Gun control will likely remain a hot topic in American politics for years to come. It’s a shame, too, because gun control isn’t what we actually need if we want to combat violent crime.
Most gun owners know this on a very deep level. After all, they recognize that inhibiting their ability t buy a gun won’t interfere with a criminal’s ability to get one on the black market.
But over at the Washington Post, they’re hopeful that gun owners will take a very different stand. In a piece titled, “Will Gun Owners Fight for Stronger Gun Laws?” they tout a group being pushed by two former NRA lobbyists.
For more than a year, Belke had been working as a lobbyist for the NRA. From an early age, guns had been a part of her life. She’d grown up in Butte, Mont., where her father was president of the local gun club. He’d given her a Chipmunk 22 LR Rifle, a youth-sized firearm, for her eighth birthday, and their primary father-daughter activity was to shoot targets at the range together. As was common for children in Montana, according to Belke, she was forbidden from touching guns in the house under normal circumstances — but was also taught how to shoot in response to a human or animal threat. “These are not toys,” her father would tell her. “The second you disrespect this firearm you will wind up dead.”
About seven years later, Belke was working as an attorney when she got an Instagram direct message from Amanda Carpenter, a conservative CNN commentator who was a longtime reader of Belke’s fashion blog and followed her on Instagram. Carpenter told Belke about a new organization called 97Percent. The name refers to a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, which found that 97 percent of American voters— and the same percentage of gun owners — support universal background checks. The group, founded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Adam and Staci Miller, promotes pragmatic gun-policy reforms — with a twist: Their principal goal is to engage gun owners in the conversation. In polls and focus groups, they say they have found that gun owners are more amenable to reforms than most Americans believe. To make real progress on the issue, they argue, gun owners must be at the table.
The organization had approached Carpenter, known as a moderate and a strong communicator, about joining the advisory board. She didn’t have time, but she thought of Belke, who had recently posted a series of Instagram videos answering questions about gun ownership. Belke was open to the idea and talked to executive director Matt Littman. “I said I’m interested in doing this, but I’m not going to do it by myself.” She didn’t want to be the “token gun owner” on the board. She invited John Goodwin, another former NRA lobbyist, to join as well.
So, we’re supposed to be impressed that a couple of people who supposedly worked for the NRA–the NRA won’t discuss personnel matters with the media–have decided to work for the other side?
First, let’s understand a few things here.
This group is founded based on a lie. That poll they refer to is, at best, questionable. 97 percent of people may have responded a certain way, but that poll asked the wrong questions. Many of those who they say support gun control likely thought they were supporting the status quo.
I’m also skeptical of Belke’s story, to be quite honest.
Oh, I can understand someone being critical of LaPierre’s comments and wanting nothing to do with them. People have different preferences with regard to tone or whatever.
But if someone is vehemently pro-gun–so much so that they work as a lobbyist for the NRA–then why didn’t they continue along in the pro-gun sphere, maybe with a group with a less bombastic personality at the helm?
Now, in fairness, she may be telling us the absolute truth as she sees it. But the truth is that for whatever reason, she’s not someone who continues to support gun rights.
97Percent, however, is different than most anti-gun groups because they want to sway gun owners. That’s novel, of course, because while Brady and Giffords may say they want to as well, their rhetoric is designed specifically to push gun owners as far away as humanly possible.
Yet what all these people are missing is that none of this works.
For example, the writer–who admits they’re anti-gun and a supporter of this effort–argues that 97Percent uses evidence-based policy recommendations. However, what evidence? Back in March, Cam discussed a piece from Reason that basically rips apart every bit of gun research. So how can you provide evidence-based recommendations when there’s really no evidence?
What they’re hoping for here is that they can put up their token former NRA lobbyists and say, “See? We’re just like you,” but at the end of the day, they’re like any other gun control group.
If they get what they’re currently asking for, they’re not going to just go away. They’ll ask for something else instead. They, like Brady or Giffords or Everytown, will just keeping asking for more and more until there’s nothing else left.
And for what? For policies that we really don’t have any evidence of them working?
No, gun owners don’t want anything to do with such a group. It’s the same old song and dance in a shiny new outfit. That’s all it is.
This is the Disney live-action remake of the original animated gun control group. It’s not any different, just dressed up to trick people into thinking it is.