National Review’s Jim Geraghty posed a pointed question from the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting this weekend: Why do gun-rights supporters win when other conservative causes lose?
And in fact over the past 20 years, gun advocates have scored an astounding string of successes:
- All 50 states now issue concealed-carry permits to allow approved gun owners to carry firearms into public places. In many states, permit holders may carry guns even into bars and non-TSA-patrolled areas of airports.
- In 2008, gun advocates persuaded the Supreme Court to overrule a century of precedent and redefine the Second Amendment not as a right of state governments to form militias but as an individual right to acquire private firearms.
- Gun advocates persuaded Congress in 2004 to let lapse the Clinton-era ban on assault rifles. In the mid-1990s, they voted to halt government research into the public-health effects of gun ownership when that research yielded uncongenial evidence.
- No crime or atrocity, not even the massacre of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, has checked the strong trend of U.S. public policy to make ever more lethal weapons ever more easily available to ever more people, including people with histories of domestic violence.
So congratulations to the NRA: mission accomplished!
Even more impressive, this string of victories was scored as gun ownership in America tumbled. Only about one-third of American households now own a gun, compared to about one-half in 1973. Much of this decline can be traced to the fading of hunting as an American pastime. Only about 6 percent of Americans hunt even once in a year. That’s just slightly more than the number who attended a ballet performance: 3.9 percent.