What the movement against alcohol, as well as the movements against abortion and tobacco, managed to do that the movement for gun control didn't -- at least until recently -- was figure out a message that would trump the classical liberal assumption that liberty is paramount. That message: Regulating liberty is necessary to protect children. The gun-control forces didn't embrace such maternalistic rhetoric until 2000, when a coterie of suburban women organized the massive Million Mom March in Washington and nearly 70 cities around the country.This is the shape of the war we may indeed face after November. Local gun control organizing has been in some areas successful...the U.S. Forest Service actions that I helped bring to light are a good example.
The 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, near Denver, and the Million Mom March a year later helped change that thinking. While the press branded the march a flop -- because Congress didn't respond and because the march's organizational shell imploded -- the moms actually succeeded in two core ways. They helped persuade national gun-control leaders that local organizing was viable, and they laid the groundwork for a nation-spanning gun-control movement. In late 2001, the nation's largest gun-control group, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, adopted the struggling Million Mom March chapters, giving the national lobby an organized network of grass-roots activists for the first time in its 27-year history. The other major gun-control lobby, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (formerly the Coalition to Ban Handguns), likewise turned its attention to raising money for and working with state gun-control groups during the 1990s and beyond.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Know Your Enemy Redux
Here's an article that all of us in the gun lobby should read. It's from the Chronicle of Higher Education, via the High Road, and written by Kristin Goss, whose book Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America, is the operating "play book" for our enemies: