Sunday, January 13, 2013

The NRA Shouldn't Be So Confident

(Credit: Reuters/Ralph Freso) from
The meeting between Joe Biden and the NRA is what is called "going through the motions". Neither side was going to listen to the other; however, the public relations game demanded that they spent a few minutes face to face.

Afterwards, Biden described the meeting as  "productive" while the NRA blasted the White House, "It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems.

A few days ago, this blog went on record predicting that the White House will be the ultimate victor in the upcoming battle over gun legislation. It was a bit of a daring prediction. Nearly all political experts point out - ad nauseum- that the NRA is deeply feared by members of both parties. Political lore holds that the NRA defeated the Democrats in the 1994 congressional elections because they passed Clinton's assault weapons ban.

Special interest groups taking credit for election victories (whether deserved or not) is nothing new. The social conservatives also took credit for the 1994 Republican victory. Oddly, neither gun control nor social issues are mentioned in the
Contract with America. Clinton was easily re-elected in 1996 and the Democrats gained seats in 1998 despite expectations to the contrary. One has to wonder whether the NRA claims are factually correct.

Nevertheless, the NRA is confident in the accuracy of their claims and that explains their defiance.
On Friday, NRA President David Keene predicted that a ban on the 
so-called assault ban will not  pass Congress.  Even if they are right about 1994, the demographic breakdown of the electorate has dramatically changed in the last 18 years. Just ask Mitt Romney.

Whether or not a new assault ban will pass depends on the groups that re-elected Obama. Namely, women and minorities. It will depend on their attitudes about guns. Not the attitude of white, male or  rural voters.
A recent survey by Pew Research should give Mr. Keene some pause:  
"Women prioritize controlling ownership over gun rights by a 24-point margin, while men prioritize gun rights by a 10-point margin. Racial differences also are striking, as African-Americans overwhelmingly say gun control is more important than gun rights (68% to 24%), while opinion among whites tilts in favor of gun rights (51% to 42%)."
Even more worrisome for the NRA is the attitudes towards "assault" weapons. The survey found  that 65% said allowing citizen to own assault weapons makes the country more dangerous rather than safer (21%). The numbers are even more startling when looking at women and blacks; 73% of women and 83% of blacks said assault weapons make the country more dangerous.

On Tuesday, Biden will unveil his proposal on gun legislation.  The battlelines are drawn. Each side has made its bets. Game on.

UPDATE: Pew Research has released a new poll showing support for certain gun control measures. Also, the Washington Post released a new poll showing growing support for gun control.