Gun-Happy Dems


Mother Jones reports on the newest pro-gun group in politics: The Democrats.


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  1. “the reagan administration pretty much always had record highs in terms of tax revenue for its entire duration.” Yes, once they saw their “dynamic” projections weren’t coming true, and they rolled back the cuts.

  2. Jason,

    I think you summed things up rather nicely !

  3. Rubber Bands don’t kill people- aw, the hell with it…

  4. Jason pretty well nails it.

    The only difference is that the Dems have made a tactical decision that they can’t be seen pushing for gun control right now. Their base won’t allow them to do anything to roll back gun control, but they know that they lost some critical blue-collar votes on this issue in the last few elections. To keep those votes in the fold, they will shut up on gun control, but as soon as they feel safe, they will be back at it hammer and tongs.

  5. “NRA “core supporters” matter about as much as Brady Center “core supporters.””

    I’m not sure I agree with you there. There are a lot more of us than there are of them.

  6. Seb,

    I’m not sure everyone who belongs to the NRA for the safety lessons, magazine, etc is full bore (heh) into the leadership’s “legalize everything that goes boom” philosophy. “Core supporters” means something different to me. But even so, having twice or even three times the number of adherents than the Brady Center doesn’t exactly mean you’re sweeping the nation. How about “matter marginally more” than Brady Center core supporters?

    Of course, I’m talking about their influence on the electorate. The NRA is certainly more effective in Washington than their opponents. More money, better organization.

  7. …and of course, the NRA does have that pesky 2nd on their side… for a while.

  8. The 2nd Amendment has about as much use as toilet paper these days. Even mention the 2nd to anyone who isn’t already pro-gun and the conversation quickly turns to “You are just some wacko gun-nut. The 2nd is only about the army.” If the majority of the American population is willing to pretend the 2nd amendment doesn’t even exist, or that somehow it refers only to the Army/Nat Guard (which came some 100+ years after it was written) then what does that piece of scratch on paper really matter?

    Basically public opinion has voided the Bill of Rights, at least for any real use in debate and repeal of unconstitutional laws. I mean come now, CCW licenses and hunting rifles? Does anyone really belive that is what the 2nd was written to protect? The only hunting rifles it truly gives us the right to have are the kind you use to hunt tyrannical gov’t oppressors, invading forces, and millitary dictators.

  9. We should ban all guns that “have no sporting use”…

    Opps, forgot what side I’m on.

  10. It’s too bad this has turned into another useless, endless debate about legitimacy of gun control. The issue of shifts in electoral positioning was fun while it lasted.

  11. We should ban all guns that “have no sporting use”…

    I’ll go along with that, if I get to define “sporting use,” “guns,” and “ban.”

  12. Joe wrote: “I’m not sure everyone who belongs to the NRA for the safety lessons, magazine, etc is full bore (heh) into the leadership’s “legalize everything that goes boom” philosophy. “Core supporters” means something different to me.”

    People join NRA for the safety lessons and magazine? No Joe, most today join NRA for political reasons, and quite a few don’t join NRA ’cause they view it as a sell out to the antis.

    In the old days, the “bullseye target” crowd were the NRA core that tended to prefer staying away from political issues. That has changed, as the bulk of the membership joins SPECIFICALLY because of the political issues. It is the MEMBERSHIP that has pushed NRA towards political activism. Pro-gun activism is very much grass roots. In addition, the “bullseye target” crowd has seen its latest choice in target guns (the AR-15) attacked by Democratic politicians in the Federal and state governments, and consequently is highly political–I know, I hang out with the “bullseye target” crowd.

  13. I have to agree with Don, go to a gun range and you find very like-minded individuals who recognize the necessity of organizing politically. Gun ranges today are a mixture of hit the bullseye and political conversation.

    Gun control cost the Democrats the last presidential election, and they know it. Do I think their position has changed? Hell no.

    Jason L. posted on the rubber bands and got lots of agreement. The people I talk to echo this sentiment. People fear the gradual erosion of the right, as do I. This is why supporters of the second are so serious about any legislation no mater how trivial. It would seem to me that it would make more sense to try to get a SC decision on what the second means than to let it get chipped away at gradually with silly legislation

    As far as the magazines are concerned, you can still buy parts. Please send me half the parts for a ………….. Now it takes two orders. And even a Democrat could put one together.


  14. I’ll take your word for it, guys. Though I think we’re arguing, ultimately, about levels of smallness. People very motivated to push for political change on this issue are out of step with a broad middle. Advocacy groups and politicians on both sides are responding to a climate of widespread consensus.

  15. joe

    I really do have to ask, exactly which part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand?

  16. Better news…but before you Left-Libertarians get soak your panties, you should read this about your new Party of choice:

    “Some, particularly left-leaning Democrats, will dismiss this as another sign that Democrats are selling out their >>>core principles in exchange for “electability.” But Democrats seem like they could use something to say about guns. >>>Most Democratic presidential candidates support extending the assault weapons ban, due to expire next year, and >>>some new gun safety measures, but on the stump they’ve mostly stayed away from the issue.”

  17. The Democratic Party has been remarkably successful in getting moderate gun bills passed over the past 20 or so years. Brady Bill, Assault Weapons Bill (however poorly written), etc. There really isn’t much left to do in the area of gun control that isn’t much too extreme for the majority of Americans. Unlike the GOP and tax cuts, most Dems don’t answer the question “How much gun control?” with a constant “More, more, more.” Gun laws are pretty much where most Democrats and most Americans want them to be, so there is very little payback, nationally, for pushing further, either on policy or political grounds.

    I don’t think the Democrats have changed. I don’t think the public has changed. I think the legal environment has changed.

  18. “I think the legal environment has changed.”

    I think you’re right, but what also has happened is gun owners have become increasingly mobilized after the assault weapons ban was passed in 1994. We’re on the offensive now, and have been able to hurt the democrats at the polls.

    I honestly think most non gun owning, and probably even many gun owning Americans don’t give a rat’s ass about gun control as a topic. There are a lot more fanatical gun owners out there than there are fanatical anti-gun folks, so as long as we’re motivated and active politically, I think gun control will be a losing issue for democrats.

  19. I find it difficult to attribute this shift to growing pro-gun zealotry, when the NRA has adopted the line of urging the enforcement of laws whose passage it fought tooth and nail.

    The gun lobby has been “on the offensive” for my entire life. If anything, they’ve moderated their tone, as well as their positions. Gun control was a lot more popular when its opponents used phrases like “jack booted thugs” and “headshots! headshots!”

  20. joe – I’m not sure I agree on the tax cuts. Even after the GOP tax cuts, federal income taxes are still at a higher level than many Americans would like. Of course, the problem with the GOP tax cuts is that instead of coinciding with spending reductions (as they should), they coincide with spending increases. But that’s another thread for another day…

  21. The NRA has gotten a bit more shrewd about not scaring the hell out of the public it’s trying to persuade. Their enforcement stance has actually alienated a lot of their core supporters, even if it’s been a political success.

    There’s been tremendous progress in the past 8 or 9 years in terms of getting more states to pass ‘shall issue’ licensing systems for carrying of concealed weapons, and I think next year we’re going to see the assault weapons ban die the death it deserves next September, and not get renewed.

    The NRA has also helped give the boot to a lot of democrats in rural areas based on the gun control issue.

  22. Certainly, lots of Dem pols want “more more more” in the form of gun control. There just isn’t much in the way of public support.

    Most of the NRA push for enforcing existing gun controls has resolved around GCA ’68 provisions. For the most part, NRA made use of the weak Clinton admin enforcement to highlight the Clinton admin’s hypocracy on guns.

    When congress passed the AW ban, Clinton went golfing for about a week, before signing it. Some of the gun companies switched to making high capacity magazines as much as possible in the last minutes before the ban, since it was clear that the quantity of magazines was a key issue. As it stood, after the initial price bump, mag prices went back to normal and stayed at those levels for years, since so many were manufactured. I always wondered what Clinton got in return for not signing the law for several days . . .

  23. I would say the “shall issue” laws work the same, politically, as the Brady checks, but from the other side. The two sides have wrestled each other to a rough center that most people, if not thrilled about, are at least ok with. NRA “core supporters” matter about as much as Brady Center “core supporters.” They still have some friends in Washington, but they’re not going to get everything they want, and they know it.

  24. Spare me, joe. Have the Dems ever supported rolling back gun control? Do they have a principled position in favor of private gun ownership and self defense? Of course not.

    This is a purely tactical PR move, nothing more. Dems will continue to push gun control whenever they think they can get away with it.

    The assault weapons ban was, on the one hand, utterly useless as a means of increasing public safety. It was, however, an important step forward in the gun-banner’s agenda, for it established the principle that the state can ban guns that are functionally identical to the vast majority of firearms owned in the US. If the Dems are serious about being “pro-gun” they should stop trying to save this law from sunsetting.

  25. Here is how this works:

    Sarah Brady: “Ban all handguns!”
    LaPierre: “Out of my cold dead hand!”

    Clinton: “Let’s not be extremists, how about we take the moderate position of banning only some aesthetically disturbing guns, and surely you don’t need a million rounds in a magazine, how about 10? See how moderate I am?”

    One election cycle later …

    Brady: “Ban everything that’s left!”
    LaPierre: “Out of my cold dead hand!”
    Daschle: “Lets be reasonable. The moderate position is to ban some of what’s left. See how centrist I am?”

    Five election cycles later:

    Brady: “Rubber bands are a menace!”

  26. brad, wrt taxes, that’s not necessarily true. tax cuts do not necessarily imply less revenue for the government, in fact, the reagan administration pretty much always had record highs in terms of tax revenue for its entire duration.

  27. I think the broad middle you’re talking about, doesn’t really give a hoot about the issue. They may offer opinions on it, but in terms of it influencing their decisions at the polls, I don’t see it ranking all that high up there.

  28. There are a considerable number of folks who don’t own guns, don’t shoot as a sport, and don’t hunt, who, nevertheless, support the right to keep and bear arms. First, because they don’t object to the practices I’ve mentioned, and might even enjoy them should they give them a try. I’ve only ever shot at gun ranges which some friends, who belonged to a shooting team, frequented. I’ve never owned a gun, but have been shown how to shoot target rifle, target pistol and a Colt revolver. Could I get interested in the sport? Sure, but when I weighed the time and expense involved against the enjoyment I might get out of it, it didn’t come up “buy some shooting iron.” I would hate the law to foreclose my making that choice, though. It is much the same for hunting. I’m not outdoorsy enough to commit to doing it right, and the woods don’t need another half-trained idiot aiming at Bambi and hitting Bessie. All my friends who do hunt know that any extra venison is welcome in my larder.

    Most seriously, the benefit to those of us walking around unarmed of having citizens, who are not govt. agents, trained in the use of arms, willing to carry a weapon and wield it against a malefactor who thinks he can act with impunity because the police are nowhere to be seen, is a real one. Don’t think it isn’t appreciated. My state hasn’t legalized CCW yet, but even knowing that housebreakers would be wise to concentrate on homes where the occupants are out, lest they risk a lead injection, means that I can spend a night at home with greater peace. A candidate’s support for legal gun ownership has for a while been a proxy for a “tough on criminals” stance. Support for stricter gun ownership rules has seemed to its adherents as being “tough on crime,” but those who want to maintain the RTKBA equate them with softness, i.e. “Let’s disarm the law-abiding.”

    In the unlikely event of the “unorganized militia” being called upon to protect the liberty and safety of the community, at least I wouldn’t treat a weapon lent to me as if were radioactive, but give it the proper respect.

    The “anti-gun” initiatives of the Clinton years worked well in persuading suburban swing voters, especially women, that the Democrats wanted to do something about crime. If, as some have posited post 9/11, the “soccer moms” have swung towards the GOP as the Big Strong Man party, that mojo won’t work for the Donkeys this time. Dr. Dean’s line, identifying with the huntin’ and shootin’ predelictions of red state males who vote Dem at least some of the time, is brilliant. It might keep some “Reagan Democrat” voters from locking in on Bush until the Democratic nominee is chosen, and they can compare the two standard bearers. That’s the best they can hope for at this point.


  29. Remember how the NRA was simply a league of gun owners who were interested in sharing their hobby, promoting saftety, becoming good markesmen.

    Remember how most of these folks, mostly rural or blue coller unionized, used to also be Democrats? And how now the NRA (and gun rights in general) is considered “right” and they now vote Republican?

    So lay off joe. He is doing us a service! 🙂

  30. “I think the broad middle you’re talking about, doesn’t really give a hoot about the issue. They may offer opinions on it, but in terms of it influencing their decisions at the polls, I don’t see it ranking all that high up there.”

    My point exactly: the Democrats aren’t shifting their strategy based on the fiery opposition from the small minority that is really keyed up about gun ownership. They’re changing based on the fact that flogging this horse hasn’t gotten them anywhere for a while, because most people don’t care strongly one way or another.

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