As reported by Instapundit last week:
‘Gun-control advocates are seriously losing public opinion. Well, good. “What’s most striking in Pew’s new data is that views have shifted more in favor of gun rights since then among nearly every demographic group, including women, blacks, city-dwellers, parents, college graduates, millennials and independents. The two groups that haven’t budged? Hispanics and liberal Democrats. These numbers may capture the short memory of many Americans. But the long-term trend is undeniably grim for gun-control advocates, who seem to be losing ground even among their strongest traditional sympathizers.”'
In the US, the march of liberty was greatly aided by smart policy. In the 1990’s, gun rights activists focused on getting shall-issue concealed carry laws enacted at the state level. This has had the effect of turning people who are not intrinsically interested in firearms into gun-rights supporters. They started to see the practical benefits of gun ownership when it became possible to use guns for self-defence.
'The turnaround on this over the past 20 years has been astonishing, and should serve as a lesson to people who think we can’t see a sea-change on a civil rights issue, even when the media is overwhelmingly opposed.’
This statement applies to Canadian gun rights activists even more than their counterparts in the States. When the terrible wave of gun laws began in the late 1980’s, it was championed by the party gun owners were the most closely allied to ideologically – Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party. Unlike gun owners in the States, who could rely on the GOP, even in their darkest days, Canada’s gun owners first had to destroy the federal conservative party in order to save it. We had no media allies, we had no political allies, and – unlike the NRA - our political lobby groups were nearly broke.
And yet we persevered to the point where the long gun registry is a smoking ruin and the Canadian political landscape has been rewritten. As Instapundit Glenn Reynolds points out, it is amazing what ordinary people without resources can do when they stubbornly fight for civil rights, and keep it up without compromise over a long period of time.
There should be a lesson for all conservative activists in this story. Unfortunately, we have too many ‘conservative’ pundits, who are eager to obscure this message with empty slogans and false dilemmas, with stories like: “How to stay centrist and win Republican nomination.” As if the choice is between conservative purity (which ordinary people supposedly hate) and centrism (which ordinary people supposedly like). If this really were true, why are moderates presidential candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney such losers?
In fact, the choice is between passion and commitment on one hand (which ordinary people actually love), and insider deal-making on the other (which they hate).