Joe Huffman of The View From North Central Idaho and the majordomo of the Boomershoots has emerged as an important voice in the gun blogosphere, and I think today's column shows why...this is the guts of the column, but read the whole thing:
I recognize open carry is on the path to victory but I figured it would be in the form of open carry at picnics, highway litter cleanup, and maybe as an organization at parades. People need to be desensitized to gun ownership. And concealed carry just doesn't help that much. When and how we do that desensitization can matter a great deal.The title to this blogpost says it all: Have We Won? Hell of a question, and it says a lot that a major gun rights support can even ask it. After 8 years of Republican control, ostensibly people who were on our side and who owed their positions to our votes, I am awed at how far we've come since the Boy King ascended to the throne. Frankly, I expected (and predicted) the opposite. I underestimated the strength of the Blue Dog Democrats; I also underestimated the power of the message delivered by the open carry movement.
I've been open carrying in a few circumstances for a couple months now (here and here). There has been no obvious notice taken and certainly no adverse effects have occurred. Yet, had anyone asked my advice about open carry at a political protest about the nationalization of health care I would have told them I didn't see any good could come out of it. Obviously these people didn't ask for my advice or take similar advice from someone else.
In my opinion these people took a huge risk. They were throwing the dice in a game that affected tens of millions of people in this country. I'm not exactly risk adverse, after all I play with explosives for the fun of it and even have my children help make the explosives. But I wouldn't have taken the risk they did.
And what happened? It's as if we had been slowly advancing against the enemy. We were a little surprised to win the battle on carry in National Parks and we almost won a battle for nationwide reciprocity we couldn't have imagined even coming up for a vote had we thought about it after the election last November. But the enemy was still putting up resistance and we thought they were still formidable opponents. Then they collapsed. The White House (or Red Shed as a commenter recently called it) said it was no big deal to open carry. Public opinion is affected by statements from the White House. Having the most anti-gun administration in U.S. history say it's no big deal to open carry is huge.
I think Joe is right on talking about our enemies...I have said for years that they was truly no national antigun "movement." Rather, that "movement" was an amalgam of strident liberal elite/socialist voices in four major urban areas — Washington DC, New York, Chicago and LA — coupled with an unprecedented consensus on the part of the mainstream media (MSM). The MSM "adopted" gun control/gun confiscation as their pet topic...it both fit their preconceptions and allowed them a battleground to show the liberal elite what the MSM could do if they really put their ink-serfs to it (and willingly abandoned all their much-vaunted principles).
The antigun organizations were on the ropes by last year's election. Fund-raising had collapsed; there were layoffs and consolidations. Calls for "mass demonstrations" couldn't even turn up enough people to fill a cocktail party. Despite Brady's endless drumbeat of the Boy King's election as a "referendum on sensible gun laws," it became obvious that the rank and file of the Democratic Party wanted to get as far away from gun control as possible.
A series of critical missteps on gun control have, in effect, blown up in the faces of antigun forces. The ridiculous Mexican assertions, which instead of turning into a stirring grassroots call for gun control turned into a boiling poo-storm of dueling statistics and a message of "stay the hell out of our country's business" to the Narco-republic of Mexico. Attorney General Holder's call for a new AWB backfired on a huge level, virtually ending any consideration of a new AWB during this administration and helping to add millions of new gunowners.
The main talking point that came out of the narrow loss of the Thune Amendment on national concealed carry reciprocity and the success on guns in national parks was that concealed carry was no big deal. No "Dodge City Shootouts in the Street;" no people losing their tempers and opening fire, none of the antigun hype promulgated by the MSM.
NO • BIG • DEAL
In other words, normalization of the carrying of firearms. The open carry movement was able to build on that platform, and it is building faster than any of us imagined. Those of us who have been in the trenches for a log time are suffering from a bit of paradigm paralysis...we fought so hard to get here, and you want do do what? Of course there was a similar paradigm paralysis when we began the concealed carry battle back in Florida, and look how that turned out.
So to Joe's question, have we won? I'm old school and come down on the side of that old saw, we have not won until there is no enemy...
But we definitely do need to move to a consolidation phase, making sure our victories are absolutely positively nailed down. We need to cement our relationship with progun Democrats and complete the severing of gun rights from anyone else's agenda. We need to reach out to conservative...no, libertarian...Republicans and explain to them that we are not the crazy uncles in the closet, to be pandered to for 6 weeks before an election, then ignored for the next 4 years. We need to make it clear that dismissing our agenda, which is exactly what happened for 8 years of Bush, will no longer be tolerated. Our votes are no longer guaranteed — think nationally; vote locally!
We need to prepare for the "new" smaller, more mobile battlefield, as state and federal agencies headed by antigun zealots act autonomously on a local or regional scale. For example, the USFS refuses to comment on why it is keeping the largest shooting range in southern Colorado closed...the proposed new head of OSHA is an admitted antigun zealot...we must be even more vigilant of localized attacks on our rights that can be spun into a national agenda.
Finally, we Old School guys must embrace the nascent open carry movement. I remember some of the arguments among ourselves back in the Florida days — "So you want to carry a gun all the time? Isn't that taking things a bit too far?" Too far? The concealed carry movement turned out to be the most important of our movement, because it became the tipping point on the normalization of guns. It has also saved a lot of lives.
It's a new day, with all the promise and risks any new day brings. Thanks for putting this important subject on the table, Joe!