Important Senate Democrats Wavering on Gun Control

The New York Times is reporting that Democratic senators from conservative states are under considerable pressure from constituents angry over the possibility of a ban on modern sporting rifles:

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Talk of stricter gun control has stirred up a lot of unease here, a place where hunters vie for top prize (a 26-inch LED television) in the Big Buck Photo Contest, and ads for a gun-simulator game ask, “Feel like shooting something today?”

Businessmen and community leaders in Beckley, W.Va., met with Senator Joe Manchin III last week to discuss gun control.But before Senator Joe Manchin III invited a group of 15 businessmen and community leaders to lunch last week to discuss the topic, he had only a vague idea of how anxious many of his supporters were.

“How many of you all believe that there is a movement to take away the Second Amendment?” he asked.

About half the hands in the room went up.

I’ve been saying for a while that I just don’t see a new assault weapons ban in the cards politically. People on the Left saw Sandy Hook as a game changer, but they failed to recognize two things:

1) The popularity of guns like the AR-15 has exploded in the last decade, with millions of Americans using ARs for hunting, target shooting, competition, and home defense. The AR-15, a relatively uncommon rifle when I was growing up, has become mainstream among shooters. When Diane Feinstein talks about banning ARs she is threatening the rights of millions of people, not just a few social outcasts and hillbillies like myself.

2) The power of the gun rights movement has grown since the 1990s because gun culture has been spreading far and wide among people who defy the stereotype of what a gun rights supporter is supposed to be. Just as an anecdote, when I go to the NRA Headquarters Range in Fairfax I see blacks, whites, and Asians all shooting together—not just overweight white guys in John Deere hats. The culture of shooting, including its accompanying political and social mantras, has infiltrated new communities. Part of this I suspect is the product of a calculated effort by the NRA and other organizations to grow the shooting sports. I’ve also suspected for a while that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have something to do with it as well. I’ve met a lot of veterans who became involved in guns and gun culture while serving in the military. They then take those interests and attitudes home with them after they leave the service. Just take a look at what sort of products have been popular at Shot Show. Many have been military-inspired because that is what the market wants right now. In no small part because our shooting culture has been influenced by an influx of veterans and an understandable interest among civilian shooters in the conflict “over there.”

The bottom line is that the Left has overplayed its hand. Democrats in red states are the canary in the coal mine for gun control legislation. If they are already starting to fold before the main battle is even joined this is obviously a great sign for us. The next question then is whether Feinstein, Pelosi, Schumer and other true believers will get the message. After all, we are talking about people who spend most of their time floating about in the liberal bubble world of the DC beltway and the rest of their time talking with constituents who believe “The Day After Tomorrow” was a documentary and that Paul Krugman is the cobra emperor of intellectuals (i.e. grown in a lab from the DNA of famous, but long dead liberal thinkers).

Somehow I think the liberal elite will convince themselves that the letters they get from San Francisco librarians, DC non-profit workers, and Manhattan hipsters actually reflect the national sentiment on gun control. If so, they are headed for a Little Big Horn political moment.

About the Author

I'm a political analyst by vocation, but not of the sort of politics I'm looking at on this site. Having had the good fortune of experiencing a number of foreign countries, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the USA is the only place for me. Although it may not seem like it sometimes, this country is still the freest, and hence the greatest on Earth. However, I worry that some of the rights and freedoms I value are under threat, so I started this site to blow off some steam and air some of my views in the hope of starting a conversation with other people out there. I'd love to hear what you think about my ideas even if you don't agree with them.