In a surprising development, both Congressional Republicans and the NRA seem to be in agreement that further regulations are needed to curb the use of “bump stock” rifle modifications that simulate fully automatic fire. A new bill, introduced by Republicans, is set to hit the floor in a few days that would ban the sale of these mods.
So, if you recall my article from the other day, it looks like my prediction on the development of gun control legislation in the wake was backwards. It would appear that my dumb brain couldn’t understand Breitbart’s stupid sarcastic retweets, and that Bannon and his merry band of (alleged) Nazis will make things quite difficult for the President if he decides to go after gun “rights”.
I must say, I should have seen this coming because the NRA and Congressional Republicans have starkly different goals from Breitbart, Infowars, et al regarding their stance on gun “rights.” Allow me to elaborate:
The NRA and GOP legislators both want the same thing: money. The GOP wants money from the NRA, and the NRA wants money for the big firearm manufacturers that it represents. No matter what they say, I assure you that the end goal is selling people guns and getting reelected; it’s first grade stuff, really.
And if we assume that their primary goal is to keep the gravy train running, it’s easy to see why they would tolerate some minor regulations on gun modifications, since part of what makes them so much money is their public image. If their gun advocacy gets to the point of appearing to be irresponsible, then the public starts blaming them for shootings and the gravy train derails.
The alt-right, on the other hand, is worried about cultural warfare. These are the guys that really, truly believe that the reason we need guns is to protect ourselves from government overreach. I, frankly, have always found this a bit silly.
One, I don’t think Obama is gonna come back for a third term and start rounding up all the white people or anything like that. Two, if we assume that the apocalypse bunker people are right and the government is going to start rounding people up, how on Earth are a bunch of 55 year-old fat dudes with semi-auto AR-15s going to protect themselves from trained soldiers with full-auto guns, artillery, tanks and drones?
And three, the Constitution isn’t infallible. Obviously it’s the law of the land, but it’s changeable for a reason and in many cases I think it’s ridiculous to apply 18th century thinking to 21st century problems. I’m not saying we should throw out the Constitution and start from scratch, I’m just saying that we don’t have to bury our heads in the sand about major national security issues just because some guys (who also said slavery was all gucci, mind you) wanted to make sure state militias were sufficiently armed with single-shot muskets.
In other words, Steve Bannon and the alt-right couldn’t care less about the NRA making money or Republicans winning re-election. They want gun owners to really, truly believe that the left is coming for their guns and their families, which in turn will drive up Breitbart’s pageviews as well as support for anti-establishment candidates.
This puts The Donald in a really tough position. Based on his tweet history, we know that deep down he isn’t all that concerned about gun rights. I highly doubt that he’s ever owned a gun, and as a private citizen he probably wouldn’t mind that much if guns were off the streets. But as the ever insightful Harry Enten points out, the US is more polarized on guns than is it on pretty much any other issue. Trump is sitting on a razor’s edge right now since he hasn’t officially taken a stance on this prospective gun control legislation, and once he chooses a side that will pretty much be it, so it really just boils down to what he perceives as being a stronger coalition of voters.