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Gun owners are winning the war on guns. There is no Federal Assault Weapons Ban in place anymore and there is no reasonable chance one will return anytime soon. Concealed carry (in some form or another) is, in theory, the law of the land in all 50 states. Things are calming down on the legislative front and some of my friends in the gun industry talk about how they look forward to the market getting back to “normal” after the panic-buying of guns and ammo during the Obama administration.
But what is normal? “Normal” certainly wasn’t the time before the Assault Weapons Ban, when “Gun Culture 2.0” was just an idea and “shall issue” concealed carry was the exception, not the rule. For over 20 years, the gun owners of America have either been dealing with the effects of an Assault Weapons Ban, feeling an urgent need to buy guns in fear of another ban being enacted in the near future, and their ability to carry a gun for self-defense was outright banned in a large number of states. Today’s environment for gun owners isn’t “normal,” it’s unlike anything we’ve seen since the Sullivan Act was first passed.
On a national scale, over the last few years, the NRA and other organizations have done an admirable job of defending our natural right to defend ourselves. In the wake of the horror at Sandy Hook, the forces of gun control made a full-court press to re-enact an “assault weapons ban” on a national level, and it failed spectacularly. A bill to validate a concealed carry licenses across state lines has passed in the House, and while its future in the Senate is a little iffy, we’ve started the process of having concealed carry licenses act just like marriage licenses and driver’s licenses do.
We also have the SHARE Act, which has made it out of committee and awaits a scheduling vote in the House. The SHARE Act would strengthen the ability of gun owners to safely transport guns across state lines, protect endangered species, clarify the rules concerning lead tackle weights and birdshot on public lands, and take firearms noise suppressors off the highly-restricted NFA list and make them more like the safety tool they really are. Will this bill pass both houses and become the law of the land? I don’t know. I do know that the fact that we’re even talking about such things is proof that the needle is starting to swing in our favor.
In addition to all of this, the Pew Research Center recently reported that seven in 10 Americans have fired a gun at some point in their lives, and owning a firearm for protection was cited as the number-one reason to own a gun these days.
Gun owners are winning the war on guns, but the problem is, we’ve been fighting a defensive battle against gun control for so long, we don’t know what it’s like to win. Worse than that, gun owners are not used to the idea of decisively beating back the forces of gun control to the point where they can’t mount an effective attack on our rights. We don’t know what the end of our struggles will look like because we’ve never really thought this was a battle we could win.
So what would victory in the war on guns look like?
I’m not sure we know the answer to that question. We know what defeat would look like, it would look a lot like the current situation in (formerly Great) Britain, where the laws on gun ownership are so strict, the United Kingdom’s Olympic pistol team has to travel to Northern Ireland to practice their sport and common, everyday objects like chef’s knives are looked upon as weapons of mass destruction.
Victory in the war on guns would be more than just the passing and enactment of the SHARE Act and concealed-carry reciprocity. I think victory in this war would look a lot like Arizona’s gun laws, except enacted on a national scale. Aside from silliness about restricting the right of self-defense on college campuses in the state and not allowing teachers in public schools (excepting private ones) to have access to the tools they need to stop a mass shooting the instant it happens, Arizona’s gun laws should be the gun laws of the rest of this nation.
Arizona has open carry and permit-free concealed carry of firearms and other defensive implements, but also issues concealed carry permits to people who want to travel out of state. A concealed carry license in Arizona allows you to skip the NICS check needed to buy a gun, the idea being that if your record is clean enough to get a concealed carry permit, why do you need to prove it every time you buy a gun? The state allows for the legal private sales of guns between individuals without the need for a background check, and a concealed carry permit allows you to carry almost anywhere in the state that doesn’t have a “no guns allowed” sign by the door.
Arizona’s pre-emption laws are very tough: If a city or county in that state decides to flout the law of the land and creates its own gun laws, the state can (and will) cut off funding to that body until things are set right. Despite all this, and despite fears that it would lead to more violence, when the gun laws of Arizona were changed in favor of more freedom for the law-abiding, nothing really changed except the crime rate, which went down, not up.
While we may win the war on guns and all 50 states will enjoy the same freedoms that Arizonans enjoy, regardless of the outcome, the battle will go on. Winning World War II didn’t stamp out fascism from our planet and while Mr. Gorbachev did allow that wall to be torn down, there are still some people who think that communism is a great way to run a nation’s economy. Even if we are successful in rolling back over 100 years of restrictions on our freedom, we will always need to confront the people who fear an armed populace, rather than embrace it.
We can win this war. We only have to want to.