Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More on the GOA

Thanks to a gracious link by SayUncle, my previous post about the GOA v. NRA generated more than the usual comments. Publicola had a long and thoughtful comment that required a detailed response; so detailed that I decided to turn it into a separate post.

As a preface, I would like to state that I'm not anti-GOA and have no animosity towards the organization or any of its members. Heck, I probably agree with them 90% of the time, so it's not as if they were, say, a gun control group. Although I haven't linked to them from the Warren I do occasionally read their alerts to get details that sometimes are not included in NRA alerts. I consider the GOA to be a valuable resource, even if I don't wish to join.

Indeed, it's not an exaggeration to say that groups such as the GOA saved gun shows after Columbine in 1999. While the NRA was busy wheeling and dealing to keep weak-kneed Republicans (including my senator, Orrin Hatch) from rushing to vote for whatever gun control the Democrats proposed, the GOA kept their heads and held firm. Their "no compromise" attitude eventually helped to bring the NRA around.

But that doesn't mean that approach is the best every time, or even today. It was admittedly a low blow to compare them to the modern Democrat Party (sorry); it does seem to me however that the GOA is stuck in a siege mentality leftover from the dark years of the early 1990's. Every law is scrutinized as if there were something bad about it; the potential good of any law is automatically outweighed by any potential flaw, however minor it may be. Hence the GOA hand-wringing over a purely symbolic study of trigger locks that to them outweighs any benefit of eliminating the real danger of gun industry regulation via lawsuit.

Over the past few years there has been a massive yet subtle paradigm shift in American attitudes towards guns and gun ownership. Millions of Americans, mugged by the reality of 9/11 and now Hurricane Katrina, have reconsidered their support for gun control. When the S#*t Hits The Fan these people have decided it's much better to own a gun than to rely on the police, even though they probably still don't like the NRA. Consider them Gun Nuts in training.

A hypothetical example of these persons that I like to use is that of single mother in Philadelphia. Now this woman grew up in a household without firearms, she's never hunted in her life, she has little use for semi-automatic rifles, and she certainly doesn't really care about the "original intent" of the Second Amendment. Prior to today, if she voted at all she probably voted Democrat.

But she can see the value of small, concealable handguns, and she is quite appreciative of a system that allows her to get a relatively inexpensive permit to carry one while coming home from work late at night. Suddenly, the Second Amendment isn't so abstract. While she still might continue to vote for Democrats, she is becoming more skeptical of the concept of gun control because she sees now just who it really affects.

In my opinion, these new gun owners represent the leading edge of an increasingly pro-gun population. But while they might be taking baby steps towards a greater understanding of the meaning of Second Amendment, they're not gun activists by any sense of the imagination. And the quickest way to alienate them would be to push an extreme position such as repeal of the NFA.

The truth is, even if the NRA, GOA, SAF, JPFO, CCRKBA, and the other state and local members of the pro-gun coalition spent every penny they had to repeal the NFA or the GCA, it still wouldn't happen. It is simply too radical a step for the overwhelming majority of Americans to even consider at this time. The only result would be to divide and marginalize the gun community. A worthy long-term goal to be sure, but it probably won't happen for another generation. The public perception of, and conventional wisdom about, machine guns needs to be changed before such a major step can occur.

That's 70 years of anti-gun propaganda that must be overcome. We didn't get into this position overnight; we won't get out of it anytime soon.

But there are reasonable incremental steps that can be taken right away. As one who visits our National Parks regularly, I'm all over the idea of passing a law that allows Concealed Weapon permittees to carry in National Parks and Monuments. It's a royal PITA to have to stop, unload and lock up your gun before entering the park. Such a law would probably pass Congress, since less than a decade ago they wrote a similar exemption for CCW permittees in the Gun-Free Schools Act.

If you wanted to tinker with the NFA, you could start by repealing the FOPA restriction on the transfer of new machine guns. Once again, a small, targeted bill that would provide real relief yet not threaten too many outside the gun grabber community. While it's not as satisfying as the Supreme Court saying "Miller was wrongly decided", it's alot more realistic.

That is why I support the NRA as opposed to the GOA: The NRA seems to understand this, the GOA does not. Bold action is wonderful, but it's not a substitute for common sense and it certainly won't supercede reality.


At 2:24 AM, Blogger The Great El-ahrairah said...

As the Cap´n will testify, I myself don´t hunt, but I support his rights to hunt and carry weapons wherever he feels that he needs or wants to. I guess you can say that I´m pro-gun. I don´t exercise my rights to bear arms, but I sure appreciate the ability that if i wanted to for whatever reason, I could arm myself without too much interference from the ¨guvmint¨. Although the NRA is a liberal lightning rod, when compared with liberal special interest groups, they are doing more to keep us free than NOW, NARAL, or any of these other liberal money siphons.


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