For some commenters, the ax wasn’t enough. “He got off lucky,” wrote one. “Tar, feathers, a fence rail, and a long, bumpy ride out of town would have been a much more appropriate way to effect his exit from the gun enthusiast community!” A more common theme was that anything less than fierce, absolute opposition to any regulation amounted to treason. “Anyone who says ‘I believe in the Second Amendment, but–’ does not believe in the Second Amendment,” one commenter posted. Or, as another wrote: “Compromise is what the Jews tried with Hitler.”
The hijacking of our movement by these radical extremists causes me to fear for the future of the right I have spent my adult life fighting to defend. At present, we defenders of the Second Amendment have the American mainstream voters on our side. Nearly two-thirds of the 109 new state firearms laws enacted in the year following the Newtown shooting actually eased gun restrictions and expanded gun-owners’ rights. During that same period there was no significant federal firearms legislation at all. But when we engage in noisy, extremist rhetoric rejecting all firearms regulation whatsoever, or refuse to acknowledge the plain fact that constitutionally validated regulations and statutes already exist, we risk alienating the American mainstream. And if we lose that mainstream, we will lose this war.