pageok
pageok
pageok
SHOT Show Report:

I returned last night from the SHOT Show (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trades), in Orlando. SHOT is the annual trade show for the firearms industry, and it also attracts lots of exhibitors for hunting clothing, archery, law enforcement gear, knives, and so on. The mood is not unlike the mood at the 1993 SHOT Show, when the Clinton administration was taking power. Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers were happy that they had been making lots of money (because of concerns about the administration) but there was also great trepidation about the future.

One important difference is that the firearms industry is much better-organized and politically-informed than in 1993. The 1994 ban on so-called "assault weapons," plus the wave of anti-manufacturer lawsuits filed by mayors in 1998-99, has made the industry much more aware of its need to defend itself politically. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is a much, much more effective organization than it used to be.

Because the Show is held in January or February, and because it has such enormous needs for space, the Show tends to be held in one of the fairly small number of southerly cities which has a massive convention center. The people of Orlando were very, and the convention center was well-run. But the conventional wisdom is that the favorite for most people is Las Vegas, to which the Show will return in 2010.

The SHOT Show has a sort of Brigadoon feel to it. For several days, you're living in a small city (population 50,000+) where almost all your time is spent on a convention floor, or in receptions where you're talking with other gun people. One thing I like about Las Vegas is that whenever you step outside the convention, you're on (or near) the Strip, which is another zone of non-standard reality. If the Orlando Convention Center were next to Magic Kingdom, there would be a similar effect.

No-one knows for sure in exactly what way and how quickly the Obama administration will start its assault on Second Amendment rights, although there is little doubt that the assault is inevitable. (I mean "Second Amendment rights" in the normal sense of the word, not in the Obamaspeak by which banning handguns, banning lots of other guns, outlawing self-defense with a gun, outlawing concealed carry, and banning all guns stores within five miles of a school or park is consistent with the Second Amendment.)

There are some reports, from reliable journalists like as Michael Bane, that the effort to ban so-called "assault weapons" (that is, guns which differ cosmetically from other guns) may come very soon--partly as a tactic to appease hard-left activists who have been disappointed by some of Obama's appointments or what may be a relatively moderate approach to foreign policy. I'm not so sure that this would make political sense, since although gun control is popular with much of the MSM and the celebrity elite (e.g., Huffington Post), it doesn't strike me as a very important issue from the point of view of Daily Kos readers or under-35 activists.

Back in 1989-94, when there was the first federal push for an "assault weapon" ban, the ban advocates had to exempt the Ruger Mini-14 rifle, because it was so widely owned that a ban which encompassed it was politically impossible. Making things worse, from the pro-bna viewpoint, the AR-15 rifle and its many variants is probably the most popular rifle in the country today, with about five million owned, and new guns being purchased as fast as the factories can make them.

Accordingly, my guess is that any serious campaign for a new ban will not outlaw guns by name (unlike the 1994 ban), but will give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) administrative authority to ban guns. This approach allows the Mini-14 and the AR-15 to be banned eventually, but saves Congress from having to take an explicit vote on outlawing those particular guns. The "assault weapon" bans which have been introduced in the last several Congresses have taken this approach.

Unless you're in the industry, or in media that covers the industry, you can't attend the SHOT Show. But if you're interested in what's going on there, outdoor writer Jim Shepherd has some good video of interviews with exhibitors of some of the interesting new products.

Gun-Curious:
Even under the assumption that Obama wants to restrict gun rights, it is not plausible to claim he would choose to do so any time remotely soon. Gun rights cannot seriously be a concern near the top of Obama's or the country's priority list right now. The US is entangled in military conflicts and the war on terror, the US and global economies are tanking, etcetera. Obama needs all the political capital he can get, and taking action on a divisive issue like guns would be foolish.
1.17.2009 4:51pm
trad and anon (mail):
Even under the assumption that Obama wants to restrict gun rights, it is not plausible to claim he would choose to do so any time remotely soon. Gun rights cannot seriously be a concern near the top of Obama's or the country's priority list right now. The US is entangled in military conflicts and the war on terror, the US and global economies are tanking, etcetera. Obama needs all the political capital he can get, and taking action on a divisive issue like guns would be foolish.
According to the campaign website (still up), Obama does officially support "closing the gun show loophole" and reinstating the ban on "assault weapons." But I'm not aware of any evidence that Obama plans to make this a priority. In addition to dealing with the economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama has pledged that he will act swiftly to "provide affordable, accessible health care to all; strengthen our public education and social security systems; define a clear path to energy independence and tackle climate change; . . . [and] work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon." There is also the latest Israel/Gaza flareup to deal with (Israel just declared a ceasefire, but we'll see where things are on Tuesday). On top of all that, his press secretary says he'll move rapidly to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." How is he going to make a priority of a divisive culture-war issue like gun control on top of all that?

I've never heard of Michael Bane, but he's relying on unnamed "sources." TSOR and reading his blog reveals that he's a sports/outdoors journalist, and is obviously very conservative. Maybe he's a reputable sports journalist, but what what kind of "sources" can he possibly have in D.C.?
1.17.2009 5:39pm
Norman Bates (mail):
Posters who suggest that Obama will not personally formulate and promote anti-2nd-amendment policies are probably correct, but neither did Bill Clinton. The Clinton administration did quietly appoint a number of rabidly anti-gun fanatics to very significant mid-level positions in various DOJ agencies where these fanatics worked assiduously to emasculate Americans' rights to keep and bear fire arms. The Obama administration will undoubtedly do the same. Only extreme vigilance and a lot of properly directed political action will keep these fanatics from achieving at least some of their goals.
1.17.2009 5:48pm
therut (mail):
The BATFE is now part of the JUSTICE DEPT and look who is going to be running that place. Not a person who will protect the Constitution.
1.17.2009 6:01pm
Inebriated Arsonist:
Obama is not the only Democratic politician who would like to further the cause of gun control. There are plenty of fellow Democrats in the House and Senate who are perfectly willing to submit their own legislation without the need for Obama's input, especially when the Speaker of the House is a known gun controller and the Senate Majority Leader hasn't shown the inclination to go against his party on much of anything.

The ban on internet gambling was an issue that certainly should have been low on the list of national priorities, yet it passed because it was attached to a must-pass port security bill. I expect the Democrats to attack using the same strategy, with the usual Orwellian naming conventions, pork-barrel bribery and attempts to limit debate to ensure quick passage.
1.17.2009 6:04pm
PeterWimsey (mail):
Obama is not going to do anything to affect 2d amendment rights; the only people who think that he will do so are Obama opponents who hope that he will attack the 2d amendment because that would leave them with such an easy opening to attack him. He's not that stupid.

Congress is, of course, a different matter. But I don't think we'll see much out of congress either, as there are very many pro-gun D's in congress right now.
1.17.2009 6:13pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Even under the assumption that Obama wants to restrict gun rights, it is not plausible to claim he would choose to do so any time remotely soon.


God knows no politician would have politics high on their priority list...

Regardless, a gun ban bill would take seconds of President-elect Obama's time, literally. There are already dozens of varying bills out there, and Obama's time involved in a bill is little more than mentioning a name near Pelosi and later signing it.
1.17.2009 6:20pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Even under the assumption that Obama wants to restrict gun rights


"Even"?

Drag yourself into reality; until you get there, your further comments are nil.
1.17.2009 6:29pm
Simon Spero (mail) (www):
There's already one double digit bill (H.R. 45) that's been introduced that would bring in mandatory gun registration and licensing.

No co-sponsors, quite possibly even more in violation of the 4th ammendment than the 2nd, and unlikely to get discussed in committee, but it's a start.

Heller wasn't perfect, but it at least confirmed that there was a fundamental right that requires at least a pretence at some kind of scrutiny.
1.17.2009 6:31pm
Simon Spero (mail) (www):
There's already one double digit bill (H.R. 45) that's been introduced that would bring in mandatory gun registration and licensing.

No co-sponsors, quite possibly even more in violation of the 4th ammendment than the 2nd, and unlikely to get discussed in committee, but it's a start.

Heller wasn't perfect, but it at least confirmed that there was a fundamental right that requires at least a pretence at some kind of scrutiny.
1.17.2009 6:31pm
trad and anon (mail):
Posters who suggest that Obama will not personally formulate and promote anti-2nd-amendment policies are probably correct, but neither did Bill Clinton. The Clinton administration did quietly appoint a number of rabidly anti-gun fanatics to very significant mid-level positions in various DOJ agencies where these fanatics worked assiduously to emasculate Americans' rights to keep and bear fire arms. The Obama administration will undoubtedly do the same. Only extreme vigilance and a lot of properly directed political action will keep these fanatics from achieving at least some of their goals.
I don't think anyone expects mid-level and low-level Obama DOJ appointees to be particularly pro-gun-rights, but Kopel was referring specifically to the enactment of new anti-gun-rights legislation. That's not happening, at least not for a while. Liberals care a lot less about gun control than they used to, partially because they regard the battle as mostly lost.
Regardless, a gun ban bill would take seconds of President-elect Obama's time, literally. There are already dozens of varying bills out there, and Obama's time involved in a bill is little more than mentioning a name near Pelosi and later signing it.
Obama's time personally? Sure. But he'd have to send his minions off to get Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to support it. Since the GOP is going to filibuster everything, he's going to need to hang on to all the moderate Senate dems and grab a few moderate Senate Republicans for everything he wants to pass. He doesn't have infinite political capital for that.
1.17.2009 6:33pm
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Liberals care a lot less about gun control than they used to, partially because they regard the battle as mostly lost.

You've been talking to different liberals than I think exist in most of the coastal cities. I've encountered more than a fair share who's reaction to Heller involved the suggestion of rope, registration, and a new amendment than involved rolling over and taking it.
But he'd have to send his minions off to get Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to support it. Since the GOP is going to filibuster everything, he's going to need to hang on to all the moderate Senate dems and grab a few moderate Senate Republicans for everything he wants to pass.

Especially if Franken wins the recount mess, I don't think the numbers look so cheery. More than a few remaining Republicans are rather squishy on gun control, and even most of the moderate Democrats are not against registration or "assault weapon" bans. Snowe is definitely an oddity on the Democratic side right now. With the rule changes already proposed...
1.17.2009 6:48pm
Patrick22 (mail):
I have to say, it has been a little strange watching the Right get all worked up about petty little things that no Dem is even talking about doing. A big 2A battle is just not coming any time soon. Neither is the "fairness doctrine." I couldn't figure out why the Right is going on and on about these things, besides trying to raise money for their lobbyists. But then it dawned on me, these are just the type of petty things Bush would do as he spend 8 years governing 50%+1 of the country.
1.17.2009 7:02pm
gran habano:
Obama could get bounced very easily next election. He got in this time, but an old, prickly fossil, with almost nothing of consequence to offer besides ego, and saddled with 8 years of Bush, still took a strong plurality of votes.

It looks sunny today, but 4 years hence, if the economy is anything other than strong, and if Obama has made just a few high profile misteps, then boom goes the dynamite.

Smarter for him to attack the 2A through the bureaucracy, rather than legislatively, which carries risk for him and others in Congress. I guarantee the 2 new reps in MI don't want to take that vote, and the Blue Dogs will riot if Pelosi pushes this.
1.17.2009 8:05pm
martinned (mail) (www):
Relax... Breathe.... No one is going to pry your gun(s) from your hands, cold, dead, or otherwise, anytime soon.
1.17.2009 8:12pm
trad and anon (mail):
Obama could get bounced very easily next election. He got in this time, but an old, prickly fossil, with almost nothing of consequence to offer besides ego, and saddled with 8 years of Bush, still took a strong plurality of votes. (Emphasis added)
I don't think those words mean what you think they mean.
1.17.2009 8:50pm
EricPWJohnson (mail):
Obama's too intelligent to attack the gun lobby in his first term, second term - gloves are off
1.17.2009 8:53pm
Eli Rabett (www):
First they came to put the Japanese Americans in detention camps
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
They they came to shoot up the families of striking coal miners
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
Then they came to lynch the civil rights workers
And the gun owners thought that was what they deserved, bunch of troublemakers.
Then they came to haul all the Arab Americans in for questioning and indeterminate detention without charges
And the gun owners thought that was really a good idea.
Then they came for the communists,
And you never heard the gun owners cheer so loudly in your life.
Then they came to take away the guns
And the gun owners got really upset, as their armed vigilance was the only thing preserving American liberty against the excesses of the government.

Borrowed from Z
1.17.2009 8:58pm
zippypinhead:
A new assault weapons ban is probably somewhat down the Congressional priority list. Politically, the Administration isn't going to want to get out ahead of Congress on this issue, because the incoming President needs all the political capital he can maintain for other important short-term priorities. While BATFE might make things unpleasant on the margins administratively (picture an initiative to harass C&R licensees about whether they've recorded all the serial numbers on their 65-year old CMP M-1 Garands correctly in their "bound books," for example), to do REAL damage would take legislation.

I suspect the first legislative goal, because it's the easiest, is to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment's limitations on use of firearms trace data. This can be accomplished with an amendment in an appropriations bill, possibly sliding through without even first being raised in committee hearings. And getting Tiahrt out of the way permits manipulation of statistical "facts" by anti-firearms efforts in ways that may prove useful to their longer-term agenda.

The second short-term goal will be to "close the gun show loophole." But that will take a fair amount more political capital to pull off, especially if the proponents try to extend background checks to all private transfers, not just non-FFL sales at gun shows. They do have a realistic chance of succeeding, however, if they don't immediately get so greedy as to try to prohibit grandpa from giving his favorite Ithaca shotgun to grandson on his 18th birthday.

I do expect to see real efforts to ram both these agenda items through during the first year of the new Congress. But the current Congressional leaders are too politically savvy to go for broke right away. Nationwide AWB and large-capacity magazine bans, microstamping, ammunition serial numbering, pre-emption of state CCW laws, and universal registration are at the moment little more than pipe dreams politically. I doubt we'll see a floor vote in either chamber on any of these in 2009. However, if there's a mass murder tragedy involving a nasty-looking black gun, don't be surprised to see gun control proponents try to cynically capitalize on the PR opportunity.

It will be a long war of attrition. Or, if the gun control faction starts succeeding with this sort of incremental approach to restricting firearms, perhaps the better metaphor will be that firearms owners might end up like the proverbial frog in a pot of cool water that gets put on the stove and brought to a gradual boil -- the frog will never notice the temperature rising until he's already cooked.

Meanwhile, with any luck the rush on black guns will continue. The more AR-class rifles there are in the hands of law-abiding citizens, the harder it will be for the Brady Campaign types to ban them, given Heller's "common use" gloss on the Miller test. I think it's already impossible to ban semi-automatic pistols outright under this test, but since only 1/3 of current rifle sales reportedly have semi-automatic cartridge feed systems, I could see an anti-gun bench fudging the "common use" test to uphold a new AWB.
1.17.2009 9:22pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"Then they came to take away the guns
And the gun owners got really upset, as their armed vigilance was the only thing preserving American liberty against the excesses of the government. "

I'll ignore the preceding bigotry, and just note that this is less than splendid reasoning, on a par with those who spoke of the Bush Administration as a bunch of totalitarians (an overstatement, but one I don't consider beyond understanding) while looking forward to the day when everyone was disarmed and unable to make a fuss. To paraphrase Instapundit, those who argue that Bush was Hitler would have more credibility if they acted like they thought Bush was Hitler.

Japanese-Americans in detention camps? I have no idea whether the architect of that policy, guy named Earl Warren, owned guns.

Shooting up coal miners? Ah, all the more reason to disarm the miners. Might escalate the violence.

Lynching civil rights workers? Gosh, if they'd been armed they'd just have escalated things, eh? Those that were armed indeed escalated things, to where peace and security broke out rather suddenly.
1.17.2009 9:32pm
The River Temoc (mail):
A big 2A battle is just not coming any time soon. Neither is the "fairness doctrine." I couldn't figure out why the Right is going on and on about these things, besides trying to raise money for their lobbyists.

I think you've just proffered the most likely explanation yourself. There's no "besides" about it.
1.17.2009 9:34pm
nhertel (mail):
I think it's funny how the above posters use reason to rule out BHO and congressional dems taking certain actions to restrict the 2A, implement a fairness doctrine, etc.

The 2006 dem takeover was predicated on pulling out of Iraq, changing WOT policies, cleaning up Washington and aligning spending and revenue. They're 0-4; but we did get a ban on incandescent light bulbs.

Congressional Dems, like traditional Republicans, don't use reason to evaluate policies and are much more likely to smash and grab than analyze what's prudent.
1.17.2009 10:04pm
Art Eclectic:
The country is heading into a depression, we are shedding 500k jobs every month and you people have your panties in a twist over stuff that isn't even remotely on the agenda.

Get some lithium already.
1.17.2009 10:17pm
Ken Arromdee:
The country is heading into a depression, we are shedding 500k jobs every month and you people have your panties in a twist over stuff that isn't even remotely on the agenda.

It's on the agenda. It may not be the only item on the agenda, but it isn't going to take much of Obama's time to do it, either.
1.18.2009 12:01am
David Warner:
"Obama needs all the political capital he can get, and taking action on a divisive issue like guns would be foolish."

You're assuming that taking on guns would be a net political capital loss, and that the capital he'll need is from the pro-2nd Amendment folks. I'm not so sure about either one of those assumptions.
1.18.2009 12:03am
Fidelity (mail) (www):
Art Eclectic, have you considered that the best time to take something away from someone is when they're distracted?

I'm under the impression that the Obama camp is under the same control as the Bush camp. If the Bush agenda was to systematically remove civil rights, then that agenda will continue sooner rather than later. However, if the government does focus on more important things, things to numerous to list here, then I might begin to have faith again.

I'd like to see some speculation on what that bill would look like, and also will there be an expiration date attached?
1.18.2009 12:13am
RPT (mail):
Interesting focus of attention here. I attended the NAMM (Nat'l Ass'n of Music Merchandisers) show in Anaheim this weekend. No worries there about banning guitars.
1.18.2009 1:35am
James Gibson (mail):
Regarding the possibility that attacks against the 2nd amenedment can be made without new legislation, lets remember Janet Reno increasing fees and other controls on FFLs out of the ATF. The result is the little remembered 50% plus drop in FFL licenses in just three years. If Clinton hadn't told her to back off in 1995 he wouldn't have been re-elected in 1996 because by then the entire firearm industry would have collapsed and the gun owners would have cleaned his clock. Instead, because he reined in Janet and the congress was changed in 1994, the gun owners felt safe enough for him to be left in charge. But the damage was done

FFL licensees are not just people selling guns over their kitchen tables as gun controlist told everyone. Ammunition makers and firearm producers all have to have FFLs to operate. Reno's action not only had the potential to end all civilian sales (which would have killed the manufacturers), but it actually caused an 80% drop in FFL ammunition makers. The present shortage in ammunition faced by American police and civilian marksmen since the Iraq war began is partially due to the loss of all these ammunition makers. Thus, the argument that serious damage can be done without the passage of a new law is valid. From Holder at DOJ to the animal rights activist discussed in an earlier post, there are several places were gun controlist can do harm to gun ownership without even having to get the approval of Barrack or Congress. Thus, for Barrack he can later claim culpable deniability if the action proves to be politically damaging.
1.18.2009 1:45am
My Middle Name Is Ralph:
No way there's going to be a big push on guns anytime soon. The country's in crisis. Obama has an incredibly ambitious agenda laid out time and again in campaign speeches and commercials on top of managing the crisis. I've never heard him push for gun legislation in a speech or a commmercial. There are also lots of Democrats who are pro-gun and won't go along. It would be incredibly foolish to have a gun fight now. And, Obama has shown himself to be politically astute. The gun battle was fought in the 90s and the NRA won. Maybe, just maybe something happens in 2010, 2011, or 2012, but definitely nothing controversial in 2009 (and I'm doubtful about even later years). All this hype about their coming to take your guns seems like scare tactics just to drum up money.
1.18.2009 2:35am
Kirk:
the AR-15 rifle and its many variants is probably the most popular rifle in the country today, with about five million owned
Only 5 million? Sheesh, some of us aren't doing our part (raises hand guiltily.)

martinned
No one is going to pry your gun(s) from your hands, cold, dead, or otherwise, anytime soon
Well, sure, if by "soon" you mean "next week". But surely you aren't trying to deny that Obama and much of the Congressional leadership would like to, are you?
1.18.2009 3:32am
James Gibson (mail):
Numbers note: Until it died in the last Congress HR1022 called for the banning by name of the AR-15, the M-1 carbine, the M1A, the Min-14 and the M1 Garand. Expecting that the AR-15, the M1A and the Mini-14 have been produced in near equal numbers that makes for 15 million arms. Six million carbines were made during the war as were 4 million Garands making a total of 25 million weapons. Given the statements from gun controlists that there are some 200 million guns these five firearms alone constitute 1 in every 8 firearms in America. And if the statement that 65 million are handguns, these AWs would constitute nearly 18% of the nation's long guns. This is part of the reason a new ban has not gone forward, the gun controlists desire to make a more expansive ban then just resurrect the old one.
1.18.2009 4:49am
paul lukasiak (mail):
According to the campaign website (still up), Obama does officially support "closing the gun show loophole" and reinstating the ban on "assault weapons." But I'm not aware of any evidence that Obama plans to make this a priority
_
it won't start out as a priority, but the next Columbine or Virginia Tech will see a strong and immediate push to reinstitute the assault rifle ban, and require background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows, etc. And it will pass.

And while gun control isn't high on the list of American priorities, the vast majority of Americans support 'reasonable' restrictions on guns -- its like the abortion issue; most Americans support a woman's right to choose, but but don't mind legislation that makes that right non-absolute.
1.18.2009 6:53am
Kevin P. (mail):

Rabett (www):
First they came to put the Japanese Americans in detention camps
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
They they came to shoot up the families of striking coal miners
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
Then they came to lynch the civil rights workers
And the gun owners thought that was what they deserved, bunch of troublemakers.
Then they came to haul all the Arab Americans in for questioning and indeterminate detention without charges
And the gun owners thought that was really a good idea.
Then they came for the communists,
And you never heard the gun owners cheer so loudly in your life.
Then they came to take away the guns
And the gun owners got really upset, as their armed vigilance was the only thing preserving American liberty against the excesses of the government.


This is BS and you have no evidence whatsoever that gun owners supported any of these things. You must be one of these tolerant and inclusive liberals who values diversity.

Gun owners - 70 million of them - tend to value individual liberty for all people. The strongest opposition to the War on Drugs, to take just one example can be seen on AR15.com, an enthusiast website for assault rifles.
1.18.2009 10:07am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

Until it died in the last Congress HR1022 called for the banning by name of the AR-15, the M-1 carbine, the M1A, the Min-14 and the M1 Garand.

Yes! I own three out of five! Never been a big fan of the Mini-14, and don't have the bucks right now for an M1A....


Six million carbines were made during the war as were 4 million Garands making a total [with others] of 25 million weapons.

I could be wrong, but I don't think anywhere near that number of Garands and M1 Carbines circulate in the U.S. today. Keep in mind that many have "retired" (they're 60 years old) and we gave zillions and zillions to our allies after the war. In fact I just got a very nice 1943 M1 Carbine through the CMP, and it was repatriated from Italy.

Although, to be fair, some commercial variants of the M1 Carbine have been pretty popular.
1.18.2009 10:21am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

No-one knows for sure in exactly what way and how quickly the Obama administration will start its assault on Second Amendment rights, although there is little doubt that the assault is inevitable.

I'm not afraid to take a stab: I officially predict that there will be no substantive attack on gun rights in the first Obama administration. Degree of confidence: maybe 70 percent. Likelihood I will admit I am wrong, if I turn out to be wrong? Well.... It's pretty easy to change aliases around here, right?
1.18.2009 10:23am
Kirk:
James Gibson,

I can't speak for the Mini-14, but the M1A/M14 is more or less double the price of the AR-15, and I at least don't see them at the range with nearly the prevelance that I do the AR-15. If you include all the FAL and CETME variants out there (i.e. basically saying "7.62x51 battle rifle") the numbers might be closer, but they still aren't in as prevalent use.

paul lukasiak,

While it's true that "the vast majority of Americans support 'reasonable' restrictions on guns", it's also true that they do so w/o any clear idea of how highly regulated they already are. The inability to make a better PR case in light of this is a big failing on our side.
1.18.2009 11:05am
David Warner:
Kirk,

"The inability to make a better PR case in light of this is a big failing on our side."

Maybe, or maybe support for gun rights serves as a convenient marker for an outgroup large chunks of the population like to hate, so they're not particularly interested in the facts of the matter.

I think it will be like Bush and the Sierra Club. It didn't matter what he did, they were going to hate him. They couldn't afford not to, or their direct mail money would dry up. Consequently, the only political capital to be gained by Bush was in playing to his base, which he generally did. I would not be surprised to see Obama do likewise, to the detriment of gun rights.
1.18.2009 11:15am
David Warner:
Bernstein hater,

"It's pretty easy to change aliases around here, right?"

Please do.
1.18.2009 11:16am
Kevin P. (mail):

Kirk:
While it's true that "the vast majority of Americans support 'reasonable' restrictions on guns", it's also true that they do so w/o any clear idea of how highly regulated they already are. The inability to make a better PR case in light of this is a big failing on our side.


This is true, and there are doubtless many things that the movement could do better. However:

I have been a gun rights advocate since Clinton's gun ban of 1994 and I think that our PR is greatly improved since that time, especially among ordinary Americans who are voting with their feet and wallets. The success of the concealed carry movement has been a big factor - we have proved that ordinary armed Americans are trustworthy people.

The media is now only moderately anti-gun as opposed to being virulently anti-gun. Rabbit's fact-free screed above was the norm in newspaper articles. The Internet helps a lot, helping us to catch and correct bogus articles like this one.

Nevertheless, I suspect that the media will always be our enemies. I suspect that the MSM has a institutional bias towards government control of everything except themselves, and certain pet causes. We will always have this tide to swim against. We have to find ways to circumvent the media entirely and make them irrelevant.
1.18.2009 11:22am
Kirk:
Kevin P,

Better than in '94? Absolutely, no question about that.

Good enough to carry the day this time? On that one, I'm not quite as confident at you are, I guess.
1.18.2009 11:51am
trad and anon (mail):
Well, sure, if by "soon" you mean "next week". But surely you aren't trying to deny that Obama and much of the Congressional leadership would like to, are you?
What they would like to do isn't remotely the same as what they will actually do. I'm sure Obama and Pelosi would both like to pass single-payer healthcare, but you would be a fool to think they will pass it. If we get anything, we'll get a health insurance expansion plan based the use of private insurance company middlemen.
1.18.2009 12:12pm
seadrive:
IANAL, but doesn't the language of Heller suggest the current court would toss out a blanket ban of semi-automatic rifles. They said DC had to allow pistols because they were the most popular home defense handgun. I should think that banning the most popular home defense rifle would be subject to the same reasoning.

At this point, the whole AWB reasoning is "yea, you can have a gun, but it has to be an old-fashioned gun."
1.18.2009 12:13pm
Bill Kilgore:
You 2nd amendment supporters sure are silly. The only time you are supposed to worry about your constitutional rights is after they are taken away. Then you can get upset.

In any case, the prime concern shouldn't be legislative bans of any particular weapons; though a high-profile incident could change that rather quickly. The prime concern should be a repeal of any law that was instituted to protect gun manufacturers from ATLA and the rest of the litigation mob. Couple that with some absurd license requirements and registration fees that greatly increase the cost of owning "scary looking" guns, and the ability for regular folks to own those weapons will be greatly restricted.

Finally, it sure is nice to see our friends on the on the left side of the aisle completely repudiate their alleged concerns with constitutional fidelity as soon as their folks are in power. Sure it's a embarrassing display, but at least we don't have to worry about re-calculating their thoughts on the Constitution. It remains important when it supports their policy agenda (or can be read to do so) and archaic and unnecessary when it doesn't. Pathetic and sad, but at least it's consistent.
1.18.2009 12:13pm
Bill Kilgore:
an embarrassing display, but you knew that already
1.18.2009 12:16pm
gran habano:
trad and anon,

Yeah, you caught me. I often look to deligitimize the results of an election, including this recent one. I don't believe in mandates, and have a mistrust of democracy, as in 50 percent plus one gives somebody license to claim mandate. I don't much care for McCain, but I want Obama to remember and act like he understands that he's a temp., and that even this election result indicated this.

Obama's smart, and has taken to heart the strategy of adopting his opponents' lingo and patois, while still pursuing his own goals. That's easier to do through the bureaucracy, as opposed to legislatively, where the campaign commercials tend to slash through those rhetorical niceties.
1.18.2009 12:37pm
gran habano:
"Bill Kilgore:
You 2nd amendment supporters sure are silly. The only time you are supposed to worry about your constitutional rights is after they are taken away. Then you can get upset."
.
.
.
I believe we can award the thread to Mr. Kilgore, by TKO.
1.18.2009 1:19pm
Old Fart:
I suspect most of the commenters pooh-poohing the risk of new attacks on guns and gun owners remember the 1994 Clinton Assault Weapon Ban all too well.

In certain "progressive" circles, it seems gospel to directly link the 1994 Ban with the Republican takeover of the House only a few months later.

Gun control doesn't seem to an issue dear to the heart of these commenters; combined with their fear of history repeating itself, they convince themselves that Obama wouldn't be so "stupid" as to repeat Clinton's mistake.

But they forget that with the Democratic Party in full control of our entire federal government — and with many far graver crises pressing for our national attention — it would be all too easy for a piece of rouge legislation (e.g., HR 45) to pass on a horsetrade. Any mid-level Justice Department policy changes would likewise be virtually invisible.

But the impact on the 2nd Amendment would be just as devastating as if a high-profile "anti-crime" bill had passed. That's why anyone who cares about the entire Constitution should be very nervous.
1.18.2009 1:59pm
paul lukasiak (mail):
While it's true that "the vast majority of Americans support 'reasonable' restrictions on guns", it's also true that they do so w/o any clear idea of how highly regulated they already are. The inability to make a better PR case in light of this is a big failing on our side.

I'm not sure that you can make a good PR case for stuff like ownership of working automatic weapons, or the "no background checks at gun shows" loophole. (each 'collector' need not check him/herself, instead the organizers of the show should be responsible for doing that.)

Other proposed restrictions (such as combination locks for hand guns) can probably be prevented with a good PR effort. (i.e. having to remember a combination when you think there is a prowler in the house could be a serious problem.)
1.18.2009 2:45pm
Kirk:
a piece of rouge legislation
Is that the best Freudian typo of the week, or what??!? Of course the sponsors of such a thing are commies inwardly if not outwardly, right? :-)
1.18.2009 4:06pm
Kirk:
Paul,
I'm not sure that you can make a good PR case for stuff like ownership of working automatic weapons...
I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have to, given the fact that a select-fire rifle or carbine is the standard issue weapon for pretty much every branch of our services (does anybody ever actually read Miller?) The burden of proof on that one should be in the other direction.
... or the "no background checks at gun shows" loophole.
There just plain is no such a loophole: everyone who is required to perform a background check at other places (i.e. dealers) is still required to do so at a gun show, and those who aren't required to do so elsewhere (i.e. private sellers) are the only ones who don't have to at a gun show. So what precisely is the loophole here?

Though to be fair, I wasn't thinking so much about future proposals, as to the fact that people will say they're in favor of "reasonable" regulations w/o having the slightest idea of how extensive current regulations already are. Just for one instance, can you come up with any modifications you can make on your car that turn you into an instant felon, even if you never again take your car off your own property? Yet firearm regulations are full of such.

Or what if you committed a felony if you merely let someone with a suspended driver's license sit behind the wheel of your car in your own driveway?
1.18.2009 4:24pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):
Why are the people who support further restrictions on 2nd amendment rights so anxious to deny the incoming administration has any inclination to move in that direction? Obama's support for any and every gun control measure in Chicago is well known.

Is there something wrong with their position? Are they unsure of their ground? Do they believe that they are not in a majority in their policy prescriptions?

Just asking.
1.18.2009 5:20pm
pintler:

I'm not sure that you can make a good PR case for stuff ... the "no background checks at gun shows" loophole. (each 'collector' need not check him/herself, instead the organizers of the show should be responsible for doing that.)


I don't think the 'gun show loophole' doesn't have anything to do with gun shows. A narrow ban at gun shows proper is too easy to circumvent ("Gee, that one looks nice, but I don't get paid until the day after tomorrow, how about I call you and see if it's still available then?"). So the good guys would comply, and the bad guys (who, mostly, say they don't get guns at gun shows anyway) will circumvent the law or just buy off the street. Once there is no effect on crime, the push will be to close the 'home sales loophole'. Unfortunately, it will be hard to tell if people are complying without recording serial numbers during the background checks, if not outright registration.

Registration does have some advantages, for example, when you stop a felon and find a gun in the car, it makes his girlfriend think twice before saying the gun is hers. It also makes it easier for some future despot. Are we likely to encounter a despot worth revolting against in the next 20 years? That would be very unlikely (although you don't always get too much warning, cf. the Weimar Republic). Is the country likely to encounter such a despot in the next 500 years? Historically, how many countries have enjoyed 700 years of uninterrupted good government. Switzerland, Iceland, ... any others?
1.18.2009 5:46pm
Ken Arromdee:
Historically, how many countries have enjoyed 700 years of uninterrupted good government. Switzerland, Iceland, ... any others?

That question is a cheat, because 700 years is enough time for big political and social changes that are unlikely to reverse themselves. 700 years is before the US Constitution. It's before the Industrial Revolution. It's not only before television and newspapers, it's before movable type. The fact that no good government is 700 years old doesn't mean good governments can't last in modern conditions that don't involve us forgetting how to use movable type.
1.18.2009 7:26pm
whit:

The success of the concealed carry movement has been a big factor - we have proved that ordinary armed Americans are trustworthy people.

The media is now only moderately anti-gun as opposed to being virulently anti-gun.


and the (liberal) media still does a good job of doing so.

iirc, all in the family was the first sitcom/show to acknowledge that people use the toilet (archie's famous flush). the brady bunch was the first to show the husband and wife in bed together. any # of dramas etc. have addressed abortion, homosexuality, AIDS, etc. the cosby show was instrumental in presenting a likable african american upper middle class family, and urkel was (as far as i recall) the first character to promote the idea that black guys can be as nerdy as a white guy any day of the week, etc.

but normal people who carry guns do NOT EXIST in the media (dramas, sitcoms, etc.). even in the show "frasier" that featured a retired SPD cop as a prominent character, he was never (to my knowledge) ever seen strapping on a gun before venturing outside.

out of all the groups who have claimed underexposure in the media and/or stereotyping in the past (blacks, asians, hispanics, gays, etc. there is one very very large demographic that simply does not even EXIST - concealed weapons holders - soccer moms, average guys, etc. who carry guns.

the only people who carry guns in teevee world are cops, criminals, private eyes, or normal-people-placed-in-extraordinary-circumstances(tm) who must FIGHT BACK (usually at the government agents who are pursuing them etc.).

it's not just unrealistic, it is completely contrary to reality. "normal" people who carry guns number in the scores of millions in this country, but they DO NOT EXIST in teevee-land.

teevee sitcoms and dramas love to normalize and expose all sorts of demographics - except gun owners.

heck, family ties even normalized a sympathetic REPUBLICAN character (alex keaton).

but people who carry guns? nope
1.18.2009 8:03pm
Kevin P. (mail):
whit, it isn't even people who carry guns. Law abiding citizens who use guns successfully to defend themselves in the home barely exist on TV. In almost all cases, their gun is taken away from them or used against them or they have a negligent discharge.
1.18.2009 8:17pm
Kevin P. (mail):
The Joyce Foundation has, in the past, funded the Entertainment Industries Council, which produces anti-gun propaganda for Hollywood and TV. Here are some of their "facts". See how many lies you can find.
1.18.2009 8:29pm
whit:
kevin, i'm the first to admit that gun owners are under/misrepresented on tv.

i am just saying that the bias/non-exposure of gun-carryers is WAY more blatant and way more statistically wrong.

i have seen a few shows where (for example) rural residents are seen as having a shotgun in the home, and have even seen them use them EFFECTIVELY as a deterrent.

think about all the small demographics that are well represented , then look at gun carryers.

certain demographics - attractive people - for instance are naturally going to be overrepresented because people want to look at attractive people. overweight, nebbishy guys are represented too though (think george costanza). but attractive hwp people are going to be be disproportionate in teevee land.

but imagine if teevee showed NO fat people whatsoever. NONE

or NO jews.

people would go wtf?

but no gun-carryers is totally "normal" in hollywood.

they are truly the new "invisible man"
1.18.2009 8:32pm
Kirk:
whit,
gun-carryers...are truly the new "invisible man"
Hey, that's why it's called concealed carry!

:-)

(j/k, as whit probably knows well that WA is second only to VA in the forefront of the modern open-carry movement.)
1.18.2009 8:57pm
Eli Rabett (www):
"Bill Kilgore:
You 2nd amendment supporters sure are silly. The only time you are supposed to worry about your someone else's constitutional rights is after they yours are taken away. Then you can get upset."

Well sure bunch of stuck one note pigs they are.

First they came to put the Japanese Americans in detention camps
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
They they came to shoot up the families of striking coal miners
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
Then they came to lynch the civil rights workers
And the gun owners thought that was what they deserved, bunch of troublemakers.
Then they came to haul all the Arab Americans in for questioning and indeterminate detention without charges
And the gun owners thought that was really a good idea.
Then they came for the communists,
And you never heard the gun owners cheer so loudly in your life.
Then they came to take away the guns
And the gun owners got really upset, as their armed vigilance was the only thing preserving American liberty against the excesses of the government.
1.18.2009 9:01pm
BillW:
Eli Rabett:
Then they came to haul all the Arab Americans in for questioning and indeterminate detention without charges
And the gun owners thought that was really a good idea.
Then they came for the communists,
And you never heard the gun owners cheer so loudly in your life.

Someone tried to round up the commies in the last seven years? Tell us more! Here I'd thought Communism had been a spent force since '91.
1.18.2009 9:54pm
Pablo22 (mail):
"The strongest opposition to the War on Drugs, to take just one example can be seen on AR15.com, an enthusiast website for assault rifles."

Really? Sweet! Respect fellas - I smell an alliance.
1.18.2009 10:12pm
luagha:
They've already shown William Shatner as a concealed carrier on Boston Legal, right?
1.19.2009 2:05am
Steve in CT (www):
True luagha, but it was kind of a caricature. It also continued the ridiculous notion that you can 'just shoot an attacker in the leg' to disable him rather than shooting center of mass as all police departments train to do.

Eli apparently operates on the 'if you repeat it enough, people will believe it' factor. He also notes that it was stolen from Lambert's blog, who's never found an anti-gun study he wouldn't support, no matter how poorly done.
1.19.2009 5:08am
Kevin P. (mail):

Steve in CT:
Eli apparently operates on the 'if you repeat it enough, people will believe it' factor. He also notes that it was stolen from Lambert's blog, who's never found an anti-gun study he wouldn't support, no matter how poorly done.


I have found this to be pretty much the case with Tim Lambert, and all the causes he supports. Once he picks a side in a debate, he becomes a true partisan for that side. Any study that supports his side is correct. Any study that opposes his side is likely false, and the authors of the study are likely mendacious as well.
1.19.2009 8:35am
Kevin P. (mail):
Eli Rabett:


Well sure bunch of stuck one note pigs they are.


A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth so I will call out Eli Rabett on this. Provide some evidence that any of the following is true. None of it is true, you lying punk.


First they came to put the Japanese Americans in detention camps
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
They they came to shoot up the families of striking coal miners
And the gun owners mostly approved of that.
Then they came to lynch the civil rights workers
And the gun owners thought that was what they deserved, bunch of troublemakers.
Then they came to haul all the Arab Americans in for questioning and indeterminate detention without charges
And the gun owners thought that was really a good idea.
Then they came for the communists,
And you never heard the gun owners cheer so loudly in your life.
Then they came to take away the guns
And the gun owners got really upset, as their armed vigilance was the only thing preserving American liberty against the excesses of the government.
1.19.2009 8:38am
pintler:

The fact that no good government is 700 years old doesn't mean good governments can't last in modern conditions that don't involve us forgetting how to use movable type.


I agree - nothing says good government can't last - but does anything say that it must endure? The historical record is that good government has an MTBF of not more than a couple of hundred years.

Movable type or the internet may or may not change that. I'm not sure, for example, that the forces that led to Rome changing from a republic to a military dictatorship had anything to do with a lack of suitable information technologies.
1.19.2009 10:02am
Yankev (mail):

Then they came to lynch the civil rights workers
Never mind that the NRA was instrumental in helping at least one black community organize a gun club in the 1950s through the Civilian Marksmanship Program in order to defend themselves against the Klan -- and it worked!

We have an interesting syllogism at work here:

Major premise: Liberals hate guns and hate racism.
Minor premise: Gun owners don't hate guns.
Conclusion: Gun owners obviously must be racists.

Tell it to Carl Rowan. For that matter, tell it to Bobby Seale.
1.19.2009 11:11am
Gun-Curious:

Why are the people who support further restrictions on 2nd amendment rights so anxious to deny the incoming administration has any inclination to move in that direction?



I am not denying that the incoming administration might prefer fewer gun rights than exist today. Rather, I think gun rights are relatively unimportant compared with the current host of serious problems in the US and the world. Therefore, I do not think Obama is so misguided as to risk his political capital in openly or covertly attempting to restrict gun rights when he needs all the political capital he can get right now. If he tries to mess with gun rights, even covertly, I am confident that pro-gun groups will bring it to light and his political capital will drain rapidly. I am particularly confident that the numerous people that post on this site will tear Obama a new one if he chooses that path. I do not think that Obama so incompetent that he will tinker with gun laws before some of the more important issues in the country and world are under control.

I do not claim that gun rights are unimportant! I just think altering gun rights is relatively unimportant compared to the other problems the nation faces today.
1.19.2009 12:03pm
My Middle Name Is Ralph:

Why are the people who support further restrictions on 2nd amendment rights so anxious to deny the incoming administration has any inclination to move in that direction? Obama's support for any and every gun control measure in Chicago is well known.


First, most people here have made much more limited assertions than what you write. I've said Obama is not going to push controversial gun restrictions in 2009. That's a quite a bit different than stating Obama has no inclination to move in the direction of gun control. Second, it's not based on my opinion about what Obama thinks about the merits of gun control legislation. In fact, I don't doubt that he favors further gun control measures (even though I wouldn't necessarily read too much into his Chicago positions since gun control is politically popular with his electorate there). I just think it's a combination of (1) very low on his priority list, almost insignificant compared to many other issues (see the total and complete lack of emphasis on this issue during the campaign and in his speeches; rather Obama continually sought to downplay his past support of gun control) and (2) very high in terms of political cost to wage that fight (see the NRA membership rolls, PAC donations, what happened to many pols who supported gun control legislation in 1994, and just imagine the amount of energy gun owners would put into opposing big, new gun restrictions). Perhaps this is just my own bias, as further gun restrictions are just not that important to me and I don't want to see Obama distracted or weakened by an, IMHO, unnecessary and perhaps losing fight.
1.19.2009 1:41pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb:

Why are the people who support further restrictions on 2nd amendment rights so anxious to deny the incoming administration has any inclination to move in that direction?

I don't support further restrictions on 2nd amendment rights, but I also deny that the incoming administration is likely to move in that direction. I do so because I find the constant hand-wringing of my fellow RKBA enthusiasts to be somewhat counterproductive. See, e.g., the "evil UN is going to take our guns" blather.

Mr. Warner: you misapprehend me. My handle actually is a suggestion to Bernstein haters, not an affirmation of them.
1.19.2009 9:03pm

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.