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.