Tell Me I am Wrong


No surprise from Gallup:

Before the election of President Abraham Lincoln, the people who were most staunchly in favor of federal power over the states were the Southern slave owners, who wanted maximum leverage under fugitive slave laws.

The abolitionists were the states’-rights gang, favoring sanctuary for runaway slaves.

There was nothing inherent and nothing stable in that arrangement. It was turned on its head the moment that Lincoln was elected. All of a sudden, the South took states’ rights to the extreme of secession, and the abolitionists became champions of the absolute legal supremacy of the federal union.

As the American Right gets better situated to use its control of government to carry out the authoritarian elements of its own agenda, it will become decidedly less effusive about anything, including civilian gun ownership, that complicates the hard work of forcing obedience to legislated morality. And the American Left will, more and more, see the value of civilian armament as a deterrent to public intrusions into private lives.

In other words, this whole thing could flip on its head practically overnight.


Good point and interesting perspective, thanks.


I’m gonna have to think about this one. It could be.


What would make it flip on its head, if not the election of Trump (“literally Hitler”)? Why hasn’t this started to happen already? Instead we’ve gotten an upsurge of gun control talk from the left.


As a member of a partisan left gun rights organization, I can report two things: 1) there has been a surge of new members since 2016; 2) many of these new members are also new to gun ownership, and specifically cite the election result as a reason for pursuing gun ownership.

Those from traditionally marginalized groups (racial minorities, non-heterosexual folks) are typically more vocal about citing a newfound sense of danger.

However, I do not get the sense that this has changed their view of the role of the federal government. Many are still full throated in their support for top down government-driven social reform on various issues.


I share Peggy_Anderson’s skepticism. For all the occasional left-wing organizational attempts to get even localized changes, the movement has instead been the other way, both at the state and federal level. The reflexive turn to the assault weapons ban is telling.

Some of that’s because gun control money tends to fill the realm with chaff – in addition to overt propaganda, next week’s iteration of the AHSA also conveniently pulls away a lot of potential members for left-wing gun groups. But a lot of it’s because there’s a pretty fundamental disagreement about the role of the individual in society.

The change on “state’s rights” switched so fast because it wasn’t even the actual meta-level disagreement, but a simple way of framing actual disagreements about whether the government should enforce what a portion of the country saw as a fundamentally wrong rule. Neither side was railing about the general case for the contract clause, after all. By contrast, the ideological position here is very close to the practical one, very obviously with matters like Heller, but also to an extent even for Miller.

I think people are thinking of some Great Realignment for Guns narrative based on the 1980s, but I don’t think that’s really how the history went. The 1980s weren’t some period where the Left was friendlier than the Right to gun rights: it was a temporary ascendancy of gun control among both of the major political alliances, at the same time that activist organizations had been defanged or were in retreat.

More fundamentally, lawful gun use as a thing has been so completely destroyed in so many major cultural centers of the Left that I don’t think they could redevelop the skills on their own. There aren’t that many gun clubs and sports centers left in New Jersey or New York City or the Bay Area, and once one disappears it’s very unlikely to ever be replaced. Once a semi-automatic ban’s in place, even a top-down change in laws can’t bring the culture back.

The limited extent left-wing groups that have been successful, such as Redneck Revolt or Pink Pistols (and its splinter groups), have done so only by bootstrapping with the expertise from a large number of cultural members of the gun community – sometimes literally borrowing people with an NRA or SAF. That’s viable in an environment like we have today, where there are a number of distinguishing Progressive-leaning characteristics that come up near-randomly in gun culture-heavy areas (most obviously the LGBT community).

But that doesn’t seem to match the likely splits down the road. And while I’d be interested to see a Left lawful gun culture that sprung up de novo, the coincidences and miracles that lead to what gun culture we have today took a lot of luck and a number of things that can’t happen the same way today.