Why Aren’t More Conservative Leaders Embracing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

 


Nelson Lund has a thought-provoking piece at the Daily Signal on how the individual right to keep and bear arms is an integral part of our Constitution, and he as a companion piece that calls out conservative commentators by name for their statements in favor of gun control.

Why are some leaders of the conservative movement so hesitant to acknowledge the reality of today’s gun owners? We’re not rural hicks with our shotguns and deer rifles: We’re urban professionals who like to go target shooting and carry a pistol for self defense. We’re of all races, creeds and colors, and the number of women inside our ranks is growing every day. The one thing that unites us is our commitment to keeping ourselves and our families alive, no matter what may happen around us.

Sounds exactly the demographic that Republican presidential candidates want to court. Why, then, are they so lousy at it?

Donald Trump, who had a spotty record on the Second Amendment before he ran for President, showed up at SHOT Show, the firearms industry’s biggest trade show, and was immediately embraced for his pro-gun, pro-hunting statements, leading to him being endorsed by the NRA earlier than any candidate had been in the past. Ted Cruz has an outstanding record on the Second Amendment, but his outreach to gun owners this election season seemed a little … quaint.

Going back a few years, Mitt Romney’s record on the right to keep and bear arms was a source of great concern among gun owners, even with the addition of avid hunter Paul Ryan. Having a hunter on the ticket was nice, but those of us who own guns but don’t hunt wondered if Ryan, like other hunters before him, would gladly throw “assault rifle” and handgun owners under the bus if it meant he could keep his sporting arms.

2008 was the last time I can recall that gun owners were excited to vote for a candidate based on the candidate’s support for the Second Amendment. Videos and photos of Sarah Palin firing an M4 carbine training gun flew around gun forums, usually accompanied by comments such as “I’m voting for her, and the guy she’s running with as well.”

In years past, the Republican Party was supported (at least in theory) by a three-legged stool of security conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and social conservatives. Of those three, the ones who would knock on the doors, make the calls, and get out the vote were the social conservatives and the religious right, not the hawks or the green-eyeshade gang. We are rapidly approaching a point where conservative Christians are no longer a force in American politics, which means that Republicans will need someone to sign up the voters and drive people to the polls.

Who else but the NRA has the manpower and the organization to perform this vital role in winning elections? Writing position papers and making appearances on Fox News is nice, but at the end of the day, it’s boots on the ground that wins battles, not think tanks. The sooner the conservative moment as a whole starts to realize how important gun owners are to our future success, the more success they’ll have in the future.

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There are 31 comments.

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  1. Metalheaddoc Member

    I think because most of the Conservative Leaders are either big city people or rich people with security guards. Especially with it comes to guns, our “leaders” are limousine conservatives. They simply don’t have real world experience with guns outside of political expediency. Our “leaders” are more likely to drive by (or be chauffeured by) a Planned Parenthood butcherary (new word!) than a gun store.

    • #1
    • October 30, 2016, at 1:44 PM PDT
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  2. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    To accept that the second amendment is about hunting, is to receive a body blow allowing much “reasonable” control on armaments.

    Similarly to agree that the second amendment is about target practice or associated competitions, is likewise to take a body blow.

    Finally, to allow the argument that the second amendment is merely about personal defense, approaches a TKO. After all, everybody knows “you don’t need an assault rifle” for home defense.

    None of those three bases, nor even all of them together, provide a sufficient defense against the anti-gun lobby and their multiplicity of “all we want to do” restrictions. That is why I believe that the NRA has already given away the store.

    I suspect that conservative leaders, for the most part not idiots, recognize that the true basis for the second amendment is in fact to allow for a common defense against a tyrannical government. Since most conservative leaders today are quite happy with the growth of power in their hands, they really aren’t very interested in allowing all us nut-cases to arm ourselves. So, we get lip-service and that’s about all.

    One other thing: I live in a rural area, have shotguns and deer rifles (etc.) so I guess I’m a hick: a voting, politically active hick.

    • #2
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:08 PM PDT
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  3. Viator Member

    “People say “gun control can’t stop mass shootings.” Except in every other country in the developed world.”

    David Frum

    • #3
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:17 PM PDT
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  4. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Chuckles:To accept that the second amendment is about hunting, is to receive a body blow allowing much “reasonable” control on armaments.

    Similarly to agree that the second amendment is about target practice or associated competitions, is likewise to take a body blow.

    Finally, to allow the argument that the second amendment is merely about personal defense, approaches a TKO. After all, everybody knows “you don’t need an assault rifle” for home defense.

    None of those three bases, nor even all of them together, provide a sufficient defense against the anti-gun lobby and their multiplicity of “all we want to do” restrictions. That is why I believe that the NRA has already given away the store.

    I suspect that conservative leaders, for the most part not idiots, recognize that the true basis for the second amendment is in fact to allow for a common defense against a tyrannical government. Since most conservative leaders today are quite happy with the growth of power in their hands, they really aren’t very interested in allowing all us nut-cases to arm ourselves. So, we get lip-service and that’s about all.

    One other thing: I live in a rural area, have shotguns and deer rifles (etc.) so I guess I’m a hick: a voting, politically active hick.

    One of the encouraging things I’ve seen in the past few years is hunters and target shooters teaming up to fight bans on lead ammo, restrictions on shooting ranges and such.

    • #4
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:19 PM PDT
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  5. Douglas Pratt Member

    Support for gun rights is a very useful touchstone for the most important question to ask a politician: do they have contempt for the people who elected them?

    Firearms are levelers. “God made man and woman, but Colonel Colt made them equal” is a truism on many levels. A politician’s support for gun control is a clear indication that they don’t think the common people can be trusted with that kind of power. If they don’t trust us they can’t respect us. So we get “we have to pass this bill so you can find out what’s in it,” “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” and the basket of deplorables.

    • #5
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:20 PM PDT
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  6. lowtech redneck Coolidge

    Chuckles:One other thing: I live in a rural area, have shotguns and deer rifles (etc.) so I guess I’m a hick: a voting, politically active hick.

    You’re also “quaint”; why, you might’ve even voted for Ted Cruz in the primary.

    • #6
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:26 PM PDT
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  7. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    lowtech redneck:

    Chuckles:One other thing: I live in a rural area, have shotguns and deer rifles (etc.) so I guess I’m a hick: a voting, politically active hick.

    You’re also “quaint”; why, you might’ve even voted for Ted Cruz in the primary.

    I’ve said in the past that Cruz is very good on gun legislation, but a pheasant hunt is right out of the 59’s.

    • #7
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:40 PM PDT
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  8. Joseph Stanko Member

    Kevin Creighton: We’re not rural hicks with our shotguns and deer rifles: We’re urban professionals

    Just ’cause you moved to the big city doesn’t mean they don’t think you’re still hicks.

    3760

    • #8
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:41 PM PDT
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  9. DocJay Inactive

    Metalheaddoc:I think because most of the Conservative Leaders are either big city people or rich people with security guards. Especially with it comes to guns, our “leaders” are limousine conservatives. They simply don’t have real world experience with guns outside of political expediency. Our “leaders” are more likely to drive by (or be chauffeured by) a Planned Parenthood butcherary (new word!) than a gun store.

    I like that word. It fits.

    • #9
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:48 PM PDT
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  10. DocJay Inactive

    Nice article. The gun culture is still alive and well at its roots.

    • #10
    • October 30, 2016, at 2:52 PM PDT
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  11. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Kevin Creighton: bans on lead ammo, restrictions on shooting ranges and such.

    The tip of the arrow.

    • #11
    • October 30, 2016, at 3:19 PM PDT
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  12. Publius Inactive

    Kevin Creighton:We are rapidly approaching a point where conservative Christians are no longer a force in American politics, which means that Republicans will need someone to sign up the voters and drive people to the polls.

    Who else but the NRA has the manpower and the organization to perform this vital role in winning elections?

    Which would be a terrible idea on the part of the NRA to switch from being one of the most effective single issue political groups in American history to nothing more than one part of an increasingly dysfunctional Republican party. One of the reasons that the most recent partial gun ban (AKA Assault Weapon’s ban) is because the NRA endorsed Harry Reid slow rolled it in the Senate. The NRA will be much less effective if it becomes just another conservative interest group.

    The NRA is already risking quite a bit by supporting Trump so much given how bad he’s been on the 2nd amendment in the past. He’s been weak on the issue even during the debates.

    The 2A community has been making an increasing number of mistakes likely due to being blinded by their successes. I’m still amazed how we beclowned ourselves over various open carry issues like getting upset at Starbucks because they finally got sick of people dragging their ARs into the store to buy coffee.

    The recent Florida open carry effort was another example of local Florida gun rights people scoring an own goal and ending up with nothing. The Florida Sheriff’s Association offered up a very reasonable compromise bill that would have offered strong legal protections for concealed carry people whose firearms accidentally became visible (the current law offers very weak protection on this front) and the 2nd amendment people would have none of it. Instead of accepting a very reasonable incremental victory that could eventually been used to move into full open carry if there was legislative support, the 2nd amendment people threw a fit and wouldn’t accept partial victory. They ended up with complete defeat on the issue, but, gosh, they were pure.

    • #12
    • October 30, 2016, at 3:55 PM PDT
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  13. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton Post author

    Publius:

    Kevin Creighton:We are rapidly approaching a point where conservative Christians are no longer a force in American politics, which means that Republicans will need someone to sign up the voters and drive people to the polls.

    Who else but the NRA has the manpower and the organization to perform this vital role in winning elections?

    Which would be a terrible idea on the part of the NRA to switch from being one of the most effective single issue political groups in American history to nothing more than one part of an increasingly dysfunctional Republican party. One of the reasons that the most recent partial gun ban (AKA Assault Weapon’s ban) is because the NRA endorsed Harry Reid slow rolled it in the Senate. The NRA will be much less effective if it becomes just another conservative interest group.

    The NRA is already risking quite a bit by supporting Trump so much given how bad he’s been on the 2nd amendment in the past. He’s been weak on the issue even during the debates.

    The 2A community has been making an increasing number of mistakes likely due to being blinded by their successes. I’m still amazed how we beclowned ourselves over various open carry issues like getting upset at Starbucks because they finally got sick of people dragging their ARs into the store to buy coffee.

    The recent Florida open carry effort was another example of local Florida gun rights people scoring an own goal and ending up with nothing. The Florida Sheriff’s Association offered up a very reasonable compromise bill that would have offered strong legal protections for concealed carry people whose firearms accidentally became visible (the current law offers very weak protection on this front) and the 2nd amendment people would have none of it. Instead of accepting a very reasonable incremental victory that could eventually been used to move into full open carry if there was legislative support, the 2nd amendment people threw a fit and wouldn’t accept partial victory. They ended up with complete defeat on the issue, but, gosh, they were pure.

    Good point. The evangelical church lost some of its witness in America when it chose to support culture over faith. The NRA would be wise to avoid the same mistake.

    • #13
    • October 30, 2016, at 4:05 PM PDT
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  14. Hammer, The Member

    those statements from Krauthammer and Will are truly disturbing.

    • #14
    • October 30, 2016, at 4:08 PM PDT
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  15. Publius Inactive

    Kevin Creighton: Good point. The evangelical church lost some of its witness in America when it chose to support culture over faith. The NRA would be wise to avoid the same mistake.

    I wish it would have focused on culture from the standpoint that the Church could positively impact the culture by focusing on spreading the gospel rather than engaging in partisan politics. The baby boomer evangelical leaders made a variety of critical mistakes such as not understanding that politics was downstream from culture. But I agree with your primary point that they hurt their ability to spread the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ by turning people off by engaging in partisan political advocacy. Look where it got them.

    • #15
    • October 30, 2016, at 4:24 PM PDT
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  16. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Kevin Creighton: I’ve said in the past that Cruz is very good on gun legislation, but a pheasant hunt is right out of the 59’s.

    I don’t know what pheasant hunting was like in 1959, but I can assure you that the sport is alive and well.

    • #16
    • October 30, 2016, at 4:26 PM PDT
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  17. Concretevol Thatcher

    Still…..even democrats (who loooove “common sense” gun control) pay lip service to respecting gun rights. Remember this?

    130202111850-obamaskeet-story-top

    Obviously a staged photo op with only one choke (or as Trump would say “chock”) installed on the upper barrel. Still, gun control is a loser and even dems are careful around it.

    • #17
    • October 30, 2016, at 4:46 PM PDT
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  18. ModEcon Member

    A good post. It is another issue that will be important for America going forward as well as whatever party the Republicans become.

    However, I do not understand why conservatives rely on the second amendment. To me, the second amendment is more about military weapons and the right to revolt from an oppressive government.

    The true right to bear arms comes from the right of life. The right to defend yourself by whatever means is what truly gives the right to carry a handgun. While the second amendment could be interpreted to only give the right of owning weapons locked in a safe except when, in a regulated manner, taken out to practice for the purpose of maintaining the right of revolt and militia defense, it is the right of personal defense against even your fellow citizens that gives the right to be armed at all times.

    The only exception would then be when someone else is willing to guarantee your life as in a government building. It is well known that the police do not guarantee your life outside of their explicit protection, thus, the individual is the primary enforcer of personal defense. Therefore, the individual right to self defense, which is only related to, but not exactly the second amendment, is right that conservatives and libertarians alike should advocate and espouse.

    • #18
    • October 30, 2016, at 5:02 PM PDT
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  19. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    I’m shocked anyone would be shocked that these folks would look down their nose at gun owners.

    • #19
    • October 30, 2016, at 6:57 PM PDT
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  20. Freeven Member

    Kevin Creighton: Why are some leaders of the conservative movement so hesitant to acknowledge the reality of today’s gun owners?

    Because they aren’t all that conservative… or principled. Welcome to the new normal.

    • #20
    • October 30, 2016, at 6:58 PM PDT
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  21. Marlowe Inactive

    The NRA’s quick adoption and endorsement of Trump is just another reason I prefer Gun Owners of America. They aren’t quick to sell out to an enemy of gun rights just because he has a magic R next to his name and can read a teleprompter.

    • #21
    • October 30, 2016, at 9:52 PM PDT
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  22. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    RyanM: those statements from Krauthammer and Will are truly disturbing.

    A lot of statements from Krauthammer and Will are truly disturbing.

    • #22
    • October 30, 2016, at 9:58 PM PDT
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  23. Marlowe Inactive

    For those bashing George Will, the man is one of the (perhaps the last) true Buckleyites. He knew them all. Frank Meyer, James Burnham, Russell Kirk, Bill Rusher, Milton Friedman, and of course Bill himself, among other now legendary figures of the right. He knew the legendary politicians Goldwater, Claire Booth Luce, James Buckley, and of course Ronald Reagan. He was a friend, and contemporary of these men and women, and like most of the listed above has been able to sell our ideals across party lines, and even make friends among the enemy camp.

    He was a part of the famous Buckley V Reagan debate, and Carter still blames Will for losing his debate with Reagan in 1980.

    I have disagreements with Will, but the man is one of the last actually connections to the men and women who founded this movement, and he has fought for our side longer than many of us have been alive. He’s a man of principles, and honors the Buckley tradition to this day.

    • #23
    • October 30, 2016, at 10:28 PM PDT
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  24. GrannyDude Member

    DocJay:

    Metalheaddoc:I think because most of the Conservative Leaders are either big city people or rich people with security guards. Especially with it comes to guns, our “leaders” are limousine conservatives. They simply don’t have real world experience with guns outside of political expediency. Our “leaders” are more likely to drive by (or be chauffeured by) a Planned Parenthood butcherary (new word!) than a gun store.

    I like that word. It fits.

    An alternative: “abattoir.”

    • #24
    • October 31, 2016, at 5:54 AM PDT
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  25. Spin Inactive

    “Why are some leaders of the conservative movement so hesitant to acknowledge the reality of today’s gun owners?”

    I’m not convinced that this is true, on any broad level.

    • #25
    • October 31, 2016, at 6:11 AM PDT
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  26. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Concretevol: Still, gun control is a loser and even dems are careful around it.

    Gun control by legislation may be a loser in the United States; in California it’s a fact of life. And even in the USA, gun control by administrative fiat is an election away.

    • #26
    • October 31, 2016, at 6:32 AM PDT
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  27. Douglas Pratt Member

    Ontheleftcoast:

    Concretevol: Still, gun control is a loser and even dems are careful around it.

    Gun control by legislation may be a loser in the United States; in California it’s a fact of life. And even in the USA, gun control by administrative fiat is an election away.

    In New York we have been unable to get the absurd SAFE Act eliminated despite the fact that all but two county police forces have stated that they will not enforce it. The dichotomy between the city and upstate is dramatic but nowhere more so than on the subject of firearms.

    • #27
    • October 31, 2016, at 8:00 AM PDT
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  28. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Douglas Pratt: In New York we have been unable to get the absurd SAFE Act eliminated despite the fact that all but two county police forces have stated that they will not enforce it

    It occurs to me that they don’t have to enforce these laws: Get enough of them on the books and at least two things happen:

    First, no matter how careful you are, it becomes obvious you are nothing but a scofflaw.

    Second, enough of the right kind of laws gives the Supremes the ability to pretend they are just enforcing the will of modern society.

    • #28
    • October 31, 2016, at 12:25 PM PDT
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  29. Douglas Pratt Member

    Chuckles:

    Douglas Pratt: In New York we have been unable to get the absurd SAFE Act eliminated despite the fact that all but two county police forces have stated that they will not enforce it

    It occurs to me that they don’t have to enforce these laws: Get enough of them on the books and at least two things happen:

    First, no matter how careful you are, it becomes obvious you are nothing but a scofflaw.

    Second, enough of the right kind of laws gives the Supremes the ability to pretend they are just enforcing the will of modern society.

    Of course. When everything is illegal, all of us can be shut down when we become inconvenient. Years ago I read “Three Felonies a Day,” and I am trying desperately to remember who wrote it…I’ll look it up. The basic idea is that you can’t do anything unusual or important, like start a business, without breaking at least three Federal regulations every day. You essentially have to pick which laws you will risk breaking.

    • #29
    • November 1, 2016, at 6:00 AM PDT
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  30. Metalheaddoc Member

    Kate Braestrup:

    DocJay:

    Metalheaddoc:I think because most of the Conservative Leaders are either big city people or rich people with security guards. Especially with it comes to guns, our “leaders” are limousine conservatives. They simply don’t have real world experience with guns outside of political expediency. Our “leaders” are more likely to drive by (or be chauffeured by) a Planned Parenthood butcherary (new word!) than a gun store.

    I like that word. It fits.

    An alternative: “abattoir.”

    Yeah. But that word sounds all cool and foreign and sophisticated. It sounds like a type of expensive wine. It also looks unpronounceable. (uh-batty-or? uh-bat-wah?) “Butcherary” sounds harsh, gutteral, dirty and gross.

    • #30
    • November 1, 2016, at 10:48 AM PDT
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