New Strategy for Dems backdoor approach to effect Gun Control - Frontal attack not working well. : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

They will not give up. The objective remains the same, the tactics are subject to change, as needed. Just a heads-up, I'm sure we will be hearing new "buzz" words and jargon flowing from the mouths of the talking heads.....yuck, phewy, ick, ick, ick!!!!

New Dem Daily | DLC | August 2, 2001 A Third Way on Guns

One of the exit poll numbers from the 2000 elections that just leapt off the page was the finding that 48 percent of voters lived in households with guns. These voters went for George W. Bush by nearly a two-to-one margin. This "gun gap" dwarfed other variables, such as gender, marital status, religious observance, and family income.

The National Rifle Association was quick to take credit for mobilizing gun owners -- especially the non-college educated white men that both campaigns heavily targeted -- and getting them to vote for Bush. Many Democrats, especially in the U.S. House, have publicly called on party leaders to just shut up on the gun issue and appeal to gun-owning voters on economic matters instead.

But the latest issue of Blueprint magazine offers an analysis that urges Democrats and centrist Republicans to change the terms of debate on gun issues instead of changing the subject. Jonathan Cowan and Jim Kessler of Americans for Gun Safety argue persuasively that the old, stale debate between pro-gun absolutists and anti-gun advocates of gun control unnecessarily polarizes the population, plays into the hands of the NRA, and ignores a "third way" position that actually commands strong majority support among Americans, whether or not they own guns.

This "third way," they suggest, involves a "gun policy that treats gun ownership as neither an absolute right nor an absolute wrong and that calls for a balance between gun rights and gun responsibilities." That means making "gun owners partners in developing policies that help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and make guns safer in the home."

Indeed, Democrats during much of the Clinton Administration implicitly embraced this "third way" approach, focusing on initiatives like the Brady Law that did not challenge widespread private gun ownership but simply sought to limit it to law-abiding citizens. But then two things happened to change the debate.

First, the Columbine tragedy emboldened gun-control advocates to make a major new push for federal and state anti-gun legislation.

Second, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominating contest produced something of a gun-control competition between the candidates, with former Senator Bill Bradley proposing national gun registration, and Vice President Al Gore countering with a proposal for national licensing of gun owners.

This positioning of Democrats as a party favoring sweeping national gun control legislation was what the NRA had been praying for. For many years, the heart of the NRA's message to gun-owning Americans had been that any proposal for any kind of restrictions on the use or distribution of firearms was motivated by a hidden but intense desire to first register all guns nationally, and then confiscate them. In 2000, the NRA was able to claim that Democrats were openly espousing the first step down the slippery slope to a ban on private gun ownership.

And Democrats unwittingly played into to this NRA strategy. Joe Lockhart, President Clinton's press secretary at that time, confirmed this in a Washington Post op-ed earlier this week that strongly echoed the Cowan-Kessler analysis in Blueprint: "At my urging, the White House allowed the NRA to shift the debate away from common-sense safety measures to a demagogic debate on the right to own firearms. We managed to bring the White House and the President down to the level of the NRA, rather than raising the debate in a way that would have made the NRA irrelevant."

Cowan, Kessler, and Lockhart alike point to an alternative progressive strategy on guns, reflected in the successful 2000 state initiatives in Colorado and Oregon aimed at requiring background checks at gun shows -- one of the largest loopholes in the current system of keeping guns out of the hands of ex-cons, violent sociopaths, or irresponsible kids. At the federal level, a similar strategy is being pursued in a bill introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) that would close the gun-show loophole on a national basis. The main thrust of the new strategy is to focus on gun safety, not gun control, and to appeal to the vast majority of gun owners who acknowledge the need for responsible gun ownership.

The "gun safety" message also helps make an obvious point about guns that has been obscured in the polarized debate over gun rights versus gun control: guns are dangerous consumer products that can and should be regulated like other dangerous consumer products. A country that sees nothing particularly wrong with requiring child-proof caps on bottles of aspirin or other mild pain-killers should also see nothing particularly wrong about requiring child-proof trigger locks on lethal weapons, especially as they become more technologically feasible and less expensive. Gun safety requirements do not imply an ultimate intention to ban guns any more than prescription or over-the-counter drug safety requirements suggest a sinister plot to ban Tylenol.

Because the NRA obdurately opposes gun safety measures, promoting them while defending the right of responsible private gun ownership exposes the underlying extremism of the gun lobby. Why does the NRA oppose treating guns like Tylenol? Because many of its leaders not-so-secretly endorse the view that guns are special: that the primary purpose of the Second Amendment is to provide for an armed-to-the-teeth citizenry prepared to undertake the violent overthrow of the U.S. government in case "liberals" threaten our liberties to an intolerable degree.

This view, while popular among some hyper-libertarians and paranoid leftists (and the dwindling ranks of the militia movement), is decidedly not shared by most gun owners. As Cowan and Kessler point out, "65 percent of gun owners and 61 percent of the Americans who view the NRA favorably agree that gun rights and reasonable gun restrictions can coexist," and "70 percent of Americans believe that gun-safety laws should be 'more strict.'"

It's time for progressives to stop helping Charlton Heston with their adherence to the old debate on guns, and instead get into a debate where the progressive position is the one with the powerful support of the American people -- leaving the gun lobby in the extremist fever swamps where they belong.

-- wendy_graceacres (, August 26, 2001


I would be in favor of a gun law that stops ONLY criminals from obtaining and using a gun.

Question is, how do you accomplish this AND not stop the legal use by private citizens?

The definition of a criminal is someone who is intent on breaking a law. Redefining the problem is not going to change that. I was strongly encouraged by Wayne La Pierre when he publicly and forcefully made the point that President Clinton was able to be comfortable with some degree of gun misuse, so that gun control advocates could call for stricter and stricter controls. When denounced by the press and administration, he didn't back down. He stated the facts and dared them to refute them. Last I heard, he is still waiting for 'their' facts.

Some of us will be able to justify in our minds some degree of gun control is needed. I mean that if we don't own that 'type' of firearm, why should we stand up for it. My answer is our children and grandchildren futures demands that we are vigilant is making sure any gun control measures only affect the criminal, not the law abiding citizen. An armed population are citizens; an unarmed population are subjects (a paraphrased commonly used saying; I'm not smart enough to make the point clearer).

-- j.r. guerra (, August 27, 2001.

Could not agree more, jr!! Well said!!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, August 28, 2001.

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