After the Newtown massacre I posted my belief that a tipping point had been reached in terms of gun control. Despite the failure of the Senate a few weeks ago to do anything about the issue, I still believed it, and apparently so does Alec McGillis for reasons given in a New Republic piece titled:
This Is How the NRA Ends A bigger, richer, meaner gun-control movement has arrived. The article is fairly long, so I will summarize its main points and then you can decide if you want to read more.
McGillis begins with the defeat of the Senate bill on background checks April 17 which seemed to once again prove the power of the NRA. However, as you probably noticed, several Senators who voted against the bill received harsh reactions back home and there have been signs since then that a few might consider changing their minds. Joe Manchin (D.), co-sponsor of the bill, is still working on gathering support.
But more significantly, a challenge to the alleged power of the NRA is growing while there is also some question as to whether its bite is smaller than its bark. As Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut has pointed out: “…of the 16 Senate races the NRA participated in last year, 13 of its candidates lost.” McGillis gives other examples as well.
He then traces the history of the modern gun control movement while concluding it did not have the power in the past that it does now. For example, among the various gun control groups “there were disagreements over whether to pursue incremental reforms or more ambitious proposals like handgun registration. And the movement has always been woefully outmatched financially. Gun-rights groups, funded by gun manufacturers, have given more than $30 million to federal candidates since 1989, compared with just under $2 million by their opponents.”
But Michael Bloomberg of New York city, along with 14 other mayors, began to alter the balance with the creation of: Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2006. Funded largely by Bloomberg’s fortune, the organization has continued to grow and build and should be a major force to counteract the NRA influence in the 2014 elections. Adding to the force of that group are other organizations formed by assassination survivor Gabby Giffort and those of “mom-activists” who lost love ones at Newtown or one of the other slaughter sites, such as Aurora, Colorado.
McGillis gives examples of the passionate commitment of these activists while concluding with a story on Joe Manchin defending his background check bill with a group of his constituents in West Virginia, including five belligerent protesters.
“By meeting’s end, it occurred to me that what I had witnessed was a microcosm of the new gun politics. There were only five protesters, but because of their belligerence, they had nearly captured the entire discussion. Manchin, however, had realized that there were a lot of people there who weren’t shouting at him—and when he persisted, it turned out that many of them agreed with him”.
Here is a link to the McGillis article.
Manchin, Bloomberg, Giffort, the mom-activists and a growing number of other passionate gun safety folks seem capable of challenging the NRA’s imagined dominance in the elections of 2014.
It is enough to remind me of the legendary words of Captain John Paul Jones, whose ship was aflame and sinking in a sea battle during the Revolutionary War. When the British captain asked if he was surrendering, Jones screamed back: “I have not yet begun to fight.”
He won by the way.