Why Do Gun-Rights Supporters Win When Other Conservative Causes Lose?

by Jim Geraghty

From the Thursday Morning Jolt:

Why Do Gun Rights Supporters Win When Other Conservative Causes Lose?

Today I’m off to Indianapolis for the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, with a few questions on my mind.

The past two decades have not been a cavalcade of successes for conservatives. The national debt has grown and exploded, and Americans support a smaller government in the abstract but keep electing lawmakers who love to spend more. There’s little or no stigma left to accepting government assistance, and 108 million Americans now live in a household that included people on “one or more means-tested program.” As Charles Murray noted, the white working class now endures problems on par with poor African-American neighborhoods, with high rates of births out of wedlock, children raised in homes without fathers, higher unemployment, lower church attendance rates. A culture of “delayed adolescence” is taking root, with more than a third of Millennials living with their parents and exceptionally high unemployment rates among the young, delaying the launch of careers and independent, responsible adulthood. After we paid a high price in blood and treasure in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world seems as dangerous and unstable as ever. Our borders are unsecured, and there isn’t even a national consensus that entering the country illegally should be punished with a serious consequence.

And yet, in the middle of all this, the gun-rights movement has won, or is in the process of winning, one of the most substantive, far-reaching, and consequential policy victories in recent memory. They’ve won big at the Supreme Court, and we’ve seen gun-control proposal after gun-control proposal get rejected in the legislatures, state and national. Polls show tepid support for gun control, darting up after a horror like Newtown and then sliding back down again. Meanwhile, gun owners and their allies have proven, on regular election days, recalls and pre-emptive resignations, a stunning power to defeat lawmakers they oppose. Deep-pocketed foes like Mike Bloomberg spend fortunes, with little to show for it, at least so far.

So why are progressives so stymied here? What is the gun-rights movement doing right that the rest of the conservative movement can or should emulate? Or is the Second Amendment defenders’ success unique to their issue?

Put another way, gun owners are right, and quickly recognized that this administration and most of its congressional allies will ignore, disregard, subvert, and seek to effectively nullify the Second Amendment.

Of course, this same administration tossed a filmmaker in jail because they needed a scapegoat for the Benghazi attack and had the Internal Revenue Service target Americans based upon their political beliefs, suggesting they don’t care much about the First Amendment.

Then again, Obama’s NSA pretty much shredded the Fourth Amendment.

The assertion that the American government can execute an American citizen by drone strike, without a trial, more or less vaporizes the Fifth Amendment’s declaration that “No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and the Sixth Amendment’s assurance of a right to a speedy trial. While only one American has been targeted by the administration’s drone-centric war on terror, one may conclude the preference for killing as opposed to capture constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, violating the Eighth Amendment. (Justice Scalia joked that being forced to read Obamacare’s text constituted cruel and unusual punishment.) Of course, the president’s policies have tried to dictate all kinds of policies to the states, smashing the Tenth Amendment’s declaration that “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

To give President Obama credit, he hasn’t attempted to quarter U.S. troops in our homes yet, so he’s managed to leave a few corners of the Bill of Rights intact. For now.

If the NRA and like-minded groups can get millions upon millions of Americans motivated and determined to preserve and protect one portion of the Constitution . . . how do we get folks fired up for the rest of it?