Second Amendment Despair?

That certainly seemed to be on Dave Diephouse’s mind when he read Burton Newman’s The NRA’s Fraud: Fabrication of Second Amendment Rights

How many times does it have to be said?

But should we despair?

Interpretation of Second Amendment is nonetheless social in nature. There is no reason one needs to (or should) accept the understanding of the Second from the gun lobby. There is no reason to think that such extremist interpretations are anything other than social constructions, a product of their time, and if so, then as social constructions they are liable to change. For activists the question is of keeping heart, of hope.

On that score, a couple of items come to mind.

First, there is the matter of demographics. by most surveys, gun owners generally represent a decreasing portion of the American public: white, male, and often financially stable.  This is the same shrinking political base that drives other maximalist positions, such as the Tea Party. The signs of this sectarian turn are all around, not least in the current environment where the gun advocate reject positions he once held.  That’s not principle at work, but politics. And politics can be changed.

Second, there is the electoral problem for the gun crowd, as Ronald Brownstein  pointed out: no matter how fervently held, their positions are a losing hand in when it comes to national elections. Again the turn to a variety of rearguard political actions from the likes of ALEC (most notorioulsy, the Stand Your Ground legislation, but there are others) ought to be seen as the sign of political weakness that it is.

The difficulty with all extremist positions is how they routinely differ from lived reality. That difference from the common life coupled with the desire to win elections, creates its own gravitational pull to the center, and better policies. That said, since this is also the process of a decade or longer, and certainly not the stuff of one or two election cycles.

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