Can gun-control advocates make the NRA toxic?

It is counterintuitive to assume stigma will be a more reliable bulwark against right-wing populist political outcomes today in the more gerrymandered, ideologically-sorted country that elected Donald Trump.

Indeed, most times that a left-of-center commentator declares that the press “shouldn’t normalize” the latest White House transgression, I think to myself: This stuff is all happening, and the GOP Congress shows no indication of stopping it, so critics had better start focusing on the substance of why it is wrong and the alternatives to it, rather than persisting in the fantasy that it can be stopped if only cultural elites marshal enough solidarity to deem it beyond the pale.

What’s more, stigma campaigns rooted in hashtag activism are unusually vulnerable to overreach and backlash: Moderate participants may direct their opprobrium at the NRA itself, which does take various positions that are out of line with public opinion, but it is almost inevitable that any sustained campaign will include voices that cast all gun owners as pariahs and wield stigma in off-putting ways that risk alienating a politically disadvantageous percentage of the electorate.