A reader called our attention to this excellent article about AstroTurf “reasonable” gun control organizations that are allegedly run by pro-gun individuals. This post was originally published in November of 2015.
The reason for the anti-NRA sentiment among gun people that I mentioned above (that the NRA is soft on gun rights, hence a stronger org is needed) is that up until very recently the NRA was soft on gun rights. The NRA supported the original Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), and they compromised on a host of other gun control initiatives going all the way back to their support for the National Firearms Act of 1934.
But the AWB was the last straw for rank-and-file gun owners. Why? Because it was a massive pain that even the New York Times admits did absolutely nothing to curb gun violence. In fact (it couldn’t) possibly have really been intended to do so given that only about two percent of gun deaths every year have ever been attributable to long guns, and assault rifles are only a fraction of long guns.
By banning popular cosmetic features and specific models of semi-automatic long guns, the AWB succeeded in insulting, angering, and ultimately radicalizing gun owners while doing absolutely nothing about the drug-related handgun violence that accounts for the vast majority of gun homicides.
When the AWB finally expired in 2004, thanks to a sunset clause that a few hard-liners had thankfully forced the NRA to demand by way of compromise, gun owners had had enough. “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice… won’t get fooled again,” as the saying goes.
Because gun control advocates at the peak of their early ’90’s power and influence decided to spend all of their capital on a (farcical, totally ineffective) piece of feel-good regulation (that used aesthetic features to restrict guns that only law-abiding gun owners ever buy and criminals almost never use), they created tons of ill will with the very crowd that they’re now trying to reach with astroturf efforts like [ed: now defunct] ACRGO, and they radicalized the NRA leadership by first radicalizing the rank-and-file so that they forced the organization to grow a spine.
Before I go on, stop and let the madness of all this sink in: by some estimates the much-vilified AR-15 accounts for only about 14 percent of rifles, and rifles haven’t accounted for more than 350 gun deaths in any year since 2009 (the number declines every year, so in 1994 it would have been a bit higher). So the gun control lobby put up a major legislative fight, spent its political and financial capital, and burnt its bridges with “reasonable” gun owners in order to enact a partial ban on an extremely popular subcategory of firearms that accounts for at most about 50 deaths a year.
And then after Sandy Hook (when the data was well and truly conclusive on just how pointless the original AWB had been and with gun control enjoying the kind of broad surge of public support that it hadn’t seen in some 25 years), the same cast of characters wasted all of that newfound momentum on trying to pass another assault weapons ban! This kind of irrational behavior is the very definition of insanity. And these folks accuse gun people of being irrational and driven solely by emotions.
The whole gun control thing comes down to this: If you’re gonna kill the king, you gotta kill the king. If you loudly declare that you intend to kill the king, but end up only giving him a painful wedgie, then you’re just stupid and you’ve got it coming to you once the king recovers. Or at least, that’s the lesson that gun control advocates should have drawn from their past two decades of failure.
But I think the lesson they’ve actually drawn is that you can’t openly threaten to kill the king; instead, you have to insist that you only want to give the king an itty bitty wedgie–not even a power wedgie or a swirly, just a little friendly wedgie, for his own good–so that you can get close enough to him to stick a knife in his back. But the king is still sore from that last wedgie that was supposed to kill him, and he’s on to your lame tricks, fool.
— Jon Stokes in Why “Moderate” Pro-Gun Groups like ACRGO Always Fail