Tuesday, May 28, 2013

NRA losing its firepower

Alec MacGillis takes a long look at the battle over gun safety reform and finds NRA is losing its might in the fight. It's a longish read but this is the big takeaway.
The narrow defeat of the background-check bill, it turns out, was not the end of hopes for gun reform, but the beginning.
Newtown really did change everything and the the conventional wisdom is outdated. The NRA's power to swing elections is waning.
Senator Chris Murphy, a rookie Connecticut Democrat who has taken a lead on the issue since the Newtown massacre, points out that, of the 16 Senate races the NRA participated in last year, 13 of its candidates lost. “The NRA is just all mythology,” he says. “The NRA does not win elections anymore.”
The forces for gun sense are gaining strength. Their resolve was not broken by one legislative defeat, it's hardened into a determined force that will prevail in the end. From Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns to Gabby Giffords' group to Moms Demand Action and a growing list of gun safety activists, a coalition is growing larger every day. Their tactics are improving. The NRA's gun absolutists are loud but their numbers are shrinking. The gun sense lobby is determined to prove to the political class that aligning with that minority comes at a greater cost than defying it. We'll all be safer because of their good work.

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Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

In the long run, I think you're right. Some of it -- maybe most of it has to do with the changing ideas of new generations, just as the growing acceptance of gay rights is. Maybe this neo-Confederate, anti-government nonsense is just getting old and has run its course (I hope)

I don't think it's the young who are planning for insurrection or the apocalypse or dreaming for some uprising. It's old bastards like me, but the NRA is becoming its own victim, just as (I hope) the GOP is. How can the country not be getting tired of stubborn, intransigent and dishonest extremism?

For my part, I don't think Newtown changed anything at all and mostly because there was nothing new about it except the ability to motivate people with much ado about everything that happens. But despite what the other exctremists are saying all gun crimes are in decline and have been for longer than our young people have been alive.

8:59:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That's the weird thing, gun crime is going down but the mass shooting incidents have become more intense. And I do think Newtown changed something. Usually after the initial shock, people just sort of lose their steam but that didn't happen this time. If you read the piece, the various reform orgs really are improving their tactics and don't discount Bloomberg's PAC. He has the money for the TV ads that will keep it in the public eye and he's clearly in for the long game.

Also, I'm seeing a sustained awareness of gun accidents. Several people on my social nets track them weekly, with a special focus on kids being injured and killed by unsecured guns in the home. That's why I think Newtown changed everything. It was a whole schoolroom of little kids. That image is hard to shake even without the crime scene photos.

12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I'm not convinced. There's been so much wishful thinking and salesmanship about this being a turning point I don't come close to any confidence that any worthwhile or workable legislation will appear.

A lot of people who don't trust liberals at all are looking at the new 2014 model background check GT and wondering why it doesn't have an equipment list or a price tag.

Our steadfast reliance on referring only to a high profile crime that wouldn't have been stopped by a background check and steadfast refusal to tell us how we can make it work is chasing them out of the showroom in terror, stockpiling guns and ammo, joining the NRA and writing congressmen.

Stirring up the base and telling yourself you've got it all wrapped up lost the last election for the other guys. We should learn from that.

Yes, I support complete databases to make checks worth the doing, even though it would not really have prevented this one high profile crime we're pretending our gun problem is all about, but I'd be more likely to believe that this is a significant moment in history if someone would just tell me how it's all going to work and how it can be enforced -- and I hear a lot of silence about that.

1:50:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I don't have the answers but making it a little harder to just waltz in to a gun show and be able to buy dozens of guns without any trouble worth mentioning doesn't seem like a bad place to start.

2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I agree, but the causes of violence need attention if we want to do more than knock a few percentage points off.

I was interested to read a list of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America and how close most were to the safest. In Chicago, now about the most dangerous city, all the danger was in a handful of neighborhoods.

Some keep saying, almost as an article of faith, that poverty doesn't cause crime and maybe it doesn't, but crime flocks to places with abandoned houses and gangs and poverty. Some of the places that were vary dangerous a few years ago have become quite safe since they became "gentrified" and vice versa, as you might suspect.

Is our Republican contempt for the un-wealthy part of the problem?

Is our lack of health care for the people who need medication and/or supervision a part of the mass shooting problem?

Are our drug laws making things worse?

Questions, questions. . .

9:04:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Thinking the answer to all those questions is yes.

11:20:00 AM  

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