Even though it was arguably the most dramatic moment of any State of the Union address in recent memory, the gun control section of the president's speech signaled to the pro-gun zealots that they've essentially won this round in the fight to further regulate the proliferation of assault weapons in America. The president's demand for "a vote" rather than the unequivocal passage of an assault weapons ban and a ban on extended magazines spoke volumes, and the gun industry totally understood what was happening. And they're correct. A vote will be merely symbolic and assault weapons will continue to be easily available.
The Huffington Post reported on the following reaction from a former gun industry titan and the head of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, Richard Feldman:
"I believe the president is facing a realization that what he'd like and what is in the realm of possibility are different things," he said.
With conservative Republicans controlling the House, Obama's more ambitious gun-control proposals face an enormous challenge, if not an insurmountable one. "Being a practical individual he's going to pay more and more attention to what he can achieve and not to what he can't achieve," Feldman speculated. "That's what an intelligent political operative does."
Translation: Smart move to back away from defying us, Mr. Obama. Intelligent!
The gun lobby was just too successful in out-hustling gun control advocates. This is always how it plays out. Gun control is outspent, its message becomes obscured and weakened, people stop paying attention and political support dwindles. Gun control activists ultimately settle for symbolism instead of victory. The National Rifle Association never quits.
Speaking of which, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that when the NRA was looking for an executive vice president and chief spokesman, they discovered Wayne LaPierre in a filthy backwoods off-the-grid cabin where he wore tissue boxes on his feet while reciting conspiratorial right-wing manifestos to an assembly of creepy mannequins. Details about his personal life are mysteriously difficult to find, and he seems to be encased in an impenetrable bubble, impervious to objective reality.
As such, LaPierre penned a three-page screed for Tucker Carlson'sThe Daily Caller and you'd never know that the NRA and gun zealots just won a key victory on Tuesday, in spite of the emotion, standing ovations and oratorical crescendos. It's a captivating read for its complete disconnection with reality, not to mention its underdog conspiratorial paranoia. It reads as if the first draft was written with feces smeared on the walls of LaPierre's weird basement dungeon. For example, on page one of his agitprop editorial:
After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn.
He's right. I totally recall The Daily Banter headline during the aftermath of Sandy: "HOORAY FOR LOOTERS AND A HELLISH WORLD!!" Seriously, LaPierre is basically saying that there wouldn't have been any looting if the citizens of Brooklyn had been armed. Ostensibly that would include the looters themselves, which obviously would've made the situation much worse. Besides, I don't think LaPierre has visited the recently gentrified Brooklyn, now mainly occupied by hipsters. And if hipsters owned firearms, they'd have to be ironic and kitschy firearms. Perhaps flint-lock muskets or Nerf Finger Pops from 1979.
And then LaPierre wrote this puzzling bit of survivalist doomsday-cult nonsense:
Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it.
So gun ownership is critical for when the United States becomes a lawless hellscape. And, hey, what if there's a zombie apocalypse? And the vampires! Do we really want to be unprepared for the emergence of Godzilla? Buy more guns, America!
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
Yes, nothing helps a man survive a tornado like an AR-15 assault rifle.
Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there—or simply doesn’t show up in time.
Yet, we're told by every right-wing constitutional dilettante that "a confrontation with the government" is the sole justification for the Second Amendment. This was the intent of the framers of the Constitution, they say. (It's not.) But maybe they're abandoning this talking point in lieu of either a "the police are slow and ineffectual" justification or a Mad Max wasteland scenario. Who knows.
And then the urgent claim that the NRA is on the verge of being out-spent by the usual liberal suspects:
Now, the threat is even greater. Michael Bloomberg and George Soros are each, individually, far wealthier than the entire National Rifle Association. When the NRA spends money on political advertising, we have to raise those funds from you—$20, $50, $250, or $1,000 at a time. In the last election, Bloomberg alone spent $16 million and that doesn’t even count the indirect spending by groups funded by Soros and his fellow billionaires.
I'd be amazed and grateful if Bloomberg and Soros were able to even simply match the NRA's spending. But so far, all of the biggest gun control groups have spent a small fraction of what the NRA spends annually -- combined. In chart form:
Consequently, while voters overwhelmingly support an assault weapons ban and so forth, they actually believe the NRA has a better message on guns. It's a remarkable contradiction, yet it's indicative of the power of the NRA's message.
While LaPierre and the others claim to be the underdogs, they're really controlling the debate, even following a string of brutally tragic gun massacres. Meanwhile, everyone else sees them as unbeatable Goliaths so why try to fight them at all? And that's why gun control always loses. The NRA plays to win, and everyone else is self-defeating.