The marriage equality movement won an historic victory in the United States Supreme Court today.
That landmark ruling should cause the gun control movement to hang its collective head in shame.
Twenty years ago, the idea that the marriage of two people of the same sex should be recognized–not just as a legal bond, but as a fundamental human right–was enormously less popular than gun control. Today, the gun control movement has clearly cratered. In the wake of the latest mass murder (at this writing, in Charleston South Carolina) the best this pathetic “movement” can emit is a few plaintive whimpers and the sound of frightened politicians scurrying back into the gun violence closet.
What went wrong? Why did these two movements realize such profoundly different fates.
Call it what you will–“gay rights,” “gay marriage,” “human dignity”–one movement never gave up its core, fundamental, existential believe. Gay people in America never stopped believing that they were human beings and entitled to precisely the full package of rights as every other human being in the world. The leaders of this movement suffered slings, arrows, wounds, and tactical defeat, but they never lost sight of what they wanted.
The gun control movement did precisely the opposite. Its political and cultural leaders cut and ran from the field. They enthusiastically followed the flag of something called “The Third Way,” a banner as shameful as the Confederate flag, and it led them into defeat.
Spawn of the Democratic Leadership Council, birthed by Bill Clinton, and nurtured by obscure corporate funding, third way politics boils everything down to the simple calculus of winning elections by finding the “sweet spot,” the tiny patch of middle ground between the conflicting principles of left and right that–devoid of conceptual baggage, moral commitment, and ideological conviction–yields not change but mere election and re-election.
When Washington’s politicians began getting bashed in the middle-1990s, they panicked and ran away from the fundamental principle that a civilized society can and should control the kinds of guns available within its bounds, and the kinds of people who should–and should not–have access to them. In the bosom of The Third Way movement, they suckled on easy slogans and half-assed measures, which focus groups and polling told them they should call “common sense gun laws.”
The movement lost sight of guns, guns, and more guns as the issue and fell in love with re-electing its political “leaders,” people like Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Rahm Emanuel (to name only a few of the worst in leadership positions who could have made a difference but chose not to.) Blaming the NRA became the easiest way off the field, short of admitting political cowardice.
Many deluded and ordinary people have since flocked to this feel-good but essentially meaningless and demonstrably useless parade of shameful surrender. God bless them all, the long and the short and the tall. However good their hearts may be, they follow a pied piper. They are like believers in the millennial coming–okay, maybe The Rapture did not happen this year, but just wait until next!
The foundation babies and lemmings occasionally emit as a hopeful sign of progress a fundamentally flawed “fact,” one that I must admit I also have circulated. That is the mantra that “fewer and fewer people are buying more and more guns.” Wrong. This erroneous assertion–intended to demonstrate the increasing lack of popularity of guns in America–is based on a nugget of polling that indicates that the percentage of households in the U.S. reporting gun ownership continues to decline. What is missing from this optimistic bumper sticker of thought is the fact that the universe, the number of households, has soared. Even if the percentage of gun-owning households has declined, the number of gun-owning households has grown significantly larger. So, in fact, precisely the opposite is true: more and more people are buying more and more guns. Which helps explain the seeming paradox of a gun industry doing so well in the face of the alleged unpopularity of its products.
Since the mass evacuation of the battlefield by the “progressives” and “realists,” the wise people of Washington have correctly told us that “gun control is dead,” “gun control is toxic,” and “gun control is the third rail of politics.” The main reason the concept of gun control still exists as a stubborn but faint ember is the vested interest of the gun industry and the National Rifle Association in scaring the crap out of the kind of people who think their guns protect them and society. This fear-mongering has sold tens of millions of guns since the halcyon days of 1994.
The worse consequence of this sad history is that the pusillanimous politics of the The Third Way have actually caused more guns to be sold and more people to die than would have been the case had the movement’s leaders…well…stuck to their guns instead of cutting and running.
The result has been exactly like that which occurs when one repeatedly stops in mid-course anti-biotic treatments. Eventually, the disease becomes invulnerable. The Third Way and its claque quite clearly have infectious fluid, if not blood, on their hands. One could make the case that the “gun violence prevention” movement today actually promotes death and injury by firearms instead of reducing it.
Yes, there is a grandly swaggering “movement” of foundation babies still swirling around like gnats, largely sustained by the flawed vision of self-righteous people with millions of dollars to piss down a rat hole. Hey, it’s a comfortable living.
But the fight is over.
What remains is the fearful scramble of manufacture, import, and sale of guns, guns, guns. Because, just like Confederate flags, boys, if you don’t get them today, the gun-grabbers will get them tomorrow.
If marriage-equality champions had followed the path of the once-much-stronger gun control “movement,” they would also be shriveling weeds on the side of the path, pariahs skulking around the margins of society.
They did not, and today they won. Meanwhile about 87 people died in the United States from gunshot injury today.
So, what is to be done about guns, mass murder, and our daily bread of random death and injury?
Well, any informed and rational discussion should turn now to the practicalities of life in an excessively-well-armed society: questions like hardening likely targets (churches and synagogues) and–take a deep breath–whether the paradigm of gun availability and self-defense has now shifted so far that the concealed carry advocates may have a case to make.
I could make that case. But I choose not to.