Some Chicago gangs turning to rifles for added firepower, police say the headline at chicagotribune.com proclaims. As you can probably guess from the word “some” in the title, the anti-gun rights Trib is making a mountain out of a molehill. To wit: this bit of info appearing in the 49th paragraph . . .
Rifle seizures are still rare and didn’t crack the list of the 20 most-seized types of guns in 2014, according to the latest breakdown from the Police Department.
Needless to say, this “alternative fact” didn’t stop The Trib from waving the bloody shirt, chronicling the few examples they could find of gangland shootings where a rifle was the weapon of choice.
The article increases my suspicion that anti-gunners are in retreat. With the ongoing restoration of carry rights in the hinterlands, with the hinterlands rejecting the anti-gun Democratic Party, the antis may be returning to their “assault weapon” hysteria.
During the late 60’s and 70’s, race riots swept the nation. The illegal drug epidemic sparked bloody gang wars, armed conflicts that make Chicago’s current death toll seem like the outlier it is.
The gun control movement was all about pistols. (Lest we forget, The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence started life as The National Council to Control Handguns.) The antis used racist fears and the prevalence of cheap “Saturday Night Specials” to justify their campaign to ban handguns (except for the police).
Flash forward to today and political climate has changed radically. Racism has been greatly reduced. Gun rights restoration has been greatly increased. A far more aggressive NRA has also made tremendous inroads, institutionalizing political support for Second Amendment protections.
Bottom line: handgun ownership has been normalized.
Not as much as The People of the Gun would like. Not as much as it should be, or will be in time. But no matter how much support the antis garner for “background checks” or magazine limits, they are losing the all-important culture war.
Handguns are no longer the sole purview of criminals and revolutionaries. The advent of spree killers and terrorists hasn’t stopped the process. If anything it’s added to the average American’s desire to tool-up. With a handgun.
At the same time as handgun sales rose to eclipse rifle sales, AR-style rifle sales have soared. For the antis, AR’s proved an easier target. “No one needs a ‘weapon of war,'” they cried. Look at those spree killers! They’re using AR’s (except when they’re not)!
The argument found fertile ground. The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (a.k.a., assault weapon ban) was enacted in 1994. Sunsetted in 2004, it was the last major federal gun control law of our time.
Despite its inclusion in the 2016 Democratic Party platform, the chances of a renewed “assault weapon” ban are currently nil. Not just because Republicans control the legislature and the presidency. Because the AR-15 is now America’s most popular long gun.
Yes, several states have banned “modern sporting rifles.” Yes, the courts have [so far] upheld these bans. But just as handguns have entered the mainstream, so have ARs. And just as handguns have become “normalized” so have AR-15s.
Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t step in to uphold the Second Amendment’s protection against anti-AR state legislation, the cultural battlefield belongs to millions of AR owners. Put another way, the AR-shaped genie isn’t going back in the bottle.
But what else can gun control advocates do but assail “assault weapons”? It’s still an easier target than the now-common handgun. The only target? Not quite; “high-capacity magazines” and “universal background checks” are high on that list. But close enough.
Which is why The Trib has turned its attention to gangland rifle use: to scare voters whose support for gun control is weakening. Will they be successful? Yes and no. But, I suspect, more no than yes.