had a bunch in the last year and a half. Mass shootings in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and Parkland generated momentum for anti-Second Amendment extremists. A mass shooting can generate a large amount of media-driven momentum. Look at what 60 Minutes did the Sunday before the 2018 elections, and how many people it reached – almost 10 million people (versus NRA’s roughly six million).
That made the legislative fight one of damage control. Sometimes, the only win is to limit what the other side gets. That was the case in 1968, that was the case to an extent in 1993 (with the Brady Act), and that is the case with the bump stock ban and “red flag” laws in the current climate today. I wish that wasn’t the case, but that is the reality of the situation, and denial of that reality is going to do us no good.
I have been fighting for the Second Amendment in one form or another since I was arguing gun control in debates during my high school government class. In the quarter-century since those classroom debates, my experience from multiple vantage points indicates that Liptak’s characterization of the people working at NRA at every level is accurate. No honest Second Amendment supporter should ever doubt the commitment of anyone who has worked full-time for NRA to defending our freedoms.
In addition, any honest person reading my articles over the months will note that I have been more than willing to call out the NRA when I feel it needs to make changes – whether it’s hiring translators to spread pro-Second Amendment messages in an era of multi-lingual ballots, increasing and improving outreach in urban areas, improving cultural engagement, making leadership changes over the failure to foresee and prepare for new threats, and on the need to address the full-spectrum fight over our Second Amendment rights.
But at the same time, I won’t hesitate to point out the need for strategic and tactical competence and a realistic look at the current political and cultural climate, which may warrant making incremental improvements instead of an “all or nothing” approach. I will point out the need to work to reshape the landscape, and to have plans for the times there are anti-Second Amendment elected officials. I also will say when I think some Second Amendment supporters are only helping Bloomberg, albeit unintentionally, rather than effectively defending our freedoms.
Look, the stakes in 2020 are very high. All Second Amendment supporters need to pull together, stop sniping at each other, and start going after those who would take our rights away. Fighting harder against each other is not the smart fight. Unless, of course, you think Andrew Cuomo's abuses will stop once he's debanked and killed the NRA.
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.