The debate over the Second Amendment in our country is not limited to progressive political candidates and the National Rifle Association. This is a detail that is humorously lost on the media in situations like Biden trying to pick a fight with a Detroit auto worker over “AR-14’s.”
The NRA is indeed a formidable lobbying group. But gun owners as a constituency are a heck of a lot larger group than NRA members. This does not reflect an ideological divide in gun owners (for example, people who like shotguns versus people who like “assault weapons”) per se. There are a lot of gun owners – including gun owners on the political right – who do not like the NRA at all. This is mostly about the egomaniac who controls the organization and perceived corruption. It has little to nothing to do with politics. Even many NRA members wish the organization would change in some ways. The GOP is not at the mercy of the NRA on gun rights issues or any other issues. Heck, Trump himself is more of a money machine than the NRA.
The lawfare crowd on the left could nuke the NRA tomorrow and it would not be a gun control victory or even a victory regarding money in politics. Around 5 million people are members of the NRA. That’s a little over twice the number of concealed carry holders in the battleground state of Florida alone. There are likely around 20 million AR-15-style rifles in the United States. The Small Arms Survey estimates that there are nearly 400 million guns in civilian use in the United States. That’s more than the US military and law enforcement have. (Seriously, if Iran wants to invade the US, they aren’t going to start in the South.) While some people criticize the Small Arms Survey’s methodology in estimating gun ownership, FBI background check data show that Americans purchase tens of millions of firearms every year.
At any rate, the NRA doesn’t speak for gun owners. It speaks for a small fraction of gun owners, who are mostly hunters and firearm sports enthusiasts (you know, exactly the kind of people Biden pretends to identify with).
You don’t need a corporate media-financed survey to tell you that campaigning on gun control as an issue is a stupid idea. All you need to do is look at actual gun ownership. As with most things in a capitalist society, Americans are all too happy to put their money where their mouth is. This is especially true for the AR-15, or “America’s Favorite Gun.” AR-15-style rifles comprise around 20% of all gun sales in the country on an annual basis. If you would like a remarkably balanced discussion of how that came to be, read this 2017 article from NBC, America’s rifle: Why so many people love the AR-15.
Think about all those numbers, and then consider the gun control position Biden expressed to Democratic mega-donors at a fundraiser at the Seattle home of an Amazon executive only months ago:
While saying he supports the Second Amendment, Biden called the absolutist arguments of some gun-rights supporters “bizarre.” Noting people can’t own machine guns or bazookas, Biden said, “Why should we allow people to have military-style weapons including pistols with 9-mm bullets and can hold 10 or more rounds?”
Mentioning his own shotgun ownership, Biden talked about Delaware goose-hunting restrictions that limit hunters to three shotgun shells. “We protect geese from Canada more than we do people,” he said.
From a political perspective, this is insanity. Reducing the Second Amendment to Delaware’s three shotgun shell regulation for Canadian geese? But that is the sort of stuff you say when you are running for President of Twitter and you are not all that together to begin with. Biden’s rapid response director joked that he would pay people on Twitter to circulate the video of Biden telling off an auto worker about how much he loves his rifle, suggesting that it would cause support for Biden to skyrocket. That’s political advice so terrible that you’d think only Michael Bloomberg would buy it.