The Rebranding Of The Gun-Control Movement

From America’s First Freedom:

What Milbank doesn’t realize, or doesn’t want to acknowledge, is that none of this is new. The gun-control movement has rebranded itself several times. In fact, Milbank’s piece highlights the Brady Campaign To End Gun Violence without ever mentioning the fact that the organization has had several names, including the National Council to Control Handguns and Handgun Control Inc. (it didn’t formally become the Brady Campaign until 2001). Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the stated goal was to ban the possession of handguns, and the movement saw success in Washington, D.C., and a few years later in Chicago. Voters, however, rejected bans on the ownership or sales of handguns in statewide votes in both Massachusetts and California, and soon after the movement began shifting away from calling for outright bans on handguns (while still supporting bans already in place) in favor of more “modest” goals.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Brady Campaign renewed its push for a gun ban, only this time instead of handguns the group went after long guns they themselves designated as “assault weapons”. As the decade-long Clinton Gun Ban was set to expire in 2004, supporters in the gun-control movement couldn’t point to any real public push to extend the ban. After the murders in Newtown in 2012, President Barack Obama called for a permanent ban on semi-automatic rifles, but couldn’t get his bill through Congress. The gun-control movement once again retreated into a position where supporters still support the ban in principle, but don’t want to make it a legislative priority. That will last until they once again believe they can get a ban through Congress.

In truth, the movement has been rebranding itself for the past 30 years, constantly shifting its legislative focus on what seems to be polling best, recycling through a laundry list of “approaches” (the “public health approach,” the “reducing violent crime approach,” the “gun safety approach”) while remaining faithful to the movement’s core dogmatic belief: More guns means more crime. Even as crime rates fell beginning in the mid-1990s, the movement’s faith in that mantra remained strong. Today, activists and politicians in the movement can declare in the same breath that they’re not anti-gun, we have too many guns in this country, we should take a cue from Australia (where guns were banned and owners were told to turn them in), but how dare you suggest they want to take guns away.

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