Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
In the most recent GLoP Culture podcast, John Podhoretz said:
There is a risk on the horizon of a return to a 2012 rope-a-dope on the part of the Democrats that the Republicans may be falling into. And that has to do with the response to the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case…
The question is, are Democrats going to go very, very hard on the issue of contraception, and paying for contraception, and government supporting contraception, and all of that, and will this then cause the Right to react the way the Right did to Sandra Fluke [and stoke the War on Women narrative]?
It’s a fair question, though I think we’ve handled the issue very well in the last week. More generally, however, we need to remember that being correct on substance is only the crucial first step in politics and is meaningless if your opponent manages to cast you as the bad guy.
It’s a lesson the gun rights lobby needs to learn quickly. Though the past decade has seen huge advances for the movement — from the repeal of the assault weapons ban, to the Heller and McDonald decisions, to a general loosening of restrictions in the states — its progress has been wholly checked since the Sandy Hook Massacre. Though federal legislation has (blessedly) gone nowhere, many states have passed significant restrictions, with more still in the works.
More recently, gun-grabbers have discovered how to pressure the private sector, specifically when it comes to allowing customers to carry firearms openly. Worst of all, some Second Amendment advocates have been inadvertently helping them.
There are plenty of sensible reasons to favor allowing open carry. Police officers open carry daily with no issue, and there’s little reason to believe that it’s any more dangerous than carrying a weapon concealed. Moreover, there’s a solid argument to be made that requiring all firearms to be concealed greatly disadvantages women, whose clothing tends to be tighter and have fewer pockets than men’s. Regardless, the issue has mostly been a hobby-horse for cranks, smoldering away in the background, but rarely taking anyone’s notice.
Starbucks Coffee may seem like an odd place for the issue to flame up, but it’s an odd world. Like other national chains, Starbucks had a laissez-faire attitude toward firearms, essentially allowing patrons to do whatever they wish within the bounds of local and state laws. If that included carrying weapons openly, that was fine with Starbucks.
For years, gun-grabbers had lobbied the company to change its policy, even organizing boycotts. In counter-protest, some open-carry advocates organized “Starbucks Appreciation Days,” in which they’d go to Starbucks with weapons visible and enjoy a cup of coffee. Unsurprisingly, no one was ever injured by these protests, despite some irresponsible behavior.
The fire really caught this past July when Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense For America — a new, well-funded, and media-savvy organization — called for a new boycott. In response, a number of poorly-funded and media-challenged gun rights groups organized a slough of Appreciation Days. In a particularly bone-headed decision, one group planned to hold a protest at a Starbucks in Newtown, Connecticut. The event was cancelled when Starbucks announced it was closing the store early.
The moms kept pushing, so more counter-protests were organized. By September, the issue had escalated so much that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wrote an open letter on the matter, asking customers to leave their weapons at home, though not expressly banning firearms. The policy seems designed to be toothless, and Starbucks has explicitly said that it has little interest in enforcing the request. It did, however, put an end to the “Appreciation Days” and the controversy surrounding them. Say what you want about Starbucks, but they’re not stupid.
Unfortunately, neither are the moms. Realizing they’d hit on a way to goad at least some open carriers into antagonizing major retailers while avoiding the blame themselves, they began identical campaigns at other retailers, which spurred identical protests from open carriers. The results — surprise! — were also identical: Chipotle announced in May that it was adopting Starbucks’s policy, and Target followed suit earlier this month.
In practical terms, these victories are minor for the gun-control lobby; people will still carry concealed weapons at these stores, and it’s fairly clear that the companies know this and don’t particularly care. In rhetorical terms, however, the damage is extensive: gun-grabbers look like even-keeled winners, while gun-rights groups are seen as kooky, aggressive PR liabilities.
Which, of course, is exactly the kind of narrative the Left loves and succeeds with, whether it’s with immigration, social issues, or guns. Beating the Left doesn’t only require that we be right — no easy task in itself — it requires that we be smart. That’s going to be a big challenge.
Photo Credits: 1) Uploaded to Starbucks Facebook Page, 2) 7 New Denver via Twitter. Though I couldn’t find this particular picture anywhere on the Open Carry Texas Facebook page, both the guys in it are featured there.