As Woody Allen is credited with observing, 80% of success is just showing up. And if you want a simple, distilled explanation of why Second Amendment supporters tend to prevail over time, that’s it in a nutshell. The anti-gun side is good for whipping up short-term outrage and maybe a telegenic protest or two, but when it comes to defending our right to keep and bear arms in inboxes and at the polls, the pro-gun rights side has a great batting average.
That fact of political life is exactly why Delaware gun owners aren’t staring down the barrel of a new “assault weapons” ban. When it came time for the Delaware senate to consider the measure earlier this week . . .
If you want to know why Delaware Democrats couldn’t even get an assault weapons ban on the Senate floor for a vote, here’s why: Gun owners are the ones who showed up.
Look no further than the packed Senate chambers on Tuesday’s vote. Opponents of the ban far outnumbered supporters.
It’s true that in the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, the anti-gun side has had some success ramming though new bump stock bans, long gun age restrictions and even the occasional assault weapons ban. They’ve even been able to do this in some states previously thought to be safe from such measures.
But as this week’s Delaware experience shows, when gun owners flex their collective muscle, even anti-gun politicians pay attention.
Gun owners turned out in force at public forums and were far more vocal on social media. And I consistently heard that lawmakers were getting more emails and phone calls opposing the bill than supporting it.
Sure, there were active, passionate advocates who worked hard in support of the assault weapons ban. But in terms of consistent engagement, they were badly outnumbered.
What did all that pressure do when it came time for a vote?
The result was clear. Not one Republican crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, not even the ones in vulnerable districts who sometimes vote for gun control bills. Even if one had “flipped,” the bill still would have died — both Democrats whose districts are below the canal voted no.
That’s right, two Democrats voted against bringing the ban bill to the floor. As we’ve seen time and again . . .
(J)ust because people support something doesn’t mean they are going to go out and fight for it, or that they will vote based on that issue. And, as a practical political matter, polls are no substitute for direct, active engagement with lawmakers, at least at the local level.
This has long been the reality of gun politics in America. Enthusiasm for gun control waxes when there are mass shootings but soon wanes. Gun owners’ enthusiasm, on the other hand, is reliable and consistent.