If the last decade of culture war has taught us anything, it’s that the Left has become extraordinarily good at shaming America into political change. On issues from same-sex marriage to transgender rights, once the Left persuaded itself of the proper course of action, the unified power of media, pop culture, and the academy proceeded to deliver the proper cultural scolding. America was divided into the good people and the bigots, and no one should respect a bigot.
Consider this: In the last ten years of movies and television, have you seen a truly sympathetic portrayal of a religious opponent of same-sex marriage? When Bruce Jenner announced his “transition,” how much did the mainstream media or even the sports establishment entertain the idea that he might not be “liberated” but rather deeply troubled? There was no nuance in the discussion, and suddenly the “extremists” were the people who believed that biology was relevant to gender.
The next level of stigma is comparing the NRA to jihadists and its leaders to terrorists. The argument isn’t that the NRA advances bad ideas. No, they’re bad people — the worst kind of people, in fact.
At least not yet, answers the Left. Gay marriage was arguably less popular 20 years ago than the Australian gun buyback is today, yet look where we are now. Cultural change is happening fast, and why not aim at the real problem — American gun culture and the very notion of a true individual right to keep and bear arms?
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Boiled down to its essence, gun owners perceive the Left to be telling them that they’re terrible people for wanting to defend their families. They perceive the Left to be telling them that their government is worth trusting with their very lives. They perceive the Left to be describing them as “dangerous,” when they’d be willing to lay down their lives to protect their families, their friends, and even complete strangers who are being victimized by evil men.The shame campaign will succeed, however, at further dividing and sorting Americans. With the Second Amendment one Supreme Court justice away from dramatic revision (including effective repeal), we could conceivably face a scenario where there are effectively two Americas. Gun-owning Americans in the bluest states would watch their legislatures race to impose ever-stricter regulations, including confiscation, while Red America would maintain broad state constitutional and statutory protections. Driving across state lines would be even more perilous than it is today.
America’s gun culture is a key aspect of American culture — imprinted within our cultural and moral DNA. Millennials and their parents support gun rights in similar proportions, and while mainstream pop-culture hostility against gun ownership is strong and growing stronger, so too is the self-reliant American counterculture that believes government is accountable to an armed citizenry and that the first responsibility for self-defense lies not with the police but with the adults in the home. You simply can’t mock those beliefs out of the American public. The Left will try, it will fail, and America will become even more fractious because of its attempt.