Tuesday, March 25, 2014


A new bill that allows guns in churches, schools, restaurants, bars (at least if the bearer isn't drinking), and the non-secure parts of airports awaits the signature of Georgia governor Nathan Deal, as today's New York Times reports. But have the gunners gone too far?
Critics say the victories may come at a price as pro-gun legislation pushes up against the limits of public opinion.

"I do think they've overreached," said Laura Cutilletta, senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Georgia bill, she said, is "so extreme and people do have such a strong reaction to it. I don’t think over all it's a victory for them."

The bill was opposed not only by gun-control groups, but also by the state's police chiefs association and restaurant association, Episcopal and Catholic churches, and the federal Transportation Security Administration. A majority of Georgians also opposed it, according to several polls.
Yeah? So? Huge nationwide majorities support universal criminal background checks, and the assault weapons ban, and quite a few other gun control proposals. Notice that Republican opposition to these extraordinarily popular laws is an absolute non-issue in the congressional midterms, which are likely to be a Republican rout?

So, no, none of this will matter:
... a January poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ... found 72 percent of registered voters statewide oppose allowing firearms in houses of worship, while 26 percent said they favored the idea....

The poll also asked how did people feel about allowing people to carry firearms on college campuses and in dorms. Seventy-eight percent said they oppose the idea....
It won't matter because practically no one in America is a one-issue gun control voter, whereas millions of Americans are one-issue gun rights voters.

This quote, from the Times story, makes a lot more sense:
"I don't think it will backfire," said Jerry Henry, director of Georgia Carry, one of the main local groups that promoted the bill. "You can bet those politicians who voted for it knew what their constituents wanted."
They're doing this in an election year. They know what they're doing. Governor Deal is up for reelection, and he's expected to sign the bill. His Democratic opponent, Jimmy Carter's grandson Jason Carter, is a state senator. He voted for the bill.

What could push Americans too far on guns? I don't know how you can have much more of a jolt than Newtown, and, as the Times story notes, "in the 12 months immediately afterward, states passed 39 laws to tighten gun restrictions and 70 to loosen them." A rampant gun culture keeps us at a level of violence no other civilized country would find acceptable, but loosening guns laws doesn't really lead to dramatic increases in violence, or dramatic decreases, so while the gunners remain eternally vigilant, most other voters just shrug and turn away, then go on to vote the way they always did.

Which, for most white people, means voting Republican, and therefore, ultimately, pro-gun. Republicans, even if they support seemingly unpopular gun laws, seem to embody white people's culture, so white people vote for them.

What might change that? Maybe a huge increase in gun violence (although the gunners would probably blame that on gun restrictions, not gun freedom). Maybe Democrats would begin competing for the white vote by seriously pushing pro-middle-class economic populism (but how likely is that?).

More likely, we're going to have to wait until America isn't majority white anymore to see any change in this. That's not expected to happen until 2043, and it'll be a couple mote decades before the effect shows up in voting totals. But until then, nothing's going to change on guns, unless white people develop a skepticism about the GOP.


Unknown said...

If 2014 isn't a repiglican rout what will you do? I mean if it isn't bad for the Democrats you just can't cope can you.

Steve M. said...

You do realize that I still think Hillary's going to win in 2016, don't you? And I assumed Nate Silver was going to be right in 2012.

I make realistic, down-the-middle predictions. On gun control, the most realistic, down-the-middle prediction says that gunners will continue to run rampant in red-state legislatures. Give me one good reason to think otherwise -- a reason, not "Oh, you're harshing my mellow, so you must be wrong."

What are you going to do if I'm right? Slink off and go troll someone else?

Anonymous said...

The issue with gun control is that guns just aren't an issue.

Odds are you won't get killed by a gun. It's horrific, and the media loves horrific bloody things, but you probably won't be killed by a gun. Most people worry about dieing because of cancer, heart disease, or other things that probably will kill you.

Going beyond that, many people throw their hands up in the air with things such as heart disease that probably will kill them, so why the hell would they care about guns? The reason for this is simple as well. Most people spend most of their adult lives worried about things like money, bills, debt, and putting food on the table. To the extent they are worried about heart disease it's less of an issue than "can I afford to retire, can I afford the pills and my electric bill".

Gun issues just aren't on the table. It's largely the crusade of 1%'rs like Bloomberg or Maher who openly hate on rural culture and are mostly concerned that nobody robs the haves when they shop at upscale boutiques... you know people who don't have to worry about heart disease, retirement, and paying their bills.

People tend to concentrate on actual threats and issues that will impact them. Horrific freak events like mass shootings or planes crashing into the ocean get our attention while on TV. But once it's over we go back to worrying about paying the bills and putting a roof over our heads.

If the left wants to actually advance on gun control, violence against women, or even global warming we need to learn this. If peoples lives improve to the point where income, debt, retirement, and medical care are no longer looming issues 24/7 they'll be able to focus on other issues.

Steve M. said...

People can be induced to care about all kinds of things. The "Ground Zero mosque." Supposedly massive voter fraud. ACORN. Why not gun violence?

Victor said...

I used to think that the only way we'd get more gun control, is if the brown people went into white neighborhoods, and shot white people.
Ala the riots of the 60's, when even Nixon and Reagan came out for gun control.

But now, with so many guns out there, and gun-nuts with 10, 20, or more guns, any brown person in any white neighborhood could be shot on sight on "Stand MY Ground" "principles," and the shooter offering as defense for their doing so, by saying that based on what's now going on, killing a brown person on sight was not an unreasonable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

@Steve M.

Those are crack pots and nut jobs. If you want to rely on crack pots and nut jobs to get things done that's on you.

Either way, even talking about gun violence or climate change prior to fixing economic issues is a massive waste of time for us. We're going to focus on too many things rather than the critical one. We'll get less and have only ourselves to blame for not getting anything done.

Steve M. said...

Fine -- I'd like economic issues to be front and center, too. The point of this post is not to recommend that Democrats push guns to the top of the agenda -- it's to say that people misread polls about guns and expect pols to experience fallout for loosening gun laws.

Philo Vaihinger said...

It's perfectly legal to go armed in many public places such as saloons and restaurants in many states.

But proprietors have a right to ban then in their establishments, in PA, for example.

Luigi said...

All states that have Stand your ground laws should be made to train, educate, and arm minorities. That'll stop this shit right there.