Hillary Clinton has staked out her turf on the gun rights issue and clearly identified the NRA as the enemy. (In fact, I believe she listed the organization as one of the “enemies” she was most proud of having made, shortly behind the Republicans and half of the country.) We can expect a lot more of that over the next thirteen months, as well as forecasts of doom for gun rights organizations everywhere. One of those came out already this week, as UCLA law professor Adam Winkler took to the pages of the Washington Post to predict that not only would the National Rifle Organization fall, but it was inevitable.
The National Rifle Association’s days of being a political powerhouse may be numbered.
Why? The answer is in the numbers.
Support for, and opposition to, gun control is closely associated with several demographic characteristics, including race, level of education and whether one lives in a city. Nearly all are trending forcefully against the NRA.
The core of the NRA’s support comes from white, rural and relatively less educated voters. This demographic is currently influential in politics but clearly on the wane. While the decline of white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known, less often recognized is what this means for gun legislation.
Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws.
This is generally the same reason that we’ve been told since the early nineties when the days of the GOP in general were numbered… demographics. Modern people with progressive sensibilities don’t care for such things, and even if we can’t beat you at the polls today, sooner or later we’ll just outbreed you. (Or swamp you with imports from across the borders.)
But I notice that Adam doesn’t limit himself to the tired old tropes about women being more in favor of gun control and opposed to the NRA, or minorities, or young people. He goes out of his way to note that people who support Second Amendment rights and the NRA are also… less educated. Thanks, Adam. That’s very sweet of you. Of course, he got some immediate pushback on social media for that one and was quick to clarify that he wasn’t intending to insult anyone. Perish the thought! It’s just settled science, folks.
Not an insult to note gun rights support is higher amg people w/ less educational attainment. Just a demographic characteristic not slight
— Adam Winkler (@adamwinkler) October 20, 2015
I’ve read some of Adam’s work in the past because I tend to follow all the Second Amendment alerts, and he’s managed to craft a rather “complicated” legacy when it comes to discussing the gun issue. He takes great pains to acknowledge that the Second Amendment is very real and that Americans have a history of cherishing their rights in that regard. He also frequently takes a quite realistic view on the subject of gun laws possibly preventing mass shootings, deeming that it’s not likely to work. Such was the case in this interview he did with Salon over the summer. But at the same time, he couldn’t help getting in the predictable “last ditch” solution of suggesting that the only way to reduce gun violence is to reduce the number of guns. (Emphasis added)
Q: You’re dubious about laws and regulations eliminating mass shootings and solving the rest of the gun problem. What’s the reason for your skepticism?
A: The main reason for my skepticism is the 320 million guns out there. A crazy person who wants to get a gun and kill people can.
Norway has very strict gun laws and had the worst mass shooting in history.
But we shouldn’t concentrate on mass shootings. We should be concentrating on the daily death toll from gun violence. Over the next month, far more than nine people will lose their lives to gun violence. And a lot of it won’t be in the newspaper.
It’s a gang killing. It’s a husband who’s estranged and shoots his ex-wife. It’s a criminal going out and shooting someone.
We’re never going to eliminate these completely – but we can minimize it. Make it harder for someone to get their hands on them.
That’s always the course of last resort among those looking to excuse gun rights restrictions while reasonably acknowledging that that all the background checks in the world done on legal owners won’t stop mass shootings. They sadly conclude that nobody is going to like it, but we’ll just have to make it harder for anyone to get a gun.
Is Mr. Winkler correct? Well, the NRA has been around since just after the Civil War. It’s membership is at nearly an all time high and they are some of the most prolific fundraisers in the nation thanks to the vocal participation of their members. (Disclosure, as usual: I’m one of them.) Not to go all Return of the King on you here, Adam, but you’re picking an awfully tough fight.
A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship with the NRA.